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No single solution to the looming energy crisis

26 August 2008

Andrew Furlong, Director of Policy at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) says that a new report published by the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills (IUSS) committee into renewable electricity encapsulated similar conclusions to those reached by IChemE two years ago: “There is no single-source solution to our future energy needs and a range of options including nuclear, renewables and fossil fuels must be deployed,” said Furlong.

No single solution to the UK’s looming energy crisis
No single solution to the UK’s looming energy crisis

With latest estimates suggesting that UK energy bills could rise by £400 this winter, Furlong also advised that a shortage of properly qualified scientists and engineers could restrict further implementation of new technologies: “The design, operation and management of these facilities won’t ‘happen by magic’. We need more skilled scientists and engineers. Consequently, the looming skills shortage is of critical concern.”

Although chemical engineering courses in the UK are enjoying record student intake, many university departments are now at full capacity. Last year, the CBI said that the UK needs an extra 2.4 million science and technology graduates by 2014 to meet demand.

“Government and industry investment is essential to support the expansion of existing science and engineering faculties and new ones being created,” said Furlong.

“Investment in the scientists and engineers of tomorrow is of equal importance as investment in the technologies of the future,” Furlong added.

The critical IUSS report suggested the committee was “disappointed by the lack of urgency expressed by the government – and at times by the electricity industry – in relation to the challenge ahead”.

It also warned that “the finite period of time available to make the necessary changes is fast running out”.

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