As an engineer in the power sector, I read recent letters from David Cowton and Alan Thompson in News Post Leader with particular interest.
The next decade or so will see a wholesale revolution in the way that our energy is generated and delivered.
The majority of our power generation fleet will need to be replaced, whilst massive changes to our national grid will be implemented to make our electricity grid ‘smarter’ and more efficient.
This represents a massive £200bn (Ofgem estimate) investment and the north east is well placed to help in the delivery of these changes.
This revolution will be propelled by the present government’s market reforms (to be implemented next year) that will provide much safer investments to existing and new energy providers, allowing them to access cheaper sources of capital and thus reduce cost to the consumer.
This is something that is in marked contrast to the previous Labour government whose then energy minister, Ed Milliband, added many green levies to our electricity bills and more generally presided over a series of rapid energy price rises without taking action.
Mr Cowton effectively asks in his letter: can coal not help fill a gap in the market? The answer to that is, yes.
But will this be in the form of deep mines? Likely it will not.
There is, however, every chance it will be through technologies being promoted by the likes of Five Quarters, a Newcastle-based company which is promoting a technology that turns coal in to gas underground and extracts it for use on the surface before returning carbon dioxide back to the original seam.
This company was awarded a £15m grant earlier this year from the present government, through the Regional Growth Fund, to help propel its ideas, and I can only hope that the north east wholeheartedly embraces this and other technologies.
It is these sort of schemes and technologies that will help lay the foundations for a successful economy that Alan Thompson refers in his letter.
Yes, Labour did close more pits than the Conservatives did.
However, I share Alan’s view, and what I worry about is that old Labour are going to see our region miss out on our potentially bright new future because all they look to is the past.
The north east was the home of the industrial revolution, we still have internationally recognised engineering companies who have a global reach and companies like Five Quarters who are pioneering new technology.
There must be an effort to help build bridges between these companies, the communities in which they are based, the government and the market.
I hope that we can all get engaged with that and I welcome anyone who is interested in seeing what we can do to help make that happen making contact with me.