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Smouldering energy policy

Posted 01/06/2010 by RoseS

A week is a long time in politics, or so said the late Labour prime minister Harold Wilson who served two non-consecutive terms in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also said to be responsible for coining the phrase ‘the white heat of the [technological] revolution’ , which might also be said to be applicable in the case of UK energy policy. And since writing the Editor’s Blog last week, this lengthy period of time has seen a change in the tone of the UK energy debate but as for the ‘white heat’, it might be more appropriate to describe it as a barely smouldering ember.

The UK energy secretary, Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, appears to have softened his position on nuclear power in an interview with the UK newspaper The Sunday Times. As the paper reported, Huhne once described nuclear power as a ‘failed’ technology but over the past week he now appears to have read the agreement signed by the two parties in the UK’s new coalition government.

‘It is very clear from the coalition agreement that there will be a new generation of nuclear power,’ he told the newspaper. He has, however, confirmed that there will be no government subsidies for the construction of these power stations.

He still believes the prospect of construction will attract investors as the projected rise in gas and oil prices in the coming years makes nuclear power more attractive. ‘They are looking at the likely rise in the carbon price. That will provide an incentive to all low-carbon and zero-carbon forms of energy.’

So the market will decide – where have we heard that before? The past week obviously hasn’t brought some appreciation that this same market is waiting for some signal of stability in this government’s approach that might provide non-financial support for the development of alternative energy.

The last government had made some moves towards speeding the planning process, for example, but the new coalition has said very little about such changes. Until it does, potential suppliers of alternative energy supplies will continue to sit on the fence. There has to be an understanding from government that carbon-free energy will not just appear out of thin air.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    22/06/2013 01:10

    We dont need a climate chgnae bill because climate chgnae is a natural cycle the earth has gone through for millions of years. We need to drill for more of our own oil instead of getting it from other countries. As for the oil spill there are over 3,500 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. One has an explosion and you libs want to stop drilling for oil. I think 1 rig blowing up out of over 3,500 out there in the gulf is pretty safe. This is like a once in a lifetime event

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