Over the next decade and beyond the UK is taking significant steps towards developing a new energy economy. A wide range of renewable energy technologies are expected to play an important role in reshaping the way we meet our energy requirements.
HSE recognised that it faced a challenge in keeping pace with the development of new energy technologies and the rapid growth in the industry. As a result, HSE created the Emerging Energies Technologies (EET) Program, which has now ended, in order to understand the hazards and risks involved in new energy technologies so it can play its role as a supportive and enabling regulator.
HSE used its knowledge and experience to undertake an evidence-based assessment of both new and familiar hazards associated with emerging energy technologies. The following list highlights some of the most significant health and safety challenges:
HSE considers the general provisions of the existing Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 provides the basis of a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for renewable energy generation across both onshore and offshore health & safety regimes.
HSE will focus on harnessing tried and tested approaches wherever possible, and on utilising the existing regulatory framework wherever it is flexible enough to respond to new developments in the years ahead. This framework will be kept under review.
The potential for unforeseen developments will require HSE to keep hazards and risks – and industry’s ability to control those hazards and risks – under close review.
HSE has learned from many years of experience of regulating existing energy technologies and other hazardous industries both on and offshore. It will continue to apply its expertise intelligently to new and emerging technologies, but it remains the responsibility of those developing and deploying new technologies to identify the risks and implement appropriate management and control measures.
HSE’s role does not involve recommending, endorsing or stating a preference for any one energy technology or another. Our role is one of enabling any/all of these technologies to be adopted safely taking account of potential risks to those who will build, operate and maintain the facilities and any risks to the public arising from work activities.
Compiled by HSE’s Emerging Energy Technologies Programme, the report 'Health and safety in the new energy economy' provides an overview of the health & safety hazards that key emerging energy technologies could pose, both to workers and to the public at large. Appropriate regulations help ensure that these hazards are managed and controlled effectively – an essential element in enabling new technologies to make a major contribution to the UK’s energy future.