Vince Cable fires warning shot over UK energy supply chain

Business Secretary Vince Cable Business Secretary Vince Cable

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
8:09 AM

Business secretary Vince Cable fired a warning shot to energy giants for not using enough homegrown suppliers, telling Norfolk and Suffolk energy bosses he had hauled an offshore wind operator in after discovering just 20pc of its “content” was from the UK.

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Dr Cable was speaking at a House of Commons reception at which the East of England Energy Group announced a step forward for its plans to nurture the skills of the local workforce, announcing the doors of a training centre will open later this year.

The long-awaited EPISCentre project will finally get off the ground from Minerva House in Gorleston, while funding is secured for the more permanent £11m warehouse.

Addressing about 200 people at the reception in Westminster, Dr Cable said the government realised that it had a role to play in making the energy sector flourish, including creating a long term industrial strategy.

He said: “I won’t mention their name, but I had to call in one of the big offshore wind operators when I discovered that their UK content was about 20pc. The company assured me they couldn’t find firms in the UK with the relevant expertise, but admittedly they hadn’t tried. They are now trying and the purpose of the industrial strategy is to work with them.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles, who also spoke to the business leaders in London, said that too many energy sector employers from the area had to travel as far afield as America for skills. He said the EPISCentre would increase the potential for local people to get the jobs.

Celia Anderson, EEEGR executive director who is heading the project, said the temporary site would be in place until the flagship building was complete,

While Blair Ainslie, Skills for Energy chairman, who is also managing director of Great Yarmouth energy firm Seajacks, said the project would encourage international windpower, gas and new nuclear companies to think about investing in the region.

He said: “EPISCentre is a project of national significance but the emphasis is on helping local people into local jobs in an industry with a major and long-term future in this region.”

The new warehouse, which will have industrial equipment to support training, is expected to open early next year.

Seb Duncan, director for resources, governance and growth at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the use of the council-owned Minerva House would enable the EPISCentre to get off the ground more quickly, with none of the risks associated with constructing a new building.

8 comments

  • It is incredible that the current administration appears to ignore the import reality of biomass combustion for energy but force the public to heavily subsidise the biomass industry. Surely we must embrace the fundamental facts on biomass. DECC report that the UK will be required to import 90% of the biomass thousands of miles, Deloitte report 25-30% of the energy content is used in the pelleting process and Canadian timber suppliers confirm 48% of the energy content will be lost before the biomass reaches powerplants in Europe. The plant equipment is a fundamental import and power performance is generally poor and creates hazardous air pollution confirmed to impact on health and add £billions to NHS costs. Biofuelwatch confirm burning biomass for energy increases CO2 by 50% compared to equivalent coal, emissions data shows deadly fine particle pollution produced by a small biomass powerplant equates to millions of additional km travelled locally each day by diesel vehicles. The plant operators confirm loose regulations in England encourage biomass burning, just check against other Countries e.g.The Scottish administration impose much lower PM pollution limits in order to protect health. Sadly there appears to be a serious lack of due diligence and duty of care in UK energy decision making policy.

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    Brian W

    Monday, May 19, 2014

  • Sadly our government are way off the mark in terms of both industrial and energy strategies. The 'opposition' in Europe are light years ahead. There is no one form of energy generation which will provide all the solutions to our needs now and for the foreseeable future. We need a mix of technologies although the percentages generated will vary over time. Dave01 raises a very valid point. We have some of the best wave and tidal conditions on the planet for power generation off the coast of Lowestoft and adjacent areas. This could potentially provide huge amounts of continuous, predictable and manageable power generation. We have award winning local companies with the specialist knowledge and experience to harvest and utilise this energy and power. Why does no one appear to be listening ? If we fail to exploit these opportunities which are on our doorstep we will pay dearly in the long term.

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    Grey Fox

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

  • £11million pounds is a lot of money for a warehouse. For half that amount at least one of the local tide and wave companies could put Lowestoft well and truly on the international map... And producing substantial amounts of green power and jobs.. Sometimes I think I am on a different planet , the planet of common sense and local ingenuity ...and as a by product reducing inshore coastal erosion... It is obvious ? Unfortunately I don't do politics so may never understand the randomness of money allocation.

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    Dave01

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • The Business Secretary has at last got the message. Representatives from the UK energy sector have been highlighting this for years. Sadly no one has been listening and energy policies have been in disarray.

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    Grey Fox

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • A bit late - all the money wasted on green energy has been going overseas for years. Why are politicians always off the pace i.e reactive rather than proactive?

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    Barbara

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • The point the utterly useless Vince Cable should be making is that wind power is a totally inefficient and costly way to generate power and the UK should not be forced into stupid unobtainable European quotas on so called ‘green’ energy. The only way to secure the county’s power generation for the future is nuclear. I know that this will send Ingo Whateverhisnameis off on another of his rants but it is the only long term sustainable way to ‘keep the lights on’.

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    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • Vince Cable should be warning us about rising sea levels and tell construction and insurance industry to invest in precautionary measures. We need a Severn, Wash and Thames barrier with tidal energy generation and lock systems, and we will need it soon or loose the realm. Whilst he's at it, maybe somebody in this wretched coalition should have a world with the agricultural ministry to ban nicotinoids NOW, because they are responsible for weakening bees immune system leading to collony collapse. These are two must issues not addressed by any of our EU hopefulls.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

  • Some of the "local" companies couldnt care less about their customers, especially in Yarmouth. How about Cable meeting them then ?

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    "V"

    Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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