I submitted this letter to the FT in response to a tendentious leading comment. (A special thanks is due to former Labour MP Alan Simpson for inspiring the argument by a recent feature he published http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2d73-Blinded-by-the-lights#.VKdEMY10yM8)
Your leader comment “Britain’s energy policy needs to be reviewed”, (
January 2) argues that the Coalition has erred in following Labour’s failure to build new power generation capacity, despite pledging to do so.(
You argue that “A better course would see Britain loosen the environmental corset, while investing in science to deliver the sort of technologies that can decarbonise at reasonable cost;” and that “a bigger concern is the framework the government’s reforms have put in place", to replace decommissioned power plants.
This view is energetically myopic. One of the absurd failures of Britain’s first round of electricity capacity market “auctions” held late last month (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-first-ever-capacity-market-auction-official-results-have-been-released-today) was that less than 1 per cent of the contracts went into electrical power “demand reduction” measures.
Our MPs could easily have changed the nature of the auction by specifying that a certain realistic percentage, say 50 per cent of the contracts, should go into schemes designed to consume less and save more, but Parliament did not so legislate, mainly due to a distinct lack of imagination by the Labour oppostion front bench Energy and Climate Change team.
A more radical opposition boldly, they could have pressed for a “carbon cap” on where this energy came from, or at least a minimum proportion that had to come from renewable sources, but because of their illogical support for expensive nuclear power and the indexation of very high power prices - which your leader rightly criticises - they did not argue for such commitments.
Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, led by the economically competent Angela Merkel, has however made such bold energy decisions, phasing out nuclear and switching to a combination of innovative demand-side energy strategies and renewable energy technologies.
Indeed, Dr Eicke Weber director of influential Munich-based Fraunhofer Institute, (http://www.fraunhofer.de/en.html) and a professor of physics at the University of Freiburg, has just led its latest scientific audit about Germany’s transition plans towards a cleaner/greener energy economy, concluding: “It is economically to our (ie Germany’s) advantage to move as quickly as possible to a system of 80 per cent renewable energy.”
This is far from what your leader dubs as “green posturing.” It is hard-nosed, economically robust reality.