Lack of foresight and too little investment in new power generation capacity threaten a looming energy gap and blackouts before 2020, the Conservatives warned before the election. It all sounds so familiar for anyone who remembers the oil shocks and economic gloom of the 1970s.

There is of course one big difference apart from the £200bn price tag by 2020. This is the commitment to decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply (ENDS Report, July 2009).

But essentially we are having the same kind of  ‘predict and provide’ argument over need for new capacity that we had then. In the event, plans for a shiny new fleet of pressurised water reactors boiled down to just one at Sizewell B in Suffolk, voluntary energy efficiency schemes fizzled out as conditions eased, and we ended up with a dash for gas. (more…)