Opinion: What can we hope from Great British Energy?

Opinion: What can we hope from Great British Energy?

By Mabel Wellman.

After 14 years, the Conservatives have been defeated.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we can expect to hear more information about from the new Labour government is the creation of the public company, Great British Energy (GBE).

GBE will work with industry and trade unions to invest in new green technology, support “capital intensive projects” and deploy local energy production nationwide. They will put 8.3 billion pounds into the company.

What I am most excited by is the local projects this should foster. This includes wind, solar and hydroelectricity projects.

In Southampton we have a district energy scheme. It was the first geothermal power scheme in the UK. It is green, it helps power a lot of commercial buildings in the  city centre and there is a heat network too for local buildings. It produces about 26,000 Megawatts of electricity and generates 80,000 Megawatts of heat a year. It also has cooling systems to chill water for commercial use. We could see more schemes like this pop up to innovate how we heat homes and generate power.

It would be very exciting if, almost like local grants, cities and towns could research and put together a local energy plan using solar, onshore wind, and other green power technology. And then be awarded money and resources to help put the plan into practice.

Labour seems to have rightfully agreed that energy production NEEDS to increase in the UK, especially after Brexit. There needs to be an improvement in energy infrastructure. With solar energy, a lot of energy is produced when it is NOT needed, and there is not a great capacity right now to be able to store that energy to use when it is in demand. So there does need to be an improvement to infrastructure within the National Grid to store energy. I believe infrastructure to store energy could make up a big bit of the “capital projects” that are mentioned in the manifesto, but probably also to incorporate the aforementioned hydroelectric power. With how exciting and far-reaching this sounds, I’m worried the 8.3 billion over the next parliament (probably meaning over 5 years) just won’t be enough money for GBE to fully reach its full potential.

It is disappointing, because a big reason why the infrastructure just isn’t here in the UK, is because of privatisation. It’s because many companies have owners in foreign countries and stakeholders to award large sums of money. EDF is actually a French municipal company, so the profits from British customers are helping to make energy for French customers cheaper instead of helping us. With this and any other foreign owned company, the profits are going abroad and there seems to be a lack of desire to reinvest the profits back into the system here. 

I think Labour is going to have a very expensive future to get British power up to scratch, and believe nationalisation could do it faster. GBE will help with getting bills down and making Britain greener, but nationalisation of the entire industry sector (with over a billion pounds of profits a year to reinvest) could do it in under a decade. I worry if GBE lasts more than a decade it will take much longer to make the same accomplishments and improvements – which is, of course, providing that Great British Energy is funded and kept alive for successive governments for long enough, and doesn’t meet the same fate as HS2.

It will, however, create a lot of jobs in the UK which is a big benefit. Labour also say that they will work with industry and trade unions as well as other energy companies to hopefully see thousands of successful projects for making energy, cheaper bills, and support people to find fulfilling work.

  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: https://www.patreon.com/