Your interview with the energy minister Malcolm Wicks (28 October) reinforced the view that we should move away from much of the current media debate on which energy source is “best” – a debate somewhat hijacked by nuclear energy.
Instead, we need to talk sensibly about more holistic solutions to support the right energy mix for the future.
There are four key questions:
- What mix will be publicly acceptable? Major government initiatives in any sector are introduced with more gain and less pain if they have support. This will be particularly true of energy, an emotive subject. Business, too, needs to be onside.
- What’s the cost? The engineering, design and construction sectors have their parts to play in keeping costs down through efficient and innovative practice. As Wicks hints, there is likely to be an element of government support for future plans and we all have a responsibility to ensure public funds are spent wisely.
- Can we use resources in a better way? How can more sustainable and energy-efficient engineering and design solutions be incorporated into our infrastructure to reduce demand in the long term?
- Finally, what is deliverable? Do we have enough qualified staff to implement a future energy programme, from nuclear decommissioning to new power-plants? Do we have a planning process in place that is conducive to supporting large developments?
Industry can play a vital role in giving answers to many of these points. Those companies with multidisciplinary expertise across the full range of energy sectors will be best placed to support the country’s needs into the future.
Paul Dollin, managing director, Atkins Nuclear and Power