Thursday, 6 December 2012

Keeping the lights on

The best bit of news from yesterday?

Chancellor George Osborne has approved the building of over 30 new gas-fired power stations to replace the UK's ageing coal, nuclear and gas stations.

The new capacity could produce up to 26 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2030, a net increase of 5GW.

The plans will dismay environmentalists who want more emphasis placed on lower-carbon, renewable energy sources.

Unfortunately it seems the government haven't given up on wind power, though they do at least seem to be showing some interest in avoiding blackouts:

In a statement announcing the government's new gas generation strategy, Energy Minister Ed Davey said: "Gas will provide a cleaner source of energy than coal, and will ensure we can keep the lights on as increasing amounts of wind and nuclear come online through the 2020s."

There was also a mention of shale gas:

Mr Osborne also announced a consultation on potential tax incentives for shale gas exploration.

I haven't look into the details yet. Ordinarily I can't condone manipulation through the tax system, but it's possible that the proposed change simply mitigates a previous manipulation against the industry.

What the government really needs to do is get out of the energy business, and stop choosing winners. For now, though, at least the central planners are being slightly less stupid.

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