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Dieter Helm on "misguided" Huhne, Davey and Miliband

Dieter Helm recently gave a lecture on energy policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, discussing the sheer scale of the disaster wrought by Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey. Here's the blurb.

The falls in oil, gas and coal prices have confounded the peak oil advocates and the predictions of both ever higher prices and price volatility on which much of current energy policy is based.

Wholesale electricity prices are not going up as DECC predicted. They have been going down.

The existing renewables will now need permanent subsidies and nuclear has been adversely affected.

Carbon and energy policies will need to be recast. Disruptive new technologies are further undermining the “winners” politicians have been picking.

The lecture will set out the new key features of the new energy landscape, and the implications for energy policy in the UK and Europe, and the implications for the structure and competitiveness of the energy companies.

It will include recommendations for the reform of EMR, the UK Government's Energy Market policy and the key components of the EU’s Energy Union.

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Reader Comments (19)

Despite being proven over and over, that free market capitalism is best at picking winners and losers to the benefit of consumers, politicians cannot stop second guessing and interfering with the natural process. Are they that stupid, or that nefarious?

Dec 7, 2015 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

People like Dieter Helm and Ian Fells have been proven right time after time. Ministers in the shape of Miliband, Huhne and Davey (plus about a dozen ministers before them) have ignored all engineering advice and gone for the worst possible options as recommended by the Greenblob (think the Sustainable Development Commission and Jonathon Porritt) and the troughers.

Dec 7, 2015 at 3:54 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The problem has been the politicians competing for the votes perceived as "green", sometimes rising as high as maybe ~10% during good economic times when people can afford existential angst. Times change.

Their agents sounding in Paris are squealing like stuck-pigs now they are beginning to realise that very few voters can get what they want. They have had their day in the political sun as a novelty market-segment. It is time for them to start wanting what they can get.

Dec 7, 2015 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Does he not want a carbon tax?

Dec 7, 2015 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Just follow the Money.
They all have their hands in "Climate" related businesses or their families have.

Dec 7, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

For every force in nature, physics and economics, there is an unequal and inadequate pack of idiots seeking to oppose.

Nobody can yet explain the vagaries of our ever changing climate, but still the idiots pronounce the solution.

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The free market wins yet again. When will politicians learn?

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

Chris Huhne is about as 'misguided' as Kim Jong Un.

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

>> Are they that stupid, or that nefarious?

As Instapundit puts it - insufficient opportunity for graft.

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM


I'd have liked to ask if central government should decide on how much capacity it wants AND where it wants that capacity built (i.e. no more windmills on Rockall), or does he imply that it would be up to the bidder to deliver capacity to a certain grid point and that the transmission costs lie with the developer?

Dec 7, 2015 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

He well describes the failures of past forecasts based on failed dogmata including the club of Rome limits to growth & overpopulation angst, the peak oilers and the 'irrational exuberance' of the markets; financial collapse and bubbles economies - and all this based on economic models that had wrongness built-in. Somehow though criticism of the apocalyptic predictions of climate science are off limits despite the long history of previous failed enviro predictions and the models they are based on. He even managed to identify the fact that people routinely tweak their models to achieve the result that they want. The idea that we are going to 'fry' is obvious hyperbole but nevertheless utterly stupid in the context of these admissions about simplistic model-based predictions.

So just how can this same person, who easily identifies those human failings of deep confirmation bias among self-styled experts, be so obtuse to believe that a bunch of climate scientists, who have collectively been 100% wrong about everything thus far and cannot even agree on the excuses as to why they were wrong are somehow still to be trusted when all other 'experts' in all other disciplines have failed with rather simpler issues than the world climate? What kind of psychological process is involved in this wilful blindness?

As for his idea of a market that naturally builds in carbon limits - well fine ( though that's what brought the modern, efficient diesel engines fro small cars, which supposedly brought a Nox emission problem) but we are committed to 80% reduction. There is no concept now or in the near future that can achieve this beyond widespread nuclear (NOT NUQULAR) power. French electricity bills say the juice came from 83% nuclear, 15% hydro with about 1% only from fossil fuels. So we already know this target is achievable but not by market forces. Yes nuclear power has a never ending stream of safety inspectors that ratchet up the costs to meet an unrealistic ALARP policy. But this daft policy too can only be tackled by governments. Energy companies would have to be loony to risk anything on nuclear power with such a record of costly statist interference so it cannot happen in the 'free' market. Coal is being outlawed here so that just leaves gas and for gas we need CCS to meet any targets: Again something that will surely ratchet up bills! So he already knows that those savings from cheaper fossil fuels cannot be passed on to the customer if carbon targets are maintained. He just ignored that obvious truth!

By now surely even to the dimmest bulb it must be obvious that by far the most sensible policy is to undergo an engineering level 3rd party review of the IPCC science to find out by just how much the cure is worse than the putative disease!

Dec 7, 2015 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The UK's climate chiefs named above were always either delusional or something worse.

And Iran will be along shortly with its own vast supplies of oil and gas for sale.

Dec 7, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldbrew

Dieter does not understand transformation losses.
His electric future is a finance capitalist dream and our nightmare.

Nothing stopping Oceania coal from heating our home though.
Except for those carbon taxes of course.

Dec 7, 2015 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork


Yes nuclear power has a never ending stream of safety inspectors that ratchet up the costs to meet an unrealistic ALARP policy.
I've started examining SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) for application in the UK. As a contact says "The biggest issue is going to be licensing, particularly when you have an authority that wants you to put in expensive active back-ups to your cheaper, safer, passive systems". Therein lies the problem, just as you say.

Dec 7, 2015 at 7:53 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

He does not seem to understand that the price is a finance capital illusion.
It is how the energy is used that is important.
Oil is not currently used to engage with production / consumption , it is wasted on distribution.
Ireland will again reach 43 % of total TFC on transport this year (it last reached this in 2007)
75 % of diesel consumption goes on transport.
Just 6% of diesel does to agriculture and 1% on fishing (2013)
Since then diesel use has risen from 43kbd to 53 kbd.
This is the illusion of capitalistic efficiency , the goods are produced on a mass scale but the distribution costs make the goods in unaffordable , goods must therefore be exported but world markets are drying up.
He mentions 1914 but I fear he does not understand.
Again back then more and more energy was being redirected towards world trade rather then domestic consumption.
Coal for the white star line etc etc.

The diesel needs to be consumed on small farms in the west of Ireland again.
Those 30 to 50 acre farms with the small Ferguson tractor.
They were wiped out during the EU agri scheme programme.
Much of lowland south Kerry is under a 30year scrub layer of Rhodo and Sally as a consequence.
The industrial agricultural surplus created by those new 200acre ranches in the 80s could not be offloaded in Europe.
Libya ,Egypt Iraq were buyers......... these markets are not the same shape as they were in the 80s.
Production/ consumption needs to become more local.

Dec 7, 2015 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

I am amazed that the IET is changing its tune enough to entertain someone who criticises Miliband, Huhne and Davey. Its stance, at least up to 2012, was a thoroughgoing captive of the CAGW scam. The first sentence in their Energy Key Topics stated "The huge challenge for energy policy is to enable energy supply to be secure, low carbon and affordable."

I resigned from the IET over this issue in 2012 writing to them suggesting that whilst individual members of the IET could take any view they chose, I believed the Institution was, at best, unwise, and at worst had succumbed to a pseudoscientific scam in seeking to promote a theory like CAGW as though it was incontrovertible.

Dec 7, 2015 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

I found his talk helpful on two counts:
1 He criticised Miliband, Huhne and Davey for their hopeless and misguided energy policies;
2 No one could claim he was a "denier".

He thus provides some cover as the government reduces subsidies for existing renewable technologies.

The auction idea for the supply of "firm power" is interesting, even in its two stage version, because the government has already stated that the priority is to keep the lights on.

Dec 8, 2015 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

...renationalise and build nuclear...simple

Dec 8, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

The current dip in energy prices seems to be nothing more than the oil cartel dumping product to discourage expansion of energy independence through fraking. If they are successful at convincing frakers to give up or accept long term losses you can be sure the price of crude will quickly be restored to previously inflated levels.

Dec 8, 2015 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdp

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