UK Has New Energy Minister


". . .dependence on fossil fuel would be folly."

Following the May election, the UK now has a new Energy Minister: Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne. On the 24 June 2010, Huhne gave a speech to the Economist UK Energy Summit.

Did he address the energy deficit the same way Chancellor George Osborne addressed the fiscal deficit in his emergency budget earlier in the week? Economic recovery, energy security and climate stabilization were identified as the key challenges, saying ". . .dependence on fossil fuel would be folly. It would make us vulnerable to oil price spikes and volatility." He called for a decarbonized economy; after stressing the urgency and seriousness of climate change, Huhne addressed energy security. "It is vital we make the most of our domestic oil and gas assets. . ." indicating at least 20 billion barrels oil equivalent (BOE) remain in UK waters, and emphasizing continued exploration investment. His primary objectives [appear] mutually exclusive—delivering growth through decarbonizing and addressing climate change while continuing to explore for new fossil fuel resources.

Energy investment of £200 bn was projected over the next decade, largely to replace existing assets. On new nuclear, Huhne stressed it will go ahead—but only if it can do so without public subsidy. Regardless, it will be late with respect to the decommissioning schedule of the existing fleet of nuclear power stations.

Efficiency was described as the fourth energy resource—the cheapest way of closing the energy gap between demand and supply. Smart meters and grids received a nod but he focused mainly on the existing, aged housing stock. ". . .we used more energy heating our homes than Sweden, where average January temperatures are 7⁰ Celsius lower than ours." Huhne's talking about insulating millions of homes. "The era of cheap energy is over. . .tomorrow's energy bills will undoubtedly be higher."

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