Whilst the issue of UK energy policy elicits many strong – and often countervailing – views, there is one genuine constant, namely the widespread belief in a mixed energy policy. Of course, there are polarising opinions as to whether such a policy should embrace nuclear power.
Aside from the nuclear issue, the broad adoption of market principles, following privatisation some 20 years ago, has been generally beneficial, despite the sharp rise in energy prices of late – due to higher gas input costs.
However, in recent years, the energy market has been adversely impacted by a raft of outside influences – ranging from EU targets to seemingly endless energy subsidies – which have seriously distorted market principles.
To what extent this policy is pursued in the forthcoming Energy White Paper, due to be published very shortly, remains to be seen; its prime aim will be to kick-start new nuclear-build. The reality, though, is that the White Paper is reacting to energy events, mainly in Germany and France. The German Government recently executed a massive U-turn whereby all its nuclear plants are due to close by 2022.
Moreover, RWE, one of German’s two leading energy players, is rumoured to be selling its UK Npower operations. Its participation in the Horizon consortium with E.On to build new nuclear plants in the UK looks doomed.