Posted by: Dr. Breffni Lennon | June 17, 2012

Energy policy and the vagaries of competition, sustainability and security of supply

In 2001, Prof. Dieter Helm presented a paper to the GES Annual Conference in Oxford. Though the lecture is over ten years old it still has as much to say to us today as it did then.

In it, Helm writes…

“According to the 1998 White Paper on Energy Sources (DTI 1998), the government’s energy policy is:

‘to ensure secure, diverse and sustainable supplies of energy at competitive prices’.

It is hard to disagree, although even this confuses means and ends. But as a guide to policy design, it lacks content, and it is incomplete. In fact, governments intervene in energy markets for a whole host of reasons well beyond these objectives, and the forms of intervention are numerous. The objectives are multiple, as are the instruments. The result is inevitably complexity and inconsistency.”

This complexity and inconsistency has only increased in the intervening years.

Dieter Helm’s article can be accessed in full here.


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