The climate change minister argues that the free market can deliver green energy—is he guilty of wishful thinking?by Jay Elwes / December 11, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
“Solar power—the costs have dramatically fallen, far faster than anyone has speculated,” says Ed Davey. “It’s probably one of the greatest steps forward in human history.” Davey claims that solar could still make a significant contribution to Britain’s energy needs, despite the meagre sunlight of the winter months.
Speaking to Prospect, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change says that “in the UK, people are talking about getting towards ‘grid parity’ either by the end of this decade or next decade”—the point when a unit of solar energy would cost the same or less than a unit of energy bought from the national grid.
Davey’s enthusiasm for solar suggests that the Energy Secretary hopes the plummeting prices of the technology will lead to that grail of energy policy—clean electricity that still does not cost more than that from conventional power stations burning gas or coal. But those hopes have confounded others before him—and lured governments into subsidising technologies that have failed to deliver their promise. Critics suggest that the new passion for solar is a distraction.
Energy policy is one of the most politically tricky portfolios to hold. On one hand, it appears irresistible for politicians…