The government is asking for feedback from businesses on its long-awaited vision for a modern industrial strategy, with energy costs, electric vehicles and energy storage in the spotlight.
The proposed industrial strategy aims to address long-term challenges to the economy by intervening across ten key themes, one of which is “delivering affordable energy and clean growth”.
The proposals suggest a move away from the traditional ‘trilemma’ framework on energy, which focused on the need for tackling emissions, energy costs and energy security.
Instead, the paper says that two areas of energy policy now require a higher priority: the affordability of energy and the economic opportunities of energy innovation.
The government says it recognises the need to keep rising electricity costs under control and commits to set out a long-term roadmap later in 2017 to minimise costs for businesses. This emissions reduction plan will set out new policies for clean energy, renewable heat and transport.
The paper also announces that a business case is being built for a new research institution to act as a focal point for developments in battery technology, energy storage and grid technology.
In particular, the paper commits the government to “a programme of research and innovation in energy storage and other smart technologies which aligns with the work underway on designing a smart grid and the rollout of public charging points for electric vehicles, and smart meters at homes and commercial properties.”
Electric vehicles are also highlighted in the paper as a key sector going forward, with the government intending to “accelerate the transition of auto manufacturing to ultra-low emission vehicles”.
To further support research and development, a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has been unveiled to back technologies at all stages of development, focusing on key areas that include smart, clean energy and advanced manufacturing processes and materials.
Included in the plans is an allocation of £556 million to support the Northern Powerhouse, with £328 million to be spent in the North West.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Underpinning this strategy is a new approach to government, not just stepping back and leaving business to get on with the job, but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.
“Through this new approach we will move beyond short-term thinking to focus on the big decisions that will deliver long-term, sustainable success.”
The initial strategy has been largely welcomed by the business community.
Commenting on the proposals, Dr Daniel Strosnider, business development manager for the energy division at Bolton-headquartered contractor, Forrest, said: “As interest in battery storage and decentralised energy grows, we hope the strategy fund plays a role in promoting an innovative and prosperous low carbon society.
“It is important that sustainability and efficiency are at the heart of the strategy, whereby the funding creates long lasting and viable growth, which will continue to improve lives across the region for decades to come.
The government is now calling for feedback on its proposals, including the steps it should take to limit energy costs, and how it might support businesses to realise cost savings through greater resource and energy efficiency.
The consultation is open until 17 April. For more information, click here.