Will energy policy influence the next election?

Britain’s energy crisis looks set to hit customers as the Coalition reaches the end of its fixed term. For the first time since the 1970s, energy policy could influence the outcome of the next election.

Today Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan warns that falls in Britain’s power production capacity are likely to lead to more energy imports and customers paying more. Over the last six years, the Centre for Policy Studies has highlighted the repeated failure by politicians of all parties to address the impending energy crisis:

  • We warned in 2007 that the UK would face an energy crunch by 2015/16 as coal and oil plants are closed due to meet EU rules. The CPS called for these plants to receive life extensions and for the UK to derogate from the EU rules (See Clean Coal, 2007)
  • We warned in 2008 that subsidies for wind energy were both wasteful and uneconomic as they make no difference to final energy supply (See Wind Chill, 2008). 
  • We warned in 2009 that the UK risked overdependence on foreign gas by 2020. The CPS called for the Government to approve the then proposed Kingsnorth clean coal power station to kick start clean coal new build and diversify future electricity generation (See Step off the Gas, 2009).
  • We warned in 2012 that the new nuclear programme was in trouble and no new plants would now be opened before 2022 (See The Atomic Clock, 2012).
  • We warned that the new carbon price floor – to be introduced on April 1st – will pile more costs on consumers’ and industrial energy bills and further reduce UK economic competitiveness (See The Atomic Clock, 2012).

CPS energy analyst Tony Lodge comments:

“The energy crisis is real and is near. The Conservatives risk being hit at the ballot box as energy bills soar. It should move to retain some older coal and oil generating plant in an ’emergency power reserve’ and get on with delivering new nuclear as a priority. The stakes could not be higher.”

CPS Director Tim Knox comments:

“Politicians have kicked the energy can down the road for too long. That can is now going to blow up: households will end up paying the price in higher energy bills and maybe even energy outages. This was both predictable and unnecessary. We now urgently need a clear policy designed to meet the twin aims of lower energy costs and greater security of supply.”

Date Added: Tuesday 19th February 2013