United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Summer school for the boss

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When it comes to renewables, the ever widening gulf between the aspirations of politicians on the one hand, and the mind-set of the electricity industry on the other, is demonstrated with horrifying clarity in the latest issue of Electricity UK, the magazine of the UK Electricity Association (EA). While energy minister John Battle focuses strongly on renewables in his "Energy and Government" column, and even the EA's Brussels representative acknowledges that "substantial progress" was made on promotion of renewables during the UK's presidency of the EU in the first half of the year, neither the magazine's leading article, nor its lengthy report on the energy policy debate, mention the "R" word. And this despite a three page feature series under the theme "protecting the environment." Electricity UK's July issue also makes much of the new freedom of domestic customers to "switch suppliers" in several articles, including one headlined "Switching on to choice" by electricity regulator Stephen Littlechild. Nowhere, however, is there any discussion, or acknowledgement, of the fact that thousands of customers want to switch to green power. Indeed, the arrival of green power suppliers and the market impact of this development is totally ignored by Electricity UK. It would seem that an enforced summer school teach-in on renewables for the bosses of the UK electricity sector would not go amiss. We suggest that Denmark would be a good venue -- lots of wind turbines to fire the imagination and not much sunshine to detract them from their studies.

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