08 June 2010

A Letter from Gwyn Prins to Chris Huhne

In his distinctive style, Professor Gwyn Prins pens a letter to Chirs Huhne, head of the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change, sharing The Hartwell Paper in the current issue of Standpoint. Here is how it starts:

Chris Huhne, isn't it? Congratulations on your appointment to the Department of Energy and Climate Change with its dramatically daunting agenda, starting with the overriding electoral imperative to keep the lights on in a country with an incoherent energy strategy. The figures which stick in my mind are that during January 4-7, with high pressure stable over the country and the highest peak electricity demand in the coldest winter for 30 years, wind power contributed 0.6 per cent to the Grid. The Grid issued only its second-ever Gas Balancing Alert to divert gas to power stations and the coal stations were ramped up to 43 per cent. I witnessed at first hand the South African electricity supply crisis escalate between 2006-08 and you will know soon, if your officials haven't already briefed you, how swiftly and decisively Pretoria batted aside its anti-nuclear and green opponents, advanced its nuclear construction with Chinese help and increased its coal stockpiles.

I don't suppose that on the morning of May 11 you expected to be where you are sitting as you read this? Frankly, my 13 co-authors around the world and I were also taken by surprise. We had not intended either to launch our collective analysis of what to do about the other side of your portfolio on what, thanks to the creation of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, became for other stories (like ours) the worst news day in Britain in decades.
Standpoint also has a distillation of The Harwell Paper, and the full paper is available here in English, German, French, Japanese and Chinese.