Last night Panorama attempted to answer the question what is fuelling rising energy bills, instead viewers were treated to a steady stream of arguments against renewable energy that went more or less unchallenged.
The main thrust of the argument is that renewable energy is ‘eye-wateringly expensive’ and will cause our energy bills to rocket over the next few years. But the programme failed to properly investigate the main cause of increased energy prices, which is the rising cost of gas.
According to most predictions the price of gas will remain high over the next 20 years, so reducing our dependency on this one fuel source is clearly the sensible thing to do and will save us money in the medium term. Yet the one sided view presented on Panorama failed to acknowledge that investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency will provide insurance against these rising fossil fuel prices, by reducing our dependence on these finite and often imported resources.
The programme was particularly misleading when they looked at two case studies; a family who are struggling to keep their home warm and a pottery company in Stoke that relies on gas to fire its kilns. In both cases, it is the spiraling cost of gas that provides them with heat that is causing the problems, rather than policies to promote renewable energy, which concentrate mostly on generating electricity. In the last year alone wholesale gas prices have added around £170 to gas bills, while support for renewable energy added £20 to combined gas and electricity bills.
Some of the arguments made in the programme were based on a report by accountancy firm KPMG which isn’t even finished yet. These arguments included alternatives put forward to solve rising energy bills such as KPMG’s ludicrous suggestion that 10GW of nuclear power will be built by 2020, and the gas-lobbyists’ favorite to increase our reliance on expensive gas.
As a piece of investigative journalism Panorama failed in the basic task of answering the question it posed itself. By relying so heavily on commentators who are openly pursuing an anti-renewable energy agenda, the programme put forward a very one-sided view and thus failed to meaningfully contribute to what is an increasingly important debate.