Skip to main content

The role of public power - The potential for a publicly owned energy business in Britain

A publicly owned energy company, along the lines of the Labour party’s proposal for Great British Energy (GBE), could focus investment on a number of key areas and help ensure that most of the jobs created by that investment are located in Britain, a report by Nick Butler argues.

The report says the “uncomfortable but inescapable fact” is that, with a few honourable exceptions, the UK has been “painfully slow” to develop the businesses capable of delivering the green transition.

For example, it highlights that not one of the world’s 20 largest wind turbine manufacturers is based in the UK, and that the main elements of the Hinkley Point nuclear reactor are designed and built in France. Meanwhile, energy grid technology is dominated by Chinese companies and by the recently joint venture between Hitachi and ABB.

Instead of creating a new generating company that produces green energy, the report proposes that the retail side of the energy market should be controlled through a new, stronger regulator, with GBE established as a strategic investor that draws in private capital as well as public funding to create a low-carbon industrial base in Britain.