Cheaper energy is not the solution

Dear Editor,

In December Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, set out a number of proposals for providing ‘lower-carbon electricity at lower cost than under present policies’. No one in their right mind would argue for higher-carbon forms of energy, but is he right to focus on lowering the cost?

Cheap energy, like cheap food, comes at a price. We should be using the tax system to drive up the cost of wasted energy and encourage not just energy-saving but energy efficiency in the fairest way possible. When energy prices are high, people are both more careful and more disciplined about how they use it.

Greater use of controls and metering can supply part of the discipline, as can the expertise from lighting designers – but only if designers are free to do their jobs without restrictions.

We have been too lax on energy for too long but there is also a tendency to micro-manage in areas such as the Building Regulations. Surely

this government above all should recognise the value of applying market pressure through pricing while applying a light touch to regulation.

Yours faithfully,
Mark Sutton Vane
Sutton Vane Associates

Tulips or people?

Dear Editor,
I just flew into Amsterdam airport at 5am and noticed an amazing number of small, bright sodium light patches on the clouds at relatively low level. It struck me that these are above the fields of poly-tunnels where flowers are grown. Apart from the light pollution aspect, is this really a sensible use of energy?

Tackling the technology

Dear Editor,
A funny thing happened to me the other day. I was on the phone to a contractor who was not too pleased that the LED sources he was installing did not appear to work. Not being the kind of company to let this be an issue, we rushed to site to find he had cut the fitting in half to make it fit into the recess.