Dieter Helm to lead cost of energy review

Professor Dieter Helm has been appointed to lead the cost of energy review promised in the Conservative manifesto and Industrial Strategy, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced.

Helm, who last year called on Clark to “reset the balance between the market and the state”, will be joined by a panel of experts including former National Grid executive director Nick Winser and former Conservative MP Laura Sandys.

He has been asked to review the entire electricity supply chain of generation, transmission, distribution and supply, in light of the Government’s ambition to have the lowest energy costs in Europe.

Helm, who has previously criticised the cost of renewable power, claimed in a recent paper that “intervention on energy tariffs is needed.” His appointment follows the news last week that British Gas is hiking its electricity prices by 12.5%.

The cost of energy review, which reports back in October, will consider the implications of the changing demand for electricity, including the role of technologies such as electric vehicles, storage, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Clark said: “The review will consider how we can take advantage of changes to our power system and new technologies to ensure clean, secure and affordable supplies over the coming decades. Professor Helm will bring invaluable expertise to the review, and I look forward to seeing his recommendations.”

Professor Helm said: “My review will be independent and sort out the facts from the myths about the cost of energy, and make recommendations about how to more effectively achieve the overall objectives.”

The full panel, chaired by Helm, will include: Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation; Nick Winser, now chairman of the Energy Systems Catapult; Laura Sandys, now chief executive of Challenging Ideas; Isobel Sheldon, engineering & technology director of Johnson Matthey Battery Systems; and Richard Nourse, managing partner of Greencoat Capital LLP.

Last September, Helm called on Clark to develop a comprehensive energy policy, saying: “The current state of the energy sector is sufficiently serious to merit rapid action. He cannot engage in the luxury of reviews and reports. He needs to act.”

Industry response

Energy UK chief executive Lawrence Slade said: “We welcome greater transparency over the cost of energy as we transition to a smarter, more flexible, digital and decarbonised energy system which puts consumers and industry in greater control of their energy.

“We must ensure we deliver an Industrial Strategy based on a low carbon economy and where the billions of investment needed can be delivered competitively via a range of technologies at the lowest cost to consumers.  Using our energy as smartly as possible is critical so energy efficiency must be a national infrastructure priority.”

Neil Carberry, CBI managing director for people and infrastructure, said: “Competitive energy prices are an important part of a meaningful industrial strategy. The CBI looks forward to working with the review to ensure any recommendations support continued business investment and innovation in a secure, flexible and low-carbon energy supply, together with efforts to improve energy efficiency.”

Ellen Bennett

This article first appeared on edie’s sister publication, Utility Week

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie