It was a time when the UK was facing an
uncertain energy future - North Sea oil
production falling, old and inefficient
power plants coming to the end of their
useful lives, gas supplies under threat in
a politically uncertain world.
In the corridors of power they were talking about the "energy trilemma" - meaning
the dilemma of how to meet the challenge
of keeping the lights on, at an
affordable price, and at the same time
reduce carbon emissions.
What happened next has thrown up
unprecedented opportunities for engineering companies awake to the possibilities...
There is no infrastructure in Britain today bigger than the energy
people talk about energy they talk in billions,
not hundreds of millions: over £45 billion on
electricity projects in the three years to 2013;
£8 billion in 2013 alone on renewable projects; £16 billion announced on one nuclear
power station (and more planned).
Total investment in 2010-2014 of around
£100 billion, and another £100 billion just to
see us to 2020. That equates to around £3
million a day, every day, for ten years.
What happens after 2020? Well, "still more
than that in the following decade," according
to the UK's Energy Minister. So that's another £100 billion.
It can be easy to be lost in the sheer size of
this market and to lose sight of the reality of
opportunity in the figures - but when manufacturing facilities are
planned, or being built
already, in almost all the sectors, energy is a
sector with almost unlimited potential for
companies in the supply chain.
And this is not just because of the market
size. More important has been a fundamental difference
in approach to suppliers in the
big energy sub-sectors through a monetary
regime put in place by the UK Government,
working with industry itself, to attract the billions needed to
rejuvenate the sector.
It is a unique approach designed to make
sure UK firms benefit from the billions being
invested - and the OEMs and big developers are
Companies like EDF, with its £16 billion plan
to build the first UK nuclear plant for over a
decade, is committed to at least 50% UKmade content,
and the same story is
repeated in the renewables and other
energy sub-sectors. Many of the big players,
the Tier 1s and Tier 2s, have supplier portals
on their websites where they are actively
seeking new partners to meet the demands
of this burgeoning market - and organisations like
GTMA are geared up to help their
members penetrate the market.
THE ENERGY TRILEMMA
When in 2010 the Government began facing
its energy trilemma (security, affordability and
sustainability) one of the big issues was how
to attract the £billions of investment needed
to build new and clean sources of energy.
Just how it did it is recorded in a 136-page
Government document, 'Delivering UK
Energy Investment', published in July 2014.
Three faces of the UK energy sector: centre, courtesy
BP p.l.c., is the Andrews oil platform in the
North Sea which is set for a new lease of life. It is
flanked by two images from EDF Energy. On the
left the Teeside offshore wind farm, and on the
right a graphic image of the proposed nuclear
plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, potentially
leading £60 billion of investment in UK nuclear.
Opposite: Subsea production facilities are vital in
power supply and distribution. This Subsea Power
Grid, courtesy Siemens, incorporates components
including transformers, switchgear and variablespeed drives.
BRITAIN'S ENERGY BILLIONS
UNIQUE FUNDING APPROACH BACKS UK SUPPLY CHAIN