December 6, 2021

Government must have an industrial energy strategy

The construction industry is experiencing damaging material challenges due to worldwide shortages and rising costs of manufacture, raw materials, and shipping but energy prices may end up the nail in the coffin for many manufacturing businesses, especially in Britain.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “The Government must do more to speak to the industries whose business futures rely on energy security and must consult with those already putting changes into place, such as those producing brick, block, glass and ceramics.

“More than 70% of materials in housebuilding are made in the UK, so with an industrial energy strategy, the Government has an opportunity to sustain and secure British manufacturing and employment in the long term, rather than allow other nations who do have an energy strategy to start with an advantage.”

The construction industry recognises the need to decarbonise and through Utility Team the NFB has been working with its members to move their energy supplies to renewable sources. Similarly, Brick manufacturer Ibstock has already accelerated their efforts to procure 100% of its energy from renewable sources and expects to hit that target by 2025.

Glass Futures has been working hard to implement alternative fuel switching technologies and the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) has used the 2021 Autumn Budget to ask treasury for £65m over a three-year period and matched by industry, to set up a ‘Virtual Ceramics Sustainability Hub’. This hub would help kickstart the decarbonisation of technologies within their sector, particularly in respect of hydrogen.

Mr Beresford continued: “Gas and electricity prices are already threatening the closure of a number of vital British manufacturers, therefore renewable and alternative energy will play an important role in our future.

Progress in energy security and innovation is a low hanging fruit and will not only help meet Britain’s net zero targets but provide a platform for levelling up to be sustained. This is a global challenge, with local and national needs. The time to invest in a plan to secure jobs, innovation in energy, British productivity and lower carbon footprints is now.”