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After all the talk of energy shortages and black-outs over the past week, I thought it’s time to take a more positive look at the energy policy horizon.  I’ve picked out a couple of highlights that might help us keep the faith through the long nights huddled around candles rubbing flints together: i) London Array – the world’s biggest offshore wind farm – was officially opened today by David Cameron.  It’s only… Read More

The conclusion of the government’s consultation on planning guidance for onshore wind farms in England has thrown up some significant changes.  Here are my initial thoughts: – the idea of discounts on energy bills for communities living near wind farms is logical, simple, and personal.  It is a shame that it has taken so long for developers to offer this incentive.  But it will set an interesting precedent in planning  – should… Read More

As the Energy Bill  hots up this week, it is essential that the government keeps its head and resists calls for a new target of 50gCO2/kWh by 2030.  Here’s how I see it: Why now? – targets that attempt to centrally mandate a rapid scale-up of renewables should not be set until there is more certainty on grid resiliance, energy storage, CCS and demand management. – the problems of the UK’s planning… Read More

It was no lesser authority than Kenny Rogers who revealed in his 1978 country classic that ‘Every gambler knows; the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep’.   It is a logic that has been whispered around card tables and hollered at barn dances from Kent to Kentucky ever since.  But today saw perhaps its most unusual application to date.  Forget the precautionary principle or sustainable… Read More

There is a whisper circulating around Westminster that Nick Clegg wants an opportunity to replace Danny Alexander with Ed Davey in the ‘quad’ that settles key coalition policy.   If it happens it would freshen up the central coalition team, dispel any Lib Dem fears of a double agent (Alexander) in the heart of government, and provide a direct challenge to George Osborne’s anti-green agenda.   In short, it’s a good idea. The timing… Read More

Last week’s by-election result has thrown the cat amongst the political pigeons, and the spirit of revolution has made it through to the Observer’s business pages.  Citing the refusal of Centrica to use its enormous profits to build more gas-fired power stations in the short term,  today’s Business Leader asks the surprising rhetorical: “Should not public money go into….a publicly owned utility?”. I had thought that agitating for nationalisation was something the Guardian… Read More

Decarbonisation is an ugly, overweight word.  On twitter it is cut to ‘decarb’; like a statutory pasta rationing regime.  But for green groups, it’s the rationing of targets not tagliatelle that is causing stomachs to rumble. Not satisfied with emissions targets for 2050 and 2020, binding carbon budgets, EU renewables targets and global emissions pledges, some environmentalists are demanding another helping of targets.  Or perhaps this is the icing on a layered… Read More

Huhne’s Long Shadow There is never a good day for a former Cabinet minister to admit perverting the course of justice.  However for the department he once led and the green policies he once championed, the guilty plea of former Sec of State for Climate, Chris Huhne, could not have come at a worse time. Since Huhne resigned to ‘clear his name’, Ed Davey and his colleagues at DECC have battled to… Read More

High profile Conservatives (including the Chancellor and the Energy minister John Hayes) spent most of 2012 trying to undermine and diminish the UK’s already doubtful commitment to building a  green economy.   Whether is was vetoing decarbonisation targets in the Energy Bill or publicly criticising proven renewable technologies, the dog whistle politics of backing industry or countryside lobbies over environmental concerns was too tempting to resist.  By the end of the year Tory… Read More

It was a gentle and carefree ride for David Cameron through his supposed ‘grilling’ by the Ad Hoc Select Committee on Tuesday. Facing questions on energy policy, the committee had an arsenal of ammunition at their disposal.  Bickering ministers, contradictory policies and extraordinary vetoes could have put the Prime Minister in the cross hairs.  Sadly the committee members were mostly firing blanks.  Cameron was comfortable, so comfortable in fact that his greatest… Read More