New part-time energy minister and 2012 energy statistics

Michael Fallon is to replace John Hayes as a minister at DECC by adding the energy brief to his ministerial role at BIS. This has largely been welcomed by the industry, which has praised the “joined up approach”. However, Labour has described the decision as creating a “part-time energy minister”.

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint claims the decision shows the government’s priorities are not on energy policy. She said: “In the next decade Britain needs to attract over £100 billion of investment to keep the lights on. But David Cameron appears to think that keeping tabs on his unruly Tory backbenchers is more important than the country’s energy policy.”

Fallon’s predecessor was criticised by green activists for his views on wind farms, but Fallon may be even worse. Last year he questioned whether “specific targets, for example on…climate change, are the best way of focusing our spending where it is most needed“.

Meanwhile, DECC has published the latest energy statistics for the last quarter of 2012 and therefore provisional data for the year. The key points from 2012 are:

Total energy production was 10½ per cent lower than in 2011, due to the significant falls in oil and gas production as a result of maintenance activity, as well as longer-term decline on the UK Continental Shelf.

Imports in 2012 were at a record high, with exports at their lowest level since 1989. Net import dependency rose to 43 per cent, the highest level since 1976.

Total primary energy consumption for energy uses rose by 2½ per cent from 2011. When adjusted to take account of weather differences between 2011 and 2012, primary consumption fell by under ½ per cent. Final energy consumption was 2 per cent higher than in 2011.

Of electricity generated in 2012, coal accounted for 39½ per cent (an increase of 9 percentage points on 2011) and gas 27½ per cent (a decrease of 13 percentage points on 2011), mainly due to high gas prices.

Renewables’ share of generation increased by 2 percentage points on 2011 to a record 11½ per cent.

Average annual household standard electricity bills (fixed consumption of 3,300 kWh per annum) across all payment types in 2012 are £26 higher than in 2011 (up 5.7 per cent to £479), and average gas bills (fixed consumption of 18,000 kWh per annum) across all payment types are £81 higher (up 11.3 per cent to £800).

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