The Oxford academic who will conduct a wide-ranging independent review of Britain’s energy costs will spend only 30 days on the project. Dieter Helm has been given until the end of October to advise the government on how it can keep electricity costs as low as possible while hitting climate targets and ensuring security of supply. Ministers said that the economist would consider “the whole electricity supply chain – generation, transmission, distribution and supply”. Despite the wide scope of his brief, Professor Helm will be paid for only 30 days work, less than half of the working days between now and his deadline. He will be paid £500 a day, the business department said. Five industry figures who will provide “expert insights in a personal capacity” will not be paid. Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “It is quite hard to see what Dieter Helm can say that hasn’t been said before. Select committees have gone into this issue, so has the committee on climate change, and their reports are by their very nature weightier exercises than a short review by a single academic, however decorated.” Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said that he expected the review to “draw on existing sources of evidence rather than creating new analysis” and questioned why it would differ from studies by the CCC, the government’s official adviser on the most cost-effective way to hit emissions targets. Professor Helm has already written widely on the energy industry and has criticised renewable energy costs. Some issues on which he appears to be at odds with the government have been excluded from the review, such as the £11 billion smart meter rollout, which suppliers have blamed for rising bills.
Times 8th Aug 2017 read more »
Professor Dieter Helm has been appointed to lead the cost of energy review promised in the Conservative manifesto and Industrial Strategy, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced. Helm, who last year called on Clark to “reset the balance between the market and the state”, will be joined by a panel of experts including former National Grid executive director Nick Winser and former Conservative MP Laura Sandys. He has been asked to review the entire electricity supply chain of generation, transmission, distribution and supply, in light of the Government’s ambition to have the lowest energy costs in Europe. Helm, who has previously criticised the cost of renewable power, claimed in a recent paper that “intervention on energy tariffs is needed.” His appointment follows the news last week that British Gas is hiking its electricity prices by 12.5%. The cost of energy review, which reports back in October, will consider the implications of the changing demand for electricity, including the role of technologies such as electric vehicles, storage, robotics and artificial intelligence.
Edie 7th Aug 2017 read more »
The review prompted a mixed response from business groups and environmental campaigners, with some welcoming the opportunity to make the case for cost-savings that will be delivered by clean technologies and others concerned about Helm’s track record of advocating for more gas capacity in the energy mix. Industry insiders also voiced fears the review had originally been conceived by former Number 10 joint chief of staff Nick Timothy as a means of supporting his previous argument that UK decarbonisation policies were undermining competitiveness. “This review has been the one thing that has been keeping me up at night,” said one industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It originally felt like a ‘let’s overturn the Climate Change Act’ job… But a lot has changed in the past few months. The market is on the side of renewables and it is starting to shift perceptions.” “The pragmatic line now has a lot of renewables in it, not because they are green but because they are cheap,” they added. Industry insiders said many of the experts on the panel were long-standing supporters of decarbonisation and clean technologies, while also noting that Helm himself recognised the huge opportunity to transform the power system through smart grid technologies, electric vehicles, and solar and battery systems. Writing on Twitter, Greenpeace’s Doug Parr argued the terms of the review were too narrow and should be extended to take a wider look at the cost of energy, including the need to decarbonise the heating system. “The treatment of heat looks very cursory,” he wrote. “How we decarbonise is seriously difficult question and whether through heat pumps, CHP, power-to-gas or a mixture it will have profound effects of the power system. Without thinking through the heat side this Review will be at best short-term, at worst taking us down wrong route.” A government source said the main focus of the review was on power as that is where costs are least competitive. Meanwhile, Labour Shadow Business and Energy Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey criticised the government for taking too long to address rising household energy prices.
Business Green 7th Aug 2017 read more »