Last Wednesday, Energy Secretary and MP for Hastings & Rye spoke at a conference that was discussing offshore wind power. Ms Rudd warned delegates that subsidies for offshore wind will need to be “progressively reduced” in order to keep the public on board with the UK’s decarbonisation goals. She praised the progress the technology has made in the last 15 years, but warned “there is no bottomless pit of bill payer support for low carbon” and that “Government support must help technologies eventually stand on their own two feet, not to encourage a permanent reliance on subsidy. Cost must come down, subsidies must be progressively reduced. Because only by keeping costs down will we maintain public support for the action we are taking to bring down carbon emissions and combat climate change.”
I am no expert on the comparative subsidies of various fuel sources, but my understanding is that nuclear power is destined to receive public subsidies throughout the life of its provision of electrical power to you and I and beyond into the Centuries through which the nuclear waste will need to be managed. My own view is that our willingness to support the supply of any sort of energy through subsidy is a matter of both economics and also the impact on the environment. Some people like me admire the sight of large wind farms, and others despise these. I have yet to meet anyone who would promote the idea of a nuclear power plant on their doorstep, or would choose to have nuclear waste stored under their garden. However unlike Ms Rudd I believe that most of us understand that combatting climate change and reducing carbon emissions is vital. I don’t think we need further encouragement through the reduction of costs. Indeed I suspect that many of us know deep down that it will cost dearly to achieve such objectives. Perhaps it is time we explain that to Amber. If she wants to discuss subsidies, lets do it on a basis that compares various types of energy production without a bias, and lets look at the lifetime costs of the various technologies. Off course our views about the visual impact must also be considered, but the Conservative Party and Amber Rudd already have form when it comes to disapproving of certain types of low carbon fuel production!