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Government urged to make nuclear and renewable energy supply a national priority

Green energy could be key to securing energy supplies both internationally and domestically, a new report commissioned by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown concluded today.

The report - ‘Energy Security: a national challenge in a changing world’ report - by the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on International Energy, Rt. Hon. Malcolm Wicks MP charts the UK’s move from a position of relative energy independence to a greater dependence on energy imports.

Wicks argues that the move to a low carbon economy is as vital to energy security as it is to tackling climate change.  He strongly recommends the Government pursues energy efficiency and home grown sources of energy with maximum pace and ambition.

“Energy reserves are concentrated in some of the most unstable parts of the world,” said Wicks.  “That’s an issue of national security. There is no crisis but we can never be complacent. As we move out of recession, the global grab for energy will resume in earnest, consumption is predicted to rise, and with it prices.

“Complete energy independence is an unrealistic goal but there is much we can do to insulate ourselves from the risks, in large part by driving our climate policies even further, quicker.  We must be far smarter with the energy we use and invest in home grown energy sources, such as new nuclear and renewables without delay.”

However the report recommends that nuclear should provide some 35-40% of our electricity beyond 2030, which the Liberal Democrats believe is unnecessary.

“This review is an attempt to scare the British public into accepting new nuclear power stations,” said Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Simon Hughes

“But energy security does not have to mean capitulation to massive nuclear subsidies. Britain needs a massive expansion of renewable energy that builds on the advantage of our natural resources. The Government must support the development of a European supergrid to help secure our energy future. We must act with our European partners to make Britain less dependent on unstable regions for our energy supplies.”

Other report recommendations include that::

- The UK should continue to ensure that energy efficiency is at the heart of energy dialogues with our global partners.

- Relationships with Norway, Qatar and Saudi Arabia should be prioritised. Relationships built on a broad base including diplomatic, development and cultural collaboration will provide a firm basis on which to pursue our energy security goals.

- The UK should remain at the forefront in developing and demonstrating CCS technology.

- The Government should do what it can to support EU work to promote diversification of routes and sources of gas supply into Europe including through the use of EU diplomacy to influence third countries where they are better placed to do this than the UK bilaterally.

- The Government should keep under review the possibility of further measures to enhance levels of gas storage, should anticipated commercial storage developments fail to materialise at the scale anticipated.

- An Office of International Energy, bringing together more closely those working across Government on these issues should be set up

The Government will now consider the report’s recommendations and publish a formal response in due course.

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