The Energy White Paper maps out a possible framework for the future, but it will be the engineers who play the central role in solving these pressing issues, argues Richard Coackley, managing director at White Young Green Energy

The Energy White Paper shows that the government is at last getting to grips with the situation. It is now starting to understand the breadth of the problem and the serious consequences of inaction.

It now proposes a range of measures in support of more distributed forms of energy and the need for large scale energy investment.

At last we are now looking at a diverse energy mix, being good for our security of supply. Together with the proposed reforms in planning process released in a separate White Paper earlier in the week it is seen as an answer. A new fast track planning body is to be welcomed but proper and timely consultation is essential.

Together with the White Paper a consultation document on new nuclear power baseload has been published in order for a decision to be made before the end of the year.

Many countries are in a similar decision making process on the nuclear question. Each week sees another country accept nuclear on the basis of green energy and the most appropriate technology to deliver their needs. The longer we hesitate the longer the order queue will be if we make that same decision, and sadly, gone are the days of UK capability for key components.

The paper accepts that energy demand will grow over time, despite increased energy efficiency, and that together with replacement of our exhausted stations we will require 35 GW of new electricity generation capacity.

Despite the NFFO’s and ROC’s to entice new green generation it has not yet delivered the goods and we will always have the challenge of the need to store the energy produced by some renewables to use when demand requires. Tidal energy is predictable but where are our bold plans here?

Energy efficiency is discussed at length but in particular regard to heating and electricity with scarce mention of an increase for the need of cooling throughout our built environment. Free visual “real time” displays on request, to show homeowners how much electricity they use and working with industry to “phase out” inefficient goods and energy consuming standby switches can only be the start.

The paper better handles the need to band ROC’s in order to construct a wider range of green energy projects, a much needed development.

engineers have always been the true problem solvers in our society. Today we need them more than ever. The White Paper maps out a possible framework for the future, but it will be our engineers that play the central role in solving these pressing issues.

We only have one chance – the decisions we make on the generation and consumption of energy today will have consequences for the next 50 years. As we grapple with these problems engineers must be given a central role in delivering these answers.