Call for gas to meet emissions targets

Economist, Professor Dieter Helm CBE, told MPs yesterday (January 25) that new gas stations need to be built to meet emissions targets in the electricity sector.

The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee held a question session on the proposed electricity market reform.

A panel of experts were consulted at the session including Professor Dieter Helm CBE from the University of Oxford.

Professor Helm, a specialist in utilities, infrastructure, regulation and the environment, said reform was necessary regardless of government objectives but to aim to reach the 2020 and 2030 emissions targets using only renewable energy was “absurd”.

In his view, the only country in Europe that has a chance of reaching these targets is France, due to their government subsidised nuclear programme.

Professor Helm said that consumers would face sharply rising bills by 2015 to meet the costs of renewable energy unless a plan of action was begun to avoid this.

He said that there would need to be a reliance on a mix of energy sources: gas, nuclear and smart grid and renewables.

Gas he said was less polluting than coal and has become more secure in recent times. Putting gas back into the energy plan would give a temporary breather to get to grips with climate change policies.

He called for an agency with the right skills and expertise to be set up to implement the policy as he believes this does not currently exist in the electricity sector or government.

Alison Brown

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