Energy Security: A National Challenge in a Changing World

(August 7, 2009) - In October 2008, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown asked Malcolm Wicks MP, as his Special Representative on International Energy Issues, to carry out an independent review of international energy security and how developments internationally were likely to affect the UK’s energy security in the coming decades.

His report was published on 5 August 2009 and complements the recently published UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, setting out an approach to energy security that will enable the UK to achieve its climate change objectives.

The report focuses on the changing UK and global energy picture, pointing out that even with ambitious climate change targets, the world is still likely to be reliant on coal, oil and gas to meet over two-thirds of its energy needs by 2030.

The world is still likely to be reliant on coal, oil and gas to meet over two-thirds of its energy needs by 2030

The report considers how global trends affect the UK’s medium and long term energy security and having concluded that energy independence is unachievable, addresses the UK’s international strategy and how we interact with multilateral agencies. In terms of the UK’s bilateral relationships, it recommends that Norway, Qatar and Saudi Arabia be prioritised as the most significant relationships for our energy security.

The report also considers actions we could take within the UK’s borders to reduce import dependency. It recognises that energy efficiency must be the starting point of all action and welcomes the ambitious proposals set out in the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, in particular the support for households to reduce their energy use. It makes recommendations on maximising the UK Continental Shelf and considerations around gas storage.

In addition, if the UK electrifies much of its transport and heating, demand for electricity in 2050 could be 50 per cent higher than it is today, making it possible that electricity could account for half of our overall energy use; it is within this context that Malcolm Wicks’ review recommends that Government consider setting a higher aspiration for nuclear power generation and keep under review whether further policy instruments may be necessary to direct further investment in capacity towards non-fossil fuel power generation, including wind, tidal and wave.

Energy Security: A national challenge in a changing world - is available for download

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