The Great Debate UK
– Alexander Smith is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –
Britain’s new coalition government wants to cut the country’s carbon footprint as well as its colossal deficit. But the alliance’s more ambitious green policies sound expensive — especially for an administration whose priority is fiscal discipline. Private sector involvement will be critical. And investors may take some convincing.
UK energy regulator Ofgem predicts that up to 200 billion pounds of investment is needed over the next 10 years in new infrastructure to maintain secure supplies and meet climate change targets.
Many of the new government’s ideas are recycled hand-me-downs from the former administration. The roll-out of smart electricity meters had already been put in train by the former Labour government. A smart grid, which allows users with, say, solar panels to sell electricity back in, is a logical next step. Both will probably need heavy taxpayer subsidy to encourage consumer take-up.