Energy policy was thrust into the centre of the political debate with the Labour Party’s promise to freeze energy bills if it wins the next General Election.
Earlier this year the National Grid warned the margin of spare capacity over the coming winter, and that of 2015/2016, would fall to its lowest level for generations, at less than 5%.
And at the same time Governments across the world are under pressure to cut carbon emissions by favouring renewables instead of fossil fuels.
Balancing these three elements is known as the energy trilemma and audience member Barbara Vest, the director of generation at Energy UK asked the panellists to identify which of the three they deemed most important.
James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, highlighted security. “There is little point in having cheap and low carbon electricity if we haven’t any power, and the lights go out.
“If we fail to hit our carbon reduction targets and household bills continue to rise then people will complain, but there will be riots on the street if the lights go out.”
Liam Carr, Labour Party candidate for Hexham, accused Wharton of ‘scaremongering’ saying such claims are ‘stupid’, and went on to say the most pressing issue facing households is affordability.
“Energy bills are too high and the next Labour Government will freeze bills until 2017,” he said.
To the mind of Jonathan Elmer, Green Party activist, there is no trilemma or even dilemma. “We need all three, and they all complement each other.