Meeting the Minister
I met my first Minister today. One of the fun things about becoming Director of the Cabot Institute has been the range of people I've been able to meet; some senior and some not so senior. The Minister in question was Charles Hendry MP, the Minister of State for Energy who was in Bristol today to be at the launch of the joint Bristol and Oxford Nuclear Research Centre. However, I actually met him at a meeting about the future of renewable energy being organised by Regen SW. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was half anticipating someone being tightly managed by protective civil servants. In fact he spent a lot of time talking and listening to representatives from the renewables sector, and seemed to be well on top of the brief.
The interesting part of the discussion for me was the feeling among the renewables sector that sections of the press currently paint these forms of energy as expensive compared to the alternatives. Last night's Panorama programme is a case in point. Whilst its not my personal field of research, I suspect the devil is in the detail with regard to the accounting assumptions that you make: subtle (and likely unstated) choices can probably make a big difference to whether a particular energy source seems economic or not. There's a case to be made here for rationality and a robust look at the evidence, although as an academic you'd probably expect me to say this!