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Controversial choice for boss of UK’s energy price review

Renewable power critic is chosen to head energy price review, Government’s preferred choice of Oxford economist Dieter Helm is controversial owing to criticism of wind and solar power, Guardian, Adam Vaughan and Nick Hopkins, 13 Jul 17, An academic who is a vocal critic of the price of renewable power is the government’s preferred choice to head a review of the financial cost of energy in the UK.

Dieter Helm, an economist at the University of Oxford, has been chosen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to carry out the review, the Guardian has learned.

The Conservative manifesto promised that the resulting report would be the first step towards “competitive and affordable energy costs”…..

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “Dieter has a well-known preference for gas and has historically failed to grasp the full potential of renewables.

“At a time when the costs of offshore wind and solar are plummeting this review needs somebody with the vision to grasp the opportunities offered by clean energy to provide jobs, lower bills and slash carbon pollution.”

Other figures believed to have been in the frame for the job included Lord Turner, the former chair of a government advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, who recently told the Guardian that Tory policy on onshore wind power was endangering cheap energy in the UK.

However, concerns that the review might be tilted against renewables could be allayed by Helm’s choice of colleagues to work on the report.Guardian

The Guardian understands that he will be aided by a former boss of the National Grid, Steve Holliday, who is a proponent of decentralised energy including batteries, and Richard Nourse of Greencoat Capital, an investment fund supporting clean energy.

Rounding out the proposed team would be Jim Gao, an engineer at an artificial intelligence company, Deepmind, owned by Google, which has been an enthusiastic supporter of renewables.

The review will look at all aspects of the energy industry and how they contribute to the cost of electricity, such as new technologies includingthe rollout of smart meters in millions of homes and the increasing number of electric cars drawing power from the grid………

Helm is also a strong critic of the cost of nuclear power, saying that just to get to the “starting line” of building a new atomic power station in the UK involves a “lengthy, complex and expensive process”.

He has also questioned whether any more new nuclear power plants will be built in the UK after Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which the public spending watchdog recently described as a “risky and expensive project”.

The new energy minister, Richard Harrington, has said the government is still committed to a new generation of nuclear power stations but Helm’s review could provide a justification for abandoning that ambition on cost grounds…… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/renewable-power-energy-costs-review-dieter-helm

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July 15, 2017 - Posted by | ENERGY, UK

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