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Tom Burke is chairman of E3G.
No-one could doubt the ambition of the British government’s just-announced independent review of energy costs. It will consider the whole electricity supply chain – so not gas then? It will look at ‘generation, transmission, distribution and supply’. Odd that consumers seem not to be part of the supply chain.
Even so, more is required. It is to consider ‘The rapid closure of coal, the ageing of the existing nuclear fleet, the intermittency of some renewables, the scope for demand management and new storage, the coming of electric vehicles and the timing of new nuclear capacity coming on stream…’ It will then ‘set out options for a long-term road map for the power sector..’
There is more in a similarly expansive vein in the inquiry’s terms of reference. All to be done in three months. This brings to mind John McEnroe’s famous plea: ‘You can’t be serious.’ This vast array of complex issues is highly contested. A very large number of people spend all day, every day, working on them. There are few simple or widely agreed answers.
Nor should one doubt the bravery of Professor Helm and his panel in taking on this challenge. He is an acknowledged energy policy expert. His opinions on these issues are well known, though not always shared. He has a considerable body of already published work to draw on in the effort to meet such a tight deadline.