Can we have low carbon and lower bills? It could be possible. While many low carbon technologies are currently expensive, the future is unknown. New discoveries and innovations will happen and are not predictable. Some low carbon technologies could become very much cheaper.
As a result of this unpredictability, no-one can plan today how to decarbonise successfully. And the design of policy needs to recognise this, if we are to lower carbon while keeping bills as low as possible.
Let’s recall the track record of predictions in the energy sector. Remember when nuclear was going to be too cheap to meter? The prospects of a dash for gas didn’t feature in the mid-1980s electricity policy debate, yet was its dominant feature by the early 1990s. Few if any were predicting six years ago how shale gas has now transformed the US energy market. And even more recently the UK Government has been caught out by steeply falling costs of solar energy.
It’s hard to predict even a few years ahead, let alone over the time it will take to decarbonise – to 2030 and 2050.