Author Archives: mervynkohler

Tackling excess winter deaths and fuel poverty

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This time last year, the Excess Winter Deaths statistics showed an enormous jump to over 40,000 for the previous winter.    This year, the number returned to its trend line, at 24,300 (including 20,800 amongst the over 65s) in England and Wales during the winter of 2015/16.   But if this lower figure is ‘normal’, it is still a disgraceful situation. Continue reading

Disruptive change ahead in the way we buy and use energy

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In the spring, Ofgem announced its Insight for Future Regulation project, and has now produced the first paper of a series:  first Future Insights discussion paper. It sets out some of the dramatic changes in the way we use and buy energy which might come about in the next five or ten years.

First, a health warning – past predictions are not a firm guide to the future, though they are the best we have got.  Between December 2012 and March 2016, the number of active gas or electricity suppliers in the domestic market doubled from 20 to 43. Forecasts by the (then) Department of Trade and Industry in 2000 for electricity demand in 2015 turned out to be 20% too high – our appliances are much more efficient than anticipated. Continue reading

The future is electrifying

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Two thirds of our current electricity generating plants will be decommissioned by 2030.   In the next fifteen years, they will need to be replaced with a mixture of new power stations and by generating more energy from renewable resources – primarily wind and solar, and tidal might also have a place. On top of that, we will need more electricity as we proceed with the electrification of heating and transport – some predictions suggest that we should eventually be planning for a seven-fold increase in electricity generation capacity.    Continue reading

Supporting Safe Driving into Older Age

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This report from the Road Safety Foundation was recently published after a comprehensive two-year research project. Its findings are objectively based, and its recommendations are constructive. Above all, it takes the line that for many older people, driving is a key to their remaining socially active and engaged, and we must sustain that, and reject any wild accusations that older drivers are inherently a menace. Continue reading