The Government's Energy Review, which was called for by the Prime Minister in November 2005, was concluded and published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on 11 July.
The Review will be followed by a White Paper towards the end of the year. The main purpose of the Review was to report on the progress on achieving the UK's four long-term goals for energy policy.
The headline news has been the conclusion by the government that nuclear must remain part of the energy 'portfolio'. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that other significant measures are also trailed. As expected, the government will look at the Renewables Obligation to establish if it can be fine-tuned to provide more encouragement for renewable energies other than just wind. Energy supply companies will find themselves placed under an increased burden to secure better energy efficiency by use of a 'tradable target' for reducing energy demand or carbon emissions from households. The government recognises the pressing need for a legal and regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage ("CCS") and this should translate into a regime which more readily accommodates projects such as that currently being conducted at Peterhead. Renewable electricity generators will welcome the commitment to work with all relevant parties to speed up access to the electricity grid whilst also taking measures to minimise delays in planning.
In oil and gas as well, the government seems to recognise the need for fostering further development in the North Sea and on the Atlantic Frontier. A taskforce is to be established aimed at accelerating exploitation of the area west of Shetland and there is reference to refocusing of the Stewardship Initiative. There will also be a consultation in the autumn on simplifying the planning process for gas supply infrastructure projects.
The list of measures mentioned in the report is extensive and many areas remain to be clarified but one thing is clear - this is only the beginning of the reform process and not the end.