Department for Energy and Climate Change

There is absolutely no need for an energy shortage in the UK, but the indecision of policy makers is making serious problems over the next few years ever more likely. There is no shortage of supply – but the raw materials of the energy business – such as gas and coal, or for that matter wind – have to be converted into power to produce the electricity which is essential for a complex modern economy. If the power stations are not in place electricity can’t be produced. 

Francis Maude faces a re-assertion of civil service authority. Getty Images

By the end of the week the Department for Energy and Climate Change should have a new permanent secretary. The interviews are on Thursday and the panel, now shorn of inconvenient outsiders such as Lord Stern, will pick a civil servant who will be confirmed immediately.

That might sound bad, but the candidate most likely to be selected is surprisingly strong and a symbol of how seriously the senior civil service takes the department’s problems.

The appointment is a re-assertion of civil service authority and a slap in the face for Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude who wanted to bring in a businessman. Mr Maude and Mr Cameron still owe an apology to David Kennedy, the head of the climate change committee who was selected and then summarily deselected, but the most he is likely to get is a consolatory MBE. (I will elaborate on the future of the committee next week.) 

It’s a dog’s life in DECC – the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Energy sits on the edge between public policy and private investment.  The area is beset by big egos, intensive well funded lobbying, bad behaviour, unpredictable technical change and political uncertainty.

Not surprisingly then that the task of producing a definitive reform of the electricity market is difficult or that DECC’s first draft published in May has not won universal approval.