The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee (sic) has produced a report accusing the Treasury of (in the BBC’s words):
making the government’s clean energy revolution unworkable and creating the risk of higher household bills.
Tim Yeo, the Chairman of the Committee, is upset that the government will not now act as guarantor for loans for building green power schemes:
This will result in higher borrowing costs, and make banks less likely to make loans.
Mr Yeo is also championing the wind energy industry:
The chancellor is being urged by backbenchers to make major cuts to the support for onshore wind. That would cause serious damage to the industry.
This is another thing that will have a perverse effect because onshore wind is the cheapest way of meeting our renewables targets.
The Treasury responded that it was increasing the price of fossil-fuelled electricity:
He also pointed out that the Treasury had introduced the controversial carbon price floor to push up the cost of fossil fuel generation, with the aim of making alternative low-carbon energy sources more attractive economically.
So there you have it.
The climate change brigade complaining that the government isn’t providing enough of our taxes to subsidise wind power, and the Treasury defending itself by saying it has made fossil fuel more expensive.
Nobody mentions where those “renewables targets” came from. (They were agreed by Tony Blair.) But they are all agreed on one thing: we should pay more – all of us. They are only debating how much we should pay through our taxes, and how much through our energy bills.
The green power lobby has consistently claimed that green power will be cheaper. They were lying. Green power is more expensive. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t need government help.
Meanwhile, the government still refuses to give any support at all to the Severn Barrage tidal power scheme. That would provide a huge amount of power from a tidal power station built across the Severn Estuary. The government decided not to build it on the spurious grounds that it couldn’t be financed without government support. It would cost, by the way, less than the HS2 High Speed railway.
The government claims it is in favour of nuclear power. But so far no company has made a final decision to build any new nuclear stations. They take several years to build and the energy crunch comes earlier, in 2016, when the EU shuts down Britain’s big coal fired stations because they produce too much carbon dioxide.
E-On and RWE, two big German energy companies, pulled out of their plans for nuclear stations in Britain in March, saying that
nuclear power was simply too long-term an investment in the current economic climate.
The government’s energy policy is all over the place. It is not that they are supporting the wrong things, or doing the wrong things, but simply that they appear to have no clear or consistent policy at all.
Now it is fair to point out that the Energy (and Climate Change) department did have the misfortune to be led by Chris Huhne for a couple of years. He left in February though. He was replaced by Ed Davey, who has made no impact at all as far as I can see.
What an utter shambles it all is.
The tragedy of this is that there is a workable consensus on energy, regardless of the debate about climate change.
Sure, people like me want coal fired power, and the greens want windmills. We can argue about those until the cows come home.
But let’s all get on with the bits we can agree on. We all ought to be able to support the Severn Barrage and new nuclear stations (with the possible exception of the lunatic fringe of the green movement, and they will oppose anything). The government says it wants to invest in infrastructure – well, here are some ready-made infrastructure projects waiting for their financial support.
Mr Davey needs to get off his bottom and promote a clear vision for Britain’s energy policy. Most of it need not be controversial – but if he doesn’t get a move on, we will face an energy shortage within only a few years.