Secure, affordable, low carbon energy?
Is the Coalition failing all three of its energy policy tests?
UK greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3.5% in 2012.
The Committee on Climate Change reckons the CO2 increase is due to generators switching from gas to cheaper coal, the cold winter and a slowdown in renewable investment. A dash for [shale] gas wont help, least of all without carbon capture. The advisory committee says: “To deliver four CCS projects by 2020 (as set out in the Coalition Agreement in 2010), government would need to proceed more quickly with other CCS projects than currently planned.”
Ofgem is predicting an increased risk of power cuts in 2015-16.
This could affect domestic and industry consumers. Ofgem is consulting industry on how much to pay firms to shut down in peak periods. The capacity margin, in the jargon, could fall to 2%. “If demand were to remain broadly flat then the risks to security of supply would be markedly higher than in the ‘reference scenario’ [see graph], reaching up to 9 hours in 2015/16.”
Since last year, the outlook for power supply side has deteriorated, with the loss of more than 2GW of capacity in the near future. Uncertainty around government policy and future prices continues to limit investment in conventional power (coal and gas). No new plant is expected before 2016. Mothballed plant could be re-opened – not a cost-effective option.
Fuel price rises in 2011 contributed to the rise in the aggregate and average fuel poverty gap.
The data is 2 years old, but the total number of households in fuel poverty apparently fell from 4.75m to 4.5m households between 2010 and 2011, due partly to energy efficiency measures like home insulation. The figures apply to the last year in which the full Warm Front budget (c. £350m) supported by the previous Labour administration was available.
Only four people have so far signed up to the Green Deal, the flagship government scheme to make homes more energy-efficient, launched six months ago.
This all seems a far cry from Planning our electric future, the Coalition’s strategy (2011) for secure, affordable and low‑carbon electricity.