Editorial: The Old Rock 23.10.09

The decision by the European Commission to start asking questions of the UK’s electricity transmission charging regime is welcome. Whether one agrees with the proposed Viking Energy windfarm or not, it is evidently invidious that the current system, so to speak, penalises peripheral areas that have powerful natural energy sources. Given transmission losses, there is a logic to this.

But the government cannot have its cake and eat it; it cannot seek rapid expansion in renewables provision in an effort to meet targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions while making it prohibitively expensive to send the electricity thus generated to National Grid. In any case, prima facie, the current charging regime contravenes commission rules.

Those who argue that reform will entail further public subsidy entirely miss the point. Britain’s – and most other countries’ – electricity supply is riddled with subsidies, cross-subsidies and hidden subsidies. The electricity market simply does not conform to the prejudices of market fundamentalists.

But why is this important? If there is a consensus about the Viking windfarm it is surely that as currently constituted it is far too big. With a more favourable regime in place the possibility of a much more moderately-sized windfarm opens up. We will watch developments with interest.

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Men constituo recedentia magis problems per contemno, diligo lust, saevio, moestitia, tripudium, spes, vereor illusion, vel nonnullus alius penitus affectus, quam per animadverto, auctorita, ullus forensis vexillum judicial preeo, vel lex legis. Cicero.


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