Challenges for UK industry

As Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant faces closure, recent industry news is focusing on the challenges for UK manufacturing.

To date, more than 120,000 people have signed Jeremy Corbyn’s petition calling for Parliament to be recalled early, to discuss the fate of steelmaking and demanding the government acts immediately to “protect the steel industry and the core of manufacturing in Britain”.

But the issue may be beyond Parliament’s control. China’s biggest listed steelmaker has said it expects to increase output by 20% in 2016, reports The Guardian. This glut of supply combined with cheap imports makes it impossible for UK industry to compete.

The Spectator argues that Britain has the highest energy costs in Europe, thanks to decisions taken not in Brussels but in Whitehall. It is not the Chinese who are to blame.

Rather, homegrown energy costs hugely penalise UK industry, but don’t create meaningful carbon reductions compared with bigger industrial countries, which fail to push their industrial energy use down similarly.

The question is, must leadership on industrial energy penalties and carbon shoot UK industry in the foot?

Budget 2016

 The Carbon Reduction Commitment is gone, and the Climate Change Levy will increase from 2019, reports Carbon Brief.

‘This will make up for the loss in revenue that comes from abolishing the Carbon Reduction Commitment, and should continue to incentivise energy efficiency among businesses,’ reads its analysis. This being the case, a further uptick in activity in buildings energy management should be on the cards.

Demand side response, energy storage and smart tech also get £50m. All in all, new tech across energy management and the smart grid should be incentivised by the Chancellor’s moves.

The budget also laid out an, ‘ample package of support for the oil and gas industry, which has faltered under the plunging oil price over the past 20 months,’ said Carbon Brief.

Hinkley Point ongoing saga

The Guardian has found that the Hinkley Point C nuclear deal contains a £22bn ‘poison pill’ for taxpayers. It appears the Government has offered EDF the £22 billion to reduce EDF’s risk on the project, while exposing its own taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the long awaited Final Investment Decision (FID) on Hinkley remains unconfirmed. Vincent de Rivaz, the CEO of EDF Energy, said in March that the Hinkley Point C project will “clearly and categorically” go ahead.

He told the UK parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee the repeatedly postponed FID on the project would finally be made by early May.

Therefore, the majority of recent news and policy majors on energy costs and industry challenges, Budget reaction and the seemingly endless UK nuclear dilemma.