The UK cannot rely on just shale gas for our future energy supply. We need £110bn of private sector investment in energy infrastructure to diversify our energy mix and keep the lights on. And we must ensure the costs are manageable for businesses and households. To do this, we need a mixture of fuels and technologies: renewables, gas, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power. All of these technologies have a role to play, including both shale gas and nuclear. Shale is unlikely to be the game-changer here that it has been in the US, so investment in nuclear is vital, providing secure and low-carbon generation. For example, Hinkley Point C will be a major contributor to our energy future, with this investment creating 5,000 jobs in the construction phase alone. We have the opportunity to build an energy system that is sustainable for the next generation. We have to get it right. Nicola Walker is director for business environment at the Confederation of British Industry.
The UK now has some of the most expensive energy in the world, with wholesale prices higher than in Germany and France, and gas now three times the US price. The question is not whether our future energy should be either nuclear energy, shale gas or even renewables – we need a mix of all of them. However, the UK nuclear strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour compares to an equivalent price of £38 for large industrial users in France. UK manufacturing cannot cope with this competitive disadvantage. It’s a fact that gas from the North Sea is declining and we will continue to need a source of gas to manage the variability of renewable power. Surely it is much better to use our own gas from shale than to import from overseas. The US shale gas revolution has allowed it to become almost energy self-sufficient, and is generating billions of dollars in new manufacturing investment. The UK cannot simply watch from the sidelines. Tom Crotty is director of Ineos Group.