Monday, December 19, 2005

Malcolm Wicks launches the energy review

Malcolm Wicks has launched the opening salvo in the energy review.

Although the consultation document won't be out till January, he used his speech today to the Social Market Foundation to lay out his stall.
He said there will be a series of seminars around the country so that everyone has an opportunity to examine the facts and give their views.

The context

  • by 2020 only around 7% of our electricity might come from nuclear, down from 19%
  • 16% will come from coal generation, down from 16%
  • So 30% of current generating capacity will be decommissioned during these 15 years
  • we will be a net importer of oil by 2010, as well as of gas
  • fossil fuel prices are rising fast.

If we carried on as now, by 2020 we may be importing over 80% of our gas and be reliant on oil to fuel our transport, and will miss all our climate change commitments.

What about renewables?

"We have ambitious climate change targets to meet," said Wicks. "But alternative energy sources take time to develop. At the present rate many of them are unlikely to be able to make a significant contribution to our longer-term energy needs."
"Renewables – at present, predominantly wind turbines - will play a key role going forward as the Renewables Obligation delivers an increasing level of new generation capacity - but it cannot provide the whole answer either to generation capacity issues or to our carbon goals.
"Other renewables will emerge over time as significant players, such as microgeneration, wave and tidal. But currently only wind can provide meaningful levels of low carbon capacity at a cost comparable to existing non-renewable technologies such as gas, coal and nuclear."

Looking afresh at the evidence

He tried to dispel "false assumptions" about the review.
  • It's not about finding one solution to all these challenges
  • carbon capture and storage is part of the picture
  • Campaigning for further liberalisation of the european energy market is too.
He concluded:
"One lesson personally learnt so far from this winter is that any discussion of long-term energy policy can cause more knee jerk reactions than a production of River Dance!
"I am not interested in spending the next few months responding to those people who have written off this review as a forgone [sic] conclusion - or who believe that there is only one answer to the challenges we’re facing.
"Some are more interested in advancing the superiority of their own position than considering afresh the evidence. That is why we are sticking to the facts and looking to engage with people who are ready to have a serious debate."

Well, The Low Carbon Kid won't take this snipe personally. I always believe in being open, transparent and objective.
Facts: bring on the superglue and I'll stick to them. Serious? Are you joking?

No comments: