NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Britain's Energy Policy Is in Crisis

September 23, 2010

Take the government's proposed Renewable Heat Incentive, the costs of which could, by 2030, outweigh its benefits by as much as £13 billion ($20 billion).

  • The hope is that by 2020, Britain will have installed two million "heat pumps" to extract warmth from the air and soil.
  • But a taxpayer-funded study by the Energy Saving Trust found that, of 83 air-sourced systems already installed at up to £20,000 each ($31,000), only one was efficient enough to qualify as "renewable energy."

Equally questionable is Britain's enthusiasm for solar panels:  Last year, solar's contribution to the grid averaged 2.3 megawatts -- so minuscule that it was barely a 1,000th of the output of one large coal-fired power station, says Booker.

Two years ago, the British Parliament voted all but unanimously for the Climate Change Act, which commits Britain, uniquely in the world, to cutting its CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050.  This will cost up to £18 billion (about $28 billion) a year, or £734 billion (about $1.1 trillion) in total.

But, of course, none of this will have any impact on reducing overall CO2 emissions.  Britain contributes less than 2 percent to the global total, while China's emissions alone increase by more than that every year, says Booker.

Source: Christopher Booker, "Britain's Energy Policy Is in Crisis," Guardian (UK), September 18, 2010.

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