Clark and Cameron launch 12-pronged Tory energy strategy
Greg Clark, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and David Cameron have just launched the Conservative Party's policy paper on energy. It's called Rebuilding Security. Download a PDF to access a fascinating series of graphs.
It sets out the strategic challenge over the next ten years:
- We will become increasingly reliant on imports as North Sea oil and gas production goes into steep decline;
- One third of our current electricity generating capacity will close by 2020;
- We are required (by EU agreement) to raise our proportion of renewably-sourced energy to 15% from 2.5% today;
- We have committed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34% from 1990 levels;
- Between £100 and £200 billion of new investment in our energy infrastructure is needed according to Ofgem.
The paper sets our four objectives for Tory energy policy:
- Security: Britain must be able to count on, today and in the future, reliable supplies of energy for electricity, heating and transport;
- Sustainability: Our wellbeing depends on a healthy environment. In extracting, generating and using energy we must safeguard the ecosystems we rely on;
- Economy: Energy is a necessity of daily life for consumers and business. We want it to be abundant and affordable*;
- Opportunity: Historically, energy has been a sector of British industrial and commercial strength. We want to develop and deploy those strengths to create new wealth for the country.
The meat of the paper comes via a dozen policy actions:
- Ensure that Britain has a clear, consistent and stable energy policy. Ministers – not quangos, advisory bodies or regulators – should be unambiguously responsible for determining policy.
- Establish a capacity guarantee in the electricity market. The regulator would be able to make long-term commitments on behalf of consumers to provide certainty of payment for new capacity.
- Establish a security guarantee for gas supply. Britain must not play a passive role at the end of a long Eurasian supply chain.
- Reform the Climate Change Levy to provide a floor price for carbon.
- Operate a streamlined planning process for large infrastructure investments. Conservatives will retain, the provisions made in the 2008 Planning Act for a streamlined, fast-track planning process for major infrastructure projects.
- Facilitate nuclear power. [The positive statements on nuclear power are a far cry from the early days of David Cameron when nuclear power was described as a last resort.]
- Accelerate the demonstration of carbon capture and storage. To ensure Britain can use coal without damaging the environment.
- Promote renewable energy. CHP, waste heat capture, biomass, biogas, geothermal and microgeneration technologies will be promoted as well as wind, wave and tidal energy resources.
- Revolutionise supply and demand by building an energy internet. A smart grid that will encourage more responsible and cost-effective use of energy by industrial and domestic consumers.
- Reduce demand by offering every household a Green Deal on energy efficiency. Every household in Britain will benefit from 'a Green Deal' of up to £6,500 worth of energy efficiency improvements at no upfront cost.
- Electrify transport to reduce dependence on oil. With efforts focusing on railways and cars.
- Create a Green Investment Bank. In conjunction with the Treasury, Green ISAs and Green Bonds will be designed to leverage private sector finance and allow retail and institutional investors to participate more easily in the major task of building clean energy systems.
* Matt Sinclair of the TaxPayers' Alliance worries at the cost of the Tories' carbon agenda.