Showing posts from August, 2018

The Energy Trilemma

An article entitled “Climate rhetoric: What’s an energy trilemma?” seeks to show that the energy trilemma is not a single concept.
SCIENCE, December 23, 2013, available at
It begins with a common use of the term ‘energy trilemma’: a balance between energy security, social impact and environmental sensitivity, viewed as conflicting aspects of energy production. The writer points out that in philosophy, a trilemma is a choice between three unfavourable options, whereas in economics it is a trade-off between three goals, in which two are pursued at the expense of the third. The energy trilemma seems different from either, as resolving it might mean achieving all three goals, within a range accepted by the interested parties. The same trilemma could also be presented as insoluble, if these parties cannot agree. For example, the UK is legally bound to decarbonisation, but energy security is of vital national interest, and ene…

UK decarbonisation targets

The executive summary of a Policy paper entitled “Clean Growth Strategy” issued by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), updated on 16th  April 2018, is available at
The summary refers to targets set by The Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, which committed the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels, through a process of setting 5 year caps on greenhouse gas emissions termed ‘Carbon Budgets’. It reports that since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by 42%.Challenges remain, however: “In order to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets (covering the periods 2023 to 2027 and 2028 to 2032) we will need to drive a significant acceleration in the pace of decarbonisation…” However “Every action that we take to cut emissions must be done while ensuring our economy remains competitive”, and a forthcoming review…

Fuel Poverty in the UK

In order to discuss the relationship between decarbonisation and fuel poverty, information on the definition of fuel poverty and its estimated scale is needed. The data which follow were taken from the
ANNUAL FUEL POVERTY STATISTICS REPORT, 2018 (2016 DATA) Published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and available at
The main body of the report is confined to England, but Annex C has data on the devolved nations. Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator, under which a household is considered to be fuel poor if: 1)        its required fuel costs are above the national median level, and 2)        if it were  to spend that amount, it would be left with a residual income             below the official poverty line. The proportion of households in England in fuel poverty was estimated…

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report

The 6th Report of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee was published on 16 May 2018, and provides context for the question of UK decarbonisation raised in connection with Ofgem’s recent report (see 27th July post). The Audit Committee’s report entitled “Green finance: mobilising investment in clean energy and sustainable development” is available at
In its conclusions and recommendations, the report addresses the challenge of investment: after commenting on progress in reducing the carbon intensity of the UK power sector and investment in clean energy, it notes a warning made in 2016 that “sudden changes to policy had undermined investor confidence and could have an impact on the pipeline of projects in development. Recent figures for cash investment confirm that there has been a dramatic and worrying collapse in clean energy investment since 2015 … the fall in clean energy investment in 2017 is c…

Ofgem and the reduction of greenhouse gases

Ofgem and decarbonisation
Reference was made in the post of 27th July to a recent document from Ofgem, and to a response from Regen, which mentioned decarbonisation and network efficiency. There are relevant statements on Ofgem’s website at
Ofgem describes itself as follows: “We are a non-ministerial government department and an independent National Regulatory Authority ….We are governed by the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA)… Our principal objective when carrying out our functions is to protect the interests of existing and future electricity and gas consumers.” “We recover our costs from the licensed companies we regulate. Licensees must pay an annual licence fee, which is set to cover our costs. We are wholly independent of the companies we regulate.”
In an appendix to an Electricity and Gas Supply Market Report dated 29 September 2010, Ofgem describes its powers and duties (appendix 5, section 1.4,p.19)
"The Authority‘s principal objective is t…