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EU Energy Roadmap: Smooth sailing or full of bumps?

By Katrina Kelly

I recently had the privilege of attending an exclusive seminar to discuss the current paths of the EU energy roadmap. Industry professionals and senior policy-makers discussed the problems that the EU’s plan may meet here in the UK. At the centre of our discussions were energy prices. This prompted all participants to come to the same conclusion: we must act now to keep energy prices down or lose all public confidence in future policy-proposals and, potentially, in governance in general.

Member states hold varying views on the future energy mix. But policy professionals all agree on one aspect: something must be done to assuage the public resentment that is increasing throughout the EU. There also seems to be agreement that the EU might be missing the robust input from all industry sectors that would ensure the energy plan delivers sustainable supplies while still addressing the three main issues in energy: de-carbonisation, security and competitiveness.

Storage and innovation seemed to be the crux of the British argument, specifically coming from DECC. We need to find extra capital for investment in infrastructure and innovation. Specifically, this was mentioned with regard to storage for renewables. But, interestingly, there was no mention of investment in nuclear development. It seems the divided viewpoints amongst the European public are now strong enough to make the EU wary of including nuclear power as a type of clean energy. Instead, it is being listed with oil and gas.

Key to developing innovation is the next generation: training and R&D are seen as central to the future innovation that will be needed to equip European Households and businesses to meet EU emission reduction targets. The IMF continues to push against this warning that investments in the next generation might not work; instead, policy-makers should focus on what we have now. Why push against innovation in an era that seems to be defined by the very word? Perhaps due to the simple viewpoint that employers have an extremely negative viewpoint of the upcoming generation of workers. They are seen as having poor work habits and inflated pay demands. Baby-boomers and Gen-X members see Gen-Y as a generation of ingenuine iPhone experts. But is this the reality? If so, the energy roadmap must be amended to specifically include extra training that will be required to address the gap in knowledge and innovation. In the meantime, firms could prepare by launching campaigns for mentoring. Rather than guessing, firms should seek to understand how the upcoming generation will be impacting business-as-usual.

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