Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Government unveils manufacturing plan for green economy

· Blueprint to improve skills backed by £150m · Hope for an extra 260,000 jobs in energy sector
Mark Milner, industrial editor
The Guardian,
Tuesday September 9 2008

The government unveiled a new strategy for manufacturing yesterday that aims to boost skills, exploit the opportunities of a low-carbon economy and bolster the sector's image as an exciting place to work.
The new framework emphasises manufacturing's key role in a mixed and balanced economy and argues that Britain can become a world leader in nuclear and renewables, where some 260,000 jobs could be created over the next decade.
New Challenges, New Opportunities, which replaces the government's 2002 manufacturing strategy, wants to see a further boost to the number of manufacturing apprenticeships and pledges further support for some 600 companies looking for opportunities in India and China.
A new body, Manufacturing Insight, will be given the job of selling the sector as "successful, modern and broad" and an exciting place to work.
John Hutton, the business secretary, said: "Manufacturing is central to the success of the UK economy and it is vital the sector has the right foundations to endure the current economic slowdown and emerge stronger and fitter than ever."
The plan, which has been drawn up by the Department for Business and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, in partnership with industry, will be backed by £150m of medium-term support for UK manufacturing.
Hutton said the UK was the world's sixth-largest manufacturer, with the sector accounting for over half the UK's exports, employing about 3 million people and contributing £150bn towards the economy. But he added: "We need to recognise that the global landscape is changing so we can help UK manufacturers stay ahead of the game.
"I want the UK to be at the forefront of opportunities opened up by the move towards a low-carbon economy. With the right support in place, we can grow our nuclear and renewables industries to become world leaders in green technologies, supporting hundreds of thousands of green-collar jobs."
The new strategy was broadly welcomed by both sides of industry.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "Its call for a mixed and balanced economy, including a strong manufacturing sector, will be greeted with enthusiasm by unions. We particularly welcome plans for an additional 1,500 apprenticeships and the recognition of the role that public procurement can play in promoting a healthy manufacturing sector. We look forward to a separate low-carbon industrial strategy in 2009."
Martin Temple, chairman of the EEF manufacturers' organisation, said it backed the strategy. "The next step is to deliver and back the positive words with firm actions of intent and support."
The CBI's chief economic adviser, Ian McCafferty, also stressed the need to translate policy into practice. "The government's new framework contains some fresh thinking ... It must now deliver on its plans."
However, there was criticism from the Conservatives. The shadow business secretary, Alan Duncan, said: "While other countries like Germany have been successfully building whole new industries based on low-carbon technologies, the UK has lost over a million manufacturing jobs since 1997, while our green-energy sector remains tiny."

UAE energy minister says OPEC policy won't change

The Associated Press
Published: September 8, 2008

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: The head of the United Arab Emirates delegation to Tuesday's OPEC meeting says the cartel's policy of keeping the world oil market "well supplied" has not and will not change.
Minister of Energy Mohammed Bin Dhaen al-Hamli was quoted by the state news agency as saying that crude oil stockpiles in heavily consuming countries are within recent average levels, indicating the market is "well-supplied."
Al-Hamli added in Monday's remarks that decisions on production levels are based on whether the market is well supplied and the recent fall in prices shows that the earlier rise was "too high, too fast."

The 'magic bullet' of energy supply

Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter

Carbon capture and storage is not the only solution to climate change in the offing but it is regarded widely as the best. If it can be made to work.
There are some, such as supporters of Greenpeace, who believe that fossil fuels should be dropped altogether as a source of energy; most analysts take a more pragmatic view, even if the proposed technology is very expensive.
Fossil fuels are one of the main contributors to climate change but they also offer an easily harnessed and well-understood source of energy.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) offers the prospect of a magic bullet: a way for the world to remain dependent on fossil fuels without sending global temperatures soaring to catastrophic levels.

The key to its appeal is the prospect of the West being able to go to China, India and other developing nations with technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially while not threatening their economic growth.
By extracting carbon dioxide from fossil fuels as they are burnt to provide energy, the main argument against oil, gas and particularly coal is removed.
The system is not expected to be perfect — at least 10 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions may still escape into the atmosphere to act as a greenhouse gas — but it should ensure that most emissions are captured. The CO2 can then be stored safely so that for many years to come, most likely millennia or even millions of years, it will remain trapped deep in the Earth and out of harm's way.
Oil and gasfields have been identified as ideal places to store captured CO2. Not only are they suitable for locking in gas, the CO2 can also make itself useful by increasing the underground pressure, forcing yet more oil or gas within reach of extraction pipes.
Moreover, from a British point of view, oil and gasfields approaching the end of their useful lives have the distinct advantage of being on our doorstep.
CCS increases the Government's options for maintaining security of energy supplies. Coal provides about a third of the country's electricity and, if that were to be reduced, new sources would be needed.
In a century when Britain is increasingly dependent on oil and gas supplies it seems wise to avoid becoming any more beholden than necessary to unstable or aggressive nations.
Introducing CCS technology would come with a financial cost: it is expected to add at least 20 per cent to the price of electricity.
Such a rise would, however, be about the same as that expected if enough money were invested in renewable sources to reduce society's dependence on fossil fuels significantly.
Furthermore, Sir Nicholas Stern, in his seminal report on the costs of climate change, calculated that if the world is to prevent temperatures rising by more than 2C, the absence of CCS will increase mitigation costs by 60 per cent.