You can choose smart or stupid ways to go green, and going nuclear is one of the stupider ways. There are much smarter ways to do it. If you do it in smarter ways, then you can argue about whether the investment is a subsidy or an investment. You can argue about how much of the investment should be private, and how much should be public. It seems to me that Biden understands that if you don’t invest then you won’t get anywhere. What is clearly happening now, is that the world is on a trajectory of getting rid of carbon from its energy system, and that requires investment.
The reason that we have computers right now, is because the American government subsidised the whole development of that technology, through a thing called DARPA, for defence reasons. It took them through the bottom end of that development and learning cycle and then it took off. This is why we now have phones and computers that twenty years ago we didn’t have. That is all the product of investment. When you invest at the beginning it is always expensive, and the private sector doesn’t do that investment, the government always does that investment. Because of investment, it is now cheaper to install renewables to provide your electricity, anywhere in the world, than it is to install any type of fossil fuel.
It is absolutely true that energy security is a priority, the best and smartest way to drive our energy bills down is to stop our houses, and our buildings, from leaking as much energy as they do. Without stopping our buildings from leaking, it is like running water into a bathtub that you haven’t put the plug into, which is dumb, so let’s put the bath plug in first. The next thing you need is energy that is affordable and secure, and that is exactly what you are going to get from renewables, provided that you create the right market conditions, and our market prices everything at the price of gas. The next thing is that you have got to invest in storage.
The cost of batteries has gone through the floor, in the same way as renewables have, and for exactly the same reason: because governments have started the ball rolling on investment, and then markets have picked it up and rolled it forward. One problem we have, which is very irritating, is that we are paying people to switch off renewables at night, because we can’t store the energy. Instead of switching that energy supply off, you could use it to make hydrogen, and providing you can store it, it can solve the energy security issue. The main problem that we have is that there is no consistency, at all, in government, and what investors require, above all, is consistency.