The energy trilemma plus one

30th Jul 2018


By now most readers of this blog will be familiar with the term “energy trilemma” – referring of course to the choices facing the UK around energy security, affordability and of course the need to meet the UK’s greenhouse gas emission targets.

Whatever path the UK chooses, it needs to factor in all three. And meeting these competing objectives isn’t easy, as we know. So let’s make it really interesting and add another challenge – let’s include the economic impact of energy policy too, on jobs and growth.

Yes, there is a term for it. The energy quadrilemma.

So what might be considered? Firstly there is the jobs angle. Direct employment in our sector is around 200,000 people. That is not small beer. The impact of those jobs in the UK economy should never be underestimated and the work is spread across the UK, with all the regions having their share of economic benefit. Indirect employment could be four times that figure.

Now not everyone will agree, but these jobs are usually well paid. Certainly, the terms and conditions are better than working on the minimum wage or zero hour contracts. The pay for staff working at the GDNs, as an example, has increased over the past ten years at a faster rate than that of typical public sector workers. I mention this as an aside, but an argument some might make about future ownership plans some might have for the gas networks.

The energy quadrilemma is something often underplayed. More about it next week.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO