Responding to the news that the Government has published a new ‘Energy Security Strategy’ (07 April 2022), CEO of Mersey Maritime, Chris Shirling-Rooke, writes:
“We’ve seen unprecedented turmoil in the economy in recent years with the Covid-19 pandemic and not forgetting the adjustments necessary to deal with the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Our country and the maritime industry has worked hard and fared well in weathering the storms that have been thrown at it but the last couple of months has seen another major challenge as a result of the international situation and global uncertainty unleashed by the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia. It has thrown into sharp relief the need for Britain to accelerate its own move towards more homegrown energy and to radically reduce our reliance on external sources. Yet whilst cleaner and greener energy is a worthy aspiration in the long term, we need to be realistic now about the steps we can take to protect our supplies and indeed our pockets from record high gas prices around the world.
“There’s a massive opportunity for the maritime industry too in the changes we need to see and which are being prioritised as a result of this strategy today. It is a clear demonstration also of the depth and breadth of maritime which is more than just the traditional industries associated with ports and shipping. Offshore wind is massive in maritime and will continue to be so in the years ahead, something we know only too well here in Liverpool given our proximity to the large scale windfarms in the bay just off our coast. And just down the road, clustered around the Stanlow Oil Refinery, we are beginning to see the potential for new technology around hydrogen production that has a major part to play in industrial decarbonisation priorities. Announcements that seek to expand Britain’s nuclear, wind, solar and hydrogen programmes are something our sector can get behind at an early stage.
“The possibilities are considerable for us. Who wouldn’t want to be part of efforts that are likely to see some 40,000 new jobs in low carbon industries created, and possibly as many as 480,000 clean jobs by 2030? Private sector investment will have a crucial role to play in all this as new British industries build on our historic heritage of leading the world in the development of new technologies. Our region, here in Merseyside, has a big opportunity to grasp.
“The scale of ambition is significant. From a commitment to rebuild Britain’s nuclear industry and oversee the massive expansion in nuclear reactors, including small modular reactors, increasing ambition on offshore wind that will see it generate 50GW of power by 2030, to ramping up low carbon hydrogen production to 10GW by 2030 – it isn’t difficult to see that the maritime industry can have a real and important role in either helping to deliver these priorities or to benefit from them as we transition from the fuels of the past to the green fuels of the future.
“Yet we must also be realistic. Ending our reliance on overseas energy sources means we need to look closer to home. And that means supporting North Sea oil and gas; it’s a commonsense approach. Until we can maximise the benefits of a full spectrum of renewable energy sources, we must maximise our own natural resources as fully as possible – we have an abundance, let’s use it.”