Brexit: What’s next for the energy sector?

Experts in the energy sector give their views on what could happen following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Talking about Boris Johnson’s pledge to cut VAT on energy bills, Will Hodson, Co-founder of The Big Deal, a consumer collective focused on reducing energy bills said: “The key thing is that Britain is a massive importer of energy… If we are paying euro prices, dollar prices for our energy, we are paying more because the pound is weaker.

“That’s one thing that’s really important. That’s why Boris Johnson’s promise to scrap VAT on energy is monumentally important. We’re taking back control of one thing, let’s use it to reduce bills. If he can take that 5% off bills that means £60 back in the pocket of the British people.”

For Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, staying in the single market is crucial for the country.

He said: “We import quite a lot of electricity, we certainly import a lot of gas and we export gas as well during the summer to continental Europe so it’s in both sides’ interest that trade continues. That’s good for security of supply and it’s good for consumers.”

The country should be focused on energy security, according to former CEO of Energy UK Angela Knight.

She told ELN: “As far as energy is concerned a lot of our energy policy has always been decided here in this country anyway whereas I do appreciate we are tied into some directives, particularly relating to closing down some of our old coal-fired power stations and also on carbon reduction. What not being fully part of the EU will allow us to do is take the steps in a cost effective manner and with energy security as a priority.”

CEO of UK Power Reserve Tim Emrich agrees security of supply should be an “absolute priority” and he believes prices will rise.

He added: “I worry for consumers, I think prices will go up not for our services but for the energy agenda generally. There were tremendous streams of revenue or incentives available to the European Union but I think they’re going to disappear and it will make the environment challenging.”

For James Court, Head of Policy at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), the “big question” is if the UK sticks to its 2020 targets once it leaves the EU.

However, Executive Director of Aldersgate Group Nick Molho believes the UK can continue taking the lead in the fight against climate change and towards a low carbon economy.

He added: “There is no reason why going forward the UK cannot continue taking a lead on clean energy and environmental issues. If you look back over the last 10 to 15 years both in and out of Europe, the UK has often taken the leading position on environmental issues such as climate change and it has also during that time built a very strong low carbon economy at home that already generates a gross value added in excess of £46 billion, it employs more than 238,000 people so the UK has got to continue leading in those areas.”

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has reassured investors and businesses that the UK remains committed to its climate objectives despite the UK voting to leave the EU.