The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. \”Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,\” he said. \”The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.\”
No, short term bounces around in the price of oil, just as with any other commodity, do not justify a £200 billion investment in the energy infrastructure we\’re going to be using for the next 30 years.
Long term decisions need to be taken on the basis of long term factors, not short term ones.
Hey, I\’m even willing to agree that moving away from oil is a pretty good idea. But to what is the interesting question.
To say that something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do this is not the way we\’d like policy to be decided though.
There are two major factors, long term ones, which you seem to be missing. The first is shale gas. This looks like it\’s going to dramatically lower the cost of natural gas for the next few decades. Natural gas plants last a few decades…..so perhaps we should be sticking up natural gas plants to take advantage of this newly cheaper fuel.
In the longer term solar PV is falling in price. Something like 20% a year actually, and there\’s one more generation of technology on the way, multi-junction cells (boasting efficiencies of up to 40%). While predictions, especially about the future, are very difficult, it\’s a generally accepted result in the alternative energy field that solar PV is between 5 and 15 years away from being generally grid comparable in price.
Please note that this is nothing to do with our own Renewables Obligations, Feed in Tarrifs or anything else. The vast investments being made by China (and to a lesser extent, Germany) into this technology entirely dwarf anything that we are doing.
Thus a rational approach to weaning ourselves off oil could be to dash for gas once again: then, as solar PV becomes economic, people will naturally install it all by their very selves.
All done without subsidy, without doubling or tripling fuel bills, just the natural application of economics: the allocation of scarce resources via the price mechanism.