The rising cost of our energy bills is one of the UK’s most heated political debates. Everyone has a view, it seems, but there indeed seems to be very little clarity about what constitutes the “truth” when it comes to correctly attributing the causes.

On the one hand, you have politicians blaming the “Big Six” energy suppliers for, if not colluding on prices, then at least having a “stranglehold” on the market. In contrast, you have other politicians blaming most of the price increases, not on rising wholesale fuel prices across the world, as some claim, but on “green taxes”.

Ofgem, the UK’s gas and electricity market regulator, stated in January (pdf) that “environmental costs” (described as “government programmes to save energy, reduce emissions and tackle climate change”) added 4% and 10% to gas and electricity bills, respectively. But other groups have arrived at much higher percentages, attracting plenty of media coverage in doing so (even if some has since been corrected).

But what about the wider question raised by green taxes: should we as a country, via green taxes and subsidies, be investing now in technologies that help to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and better protect us from future global energy price volatilities? Or should we only concentrate on keeping fuel bills as low as possible today when the financial pressures we face are considerable and immediate?

And if we are to invest in renewable energy for the future, which are the best-bet technologies: wind (offshore vs onshore), tidal, wave, hydro, solar, nuclear, biomass, CCS (carbon capture and storage), or energy efficiency/saving measures? And what of supposedly reduced-carbon energy sources, such as shale gas? Are the current subsidise mechanisms and revenue-raising strategies even the best way to develop such technologies?

Much to discuss, but this column is an experiment in crowd-sourcing a reader’s question, so please let us know your own thoughts below (as opposed to emailing them) and, if quoting figures to support your points, please provide a link to the source. I will also be inviting various interested parties to join the debate, too.

Source: guardian

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