Osborne blocks Davey bid for wind power subsidies as Energy Permanent Secretary quits
By Paul Goodman
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- The Financial Times (£) reports this morning that George Osborne "is blocking a new subsidy regime for renewable energy".
- Ed Davey, in the meanwhile, "wants to prioritise renewables".
- David Cameron and Nick Clegg "have been unable to strike a compromise".
- Meanwhile, the Guardian has the news that the Energy Department's Permanent Secretary has quit.
- The Department claims that "her departure is entirely of her own choosing – four years is generally considered the norm for a permanent secretary".
- However, the paper claims that "such a high-profile resignation is unusual...The Guardian understands that Davey's relationship with Wallace has been uneasy since he replaced [Chris] Huhne".
- It also writes of an "impression of turmoil in the Department" and department "policy fiascos, such as the reversal over subsidies for solar power, which provoked a crisis in the solar panel industry, and strong criticism of proposed reforms to the electricity market, as well as a continuing row with the Treasury over cuts to wind energy subsidies".
His leadership ambitions will want to march in step with the instincts of Conservative MPs; a hundred of them recently signed a letter urging cuts in onshore wind farm subsidies. Mr Davey is fighting his corner for LibDem activists; as a separate piece in the F.T today notes, unless gas plans can "be fitted with still-nascent carbon capturing technology, the UK could miss its climate targets".
As I have pointed out before, the Energy Secretary's own Climate Change Calculator demonstrates that if Britain's energy needs are to be met and emissions reduced - and security of supply buttressed - there is no substitute for a big expansion of nuclear power: shale gas should also have a role to play. Tony Lodge has argued recently on this site that "the priority should now be to deliver the new build of atomic plants and to re-examine a carbon price floor which will prematurely force coal out and encourage a greater reliance on gas than relative prices warrant".