The government has repeatedly cited official forecasts of rising energy costs to justify cuts to subsidies for renewables, saying consumer bills need to be kept under control. But the calculations behind the forecasts – until now undisclosed – show it expects domestic energy bills to be nearly £100 lower in 2020 than previously thought, despite rising subsidies. The revelation comes in emails exchanged last May between senior civil servants at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Treasury. The redacted emails – classified as “sensitive” – have been released by DECC to Carbon Brief following a long-running Freedom of Information request. The updated estimates – made in early 2015, but not previously released – found an average household energy bill would be £1,222 in 2020, some 7% (£97) lower than the £1,319 projection made the previous year. The reduction is largely down to falling fossil fuel prices. With fossil fuels responsible for about half of the UK’s power generation in 2015, DECC now expects wholesale electricity to cost less than 5p per unit in 2020, around 10% lower than it was projecting a year earlier. Yet ministers have repeatedly cited the official forecasts when explaining their changes to green energy policy. For example, Amber Rudd, energy and climate change secretary, told parliament in September: “I was shocked to find the scale of the [renewable energy subsidy] overspend and have therefore responded in order to keep consumer bills under control.”
Carbon Brief 4th Jan 2016 read more »
This paper offers a new, interdisciplinary framework for the analysis of governing for sustainable energy system change by drawing together insights from, and offering critiques of, socio-technical transitions and new institutionalist concepts of change. Institutions of all kinds, including rules and norms within political and energy systems, tend to have path-dependent qualities that make them difficult to change, whereas we also know that profound change has occurred in the past. Current decisions to pursue climate change mitigation by dramatically changing how energy is produced and used depend to some extent on finding the right enabling conditions for such change. The approach adopted here reveals the highly political and contingent nature of attempts to govern for innovations, how political institutions mediate differently between forces for sustainable change and forces for continuity, as well as specific interactions between governance and practice change within energy systems. It concludes that it is only by being specific about the contingent nature of governing for innovations, and about how this affects practices in energy systems differently, that those of us interested in sustainability can credibly advise policy makers and drive for greater change.
IGov 31st Dec 2015 read more »