Tony Juniper: Energy policy requires joined-up long-term thinking based on evidence and consistent choices. The infrastructure needed to achieve the secure supply of affordable and sustainable energy must give confidence to investors, anticipate technology trends and seek synergies between priorities that apparently pull in different directions. During recent years we’ve entered a period wherein UK energy policy has ceased to do this and instead has become driven by political short-termism, is increasingly incoherent and has fallen victim to ideology and the internal politics of the Conservative Party. The result will be outcomes opposite to those signalled in ministerial soundbites that speak of ‘keeping the lights on’ and lowering bills for ‘hard working families’. In just a few months several decades of progress toward a sustainable low-carbon energy system was thrown into reverse. Support for on-shore wind was axed, so was backing for Britain’s fast-growing solar power sector. Incentives for generators to displace coal with biomass were ended while policies to deliver zero carbon homes and low carbon commercial buildings were scrapped. Long-standing plans for carbon capture and storage demonstration projects were axed too. The new power policy that staggered from the wreckage of the old one was based on a mix of new nuclear power stations, an increased reliance on gas (to be increasingly obtained by the controversial process of fracking) and the expansion of offshore wind power generating capacity. To say that this new policy was conceived on thin ice is a gross understatement. Take the killing of on-shore wind. Despite bending over backwards to create the conditions for the French Government owned EDF to invest in new stations in the UK, there are serious wobbles going on across the English Channel, where EDF executives, French ministers and labour unions are expressing grave doubts as to whether building new rectors at Hinkely Point in Somerset is a good idea. Doubters have quite rightly seen major risks ahead, not least based on the on-going difficulties EDF is facing in delivering similar reactors in Finland and France.
IB Times 21st May 2016 read more »