I could not make a speech in the recent Energy Bill debate as it was oversubscribed, and given that I speak so often in the House the Speaker fairly decided to call others to speak instead. The many questions and debates which the Bill has sparked are really interesting - and it is vital we get the right answers:
- Is there too much, or too little, focus on renewables?
- Is coal a thing of the past or a legitimate future option?
- Can carbon capture change the energy equation?
- Are we right to rely on gas in the short term?
- What is the future of newer renewables like tidal power?
- How much can and should we rely upon Nuclear power?
- Should the state continue to subsidise commercial biomass on domestic timber?
- What chance is there that the lights will go out by 2018?
Having looked at the evidence I myself am a big supporter of shale gas and have spoken repeatedly in support of it in the House of Commons. It has not just brought down domestic energy prices but it has genuinely changed the industrial prospects of the USA; this new cheaper energy is one of the biggest reason why the US has been able to remain competitive.
I believe the latest Energy Bill contains a good blend of short term resolution of our energy needs, with a correct desire to continue decarbonise over time. I am a committed environmentalist but this Energy Bill of Ed Davey's does, I believe, create a healthy balance. The Chancellor has also recently made it easier for business to put shale gas into that mix which I believe will help even further.