Former Energy Minister says gas industry must be 'more responsible'

Published:  15 May, 2012

The gas industry needs to become a more responsible one according to the former Minister of State for Energy, who was speaking at the SBGI Gas Industry Awards.

Speaking at the SBGI Gas Industry Awards, the Rt Hon Malcolm Wicks, MP for Croydon, praised the industry for its current efforts and said that energy had a major role to play in getting the economy back on its feet.

He suggested that to support investment and growth, the industry must move fast to develop and implement science, technologies and engineering that make a difference.

“We should seek to demonstrate that the move towards low carbon European economies brings opportunities for new investment, new science innovation and also business opportunity, leading of course to the development of new so called green collared jobs and green collar careers,” he said.

“What can be a more gritty example of the need to reduce energy demand […] than the need, through incentives that we need to find, to really speed up the transformation of the boiler market.”

He specifically drew attention to the challenge of reducing energy use to hit carbon targets while increasing energy access for the world.

An estimated 1.3 billion people across the world do not have access to electricity, and in the UK around 5.5 million households were classified as being in fuel poverty in 2009.

“This is compounded by the rapid rise in prices,” he said.

Credited with inventing the term fuel poverty, Wicks admitted the issue of social justice and giving energy to the energy poor needs more attention.

“Increasing global demand for energy is occurring at a time when the European Union as a whole is experiencing a significant increase in energy import dependency,” he said.

“Already most energy comes from the outside the European union and this will only be enhanced, or perhaps I should say exacerbated, in the future.”

It is estimated that over 90% of Europe’s oil will come from other countries by 2030, 80% of its gas and 50% of its coal.

“I believe that the geopolitics of energy in security will be a key theme of the 21st century. As the world comes out of global recession, the global grab for energy will return to something like its pre-recession trajectory, with demand forecast to increase substantially. Oil and gas prices can be expected to increase perhaps significantly, although I acknowledge that shale gas is the new kid on the block.”

Wicks believes that the future of gas needs to be viewed against a wider context of economics and affordability, climate change and global warming, social justice and supply and security.

Referring to the IEA World Energy Outlook he said: “The outlook almost waxes lyrical, and many of you will be encouraged by this when it talks about gas, ‘factors both on the supply and the demand side point to a bright future even a golden age for natural gas’.”

“I believe that gas has a vital role to play well into this century, but I also believe that the industry has to step up to the plate to become a more responsible one,” he said.

Hosted by IGEM and SBGI, this years Gas Industry Awards saw organisations and individuals from around the UK rewarded for their dedication across 13 categories.

The awards were presented by the Rt. Hon Malcolm Wicks, MP along with the David Morgan, president of IGEM and Carl Arntzen, president of SBGI.

The winners were:

Dr Claire Curtis Thomas, chief executive officer of IGEM, said: "This year [our judges] received a large number of entries and of a very high standard so they faced a very significant challenge. I congratulate all of the nominees, who were of an outstanding calibre and should be proud of their achievements and the recognition they rightly received today. As for the winners, they are truly among the very best of the best. Their achievements are to be celebrated and their ideas and methods shared widely across the industry."

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