LAST week the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published it Price of Power: Reforming the Electricity Market Report. Its findings could be the wake-up call Downing Street needs with respect to the sorry state of the UK electricity industry.
Their Lordships are unambiguous and unequivocal in their conclusions, soundbites from which include: “The growth of renewable energy supported by contracts that guarantee a given price for a fixed period has left the UK facing a possible shortage of capacity as investors have not been willing to build new conventional power plants.”
Indeed Professor Deiter Helm of Oxford University commented that “capacity margins are effectively nought so the security of supply problem is back with a vengeance”.
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The report also said “successive governments are perhaps guilty of overlooking security at times” and mentioned “the disincentives for private investment in electricity generation created by the growth of intermittent renewables”.
The report adds that “we must] ensure that security of supply is always the first and most important consideration in energy policy. Affordability and decarbonisation must not be prioritised ahead of security. This may mean waiting for the development of new technologies which can reduce emissions.”
It concludes that constant intervention by successive governments in the electricity sector has led to a complicated uncompetitive market “that is failing consumers and businesses”.
It confirms that domestic electric bills in Britain have risen from second cheapest in Europe to seventh since the mid-2000s with decarbonisation having added more than 10 per cent to our average bill. Bills for UK industry are now among the highest in Europe.
The report sees the need to create a National Energy Research Centre to search for “new methods of producing cheap, clean energy and translate them into commercial applications” and an Energy Commission to “provide greater scrutiny of energy policy decisions”
I believe we need to go further and provide such a group with the legal authority to system-model (which is not presently being done) establish, dictate and enforce the future requirements for our networks to guarantee the UK’s security.
The report further logically advocates the development of a “Plan B” to address the possibility that the proposed Hinckley new nuclear station is delayed or fails to produce the anticipated power, which is a real possibility given the difficulties the selected design is having in the Flammanville project.
Following their Lordships’ report the silence from renewables groups and the subsidy sustained wind and biomass generators has been deafening - a result, presumably, of its clinical disentrailing and exposure of the reliability reducing and cost-increasing contribution so called “renewables” are making to our energy networks.
Let us hope Downing Street has not binned it upon arrival.
Saviskaill, Langdales Avenue, Cumbernauld.