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Reform of energy market 'may not be fast enough'

Today's UK government announcement on energy market reform meets a very real need, but speed is of the essence, the IET has said.

There are a number of admirable elements to the announcement today, said the IET's Professor Roger Kemp. He added. "Clearly, the cheapest electricity is the energy you don't need to generate so we are pleased that Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne made reference to novel measures to reward customers for their participation in smoothing out the peaks in electricity demand.  The IET has long maintained that in a true level playing field all such approaches should be given equal weight.

"It would appear that the announcement is a serious step towards meeting the energy challenges facing Britain, but the devil will be in the detail.  The degree of all party consensus is encouraging as it means that debate can focus on the all important technical and practical details.

"It is vital that engineering issues around plant performance, deployment rates, the opportunities in new technology, and the future development of a smart grid are fully recognised in order to ensure that the measures deliver the desired results and at the least cost to the public."

He said that the UK needs to largely de-carbonise its electricity generation while maintaining security of supply, but it must do both in the way that is most affordable for consumers.

And he added that the risk of interruptions to energy supplies is rising as older coal and nuclear power stations are closed down. Ten years sounds like a long time, he noted, but the scale of this change is vast and the rate of investment by the private sector in energy infrastructure needs to be rapidly stepped up.

The IET said that it looks forward to representing the engineering issues in the implementation of these changed arrangements to Government.

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