Leo Hickman tweeted a link to this fascinating set of minutes from the September meeting of the DECC Science Advisory Group (SAG). SAG features several familiar names, including John Shepherd, David Mackay, Stuart Haszeldine and David Warrilow.
The whole document is worth a look, and it's only seven pages long. We learn much of what is worrying DECC's scientific advisers, for example the horrific (but presumably distant) prospect of low energy prices:
John Shepherd pointed out that whilst energy efficiency policies are required, they risk being ineffective while energy prices are low. Other SAG members observed that incentives such as a substantial price on carbon were needed to promote innovation and reducing carbon intensity, and it was vital to avoid carbon lock-in.
There is no sign that any of the assembled intellects noted that wind energy locks in the use of gas as a means to provide power when benign (i.e. still) weather conditions prevail.
The discussion also encompassed smart meters:
It was agreed that there is a need for much more work to be done to better understand consumer behaviour both now and with improved controls, as there is high potential for unintended consequences. Even simple devices such as easily and remotely programmable room thermostats (see above) could be very effective. An important innovation would be improving and reducing the costs of heat meters. Experience elsewhere where heat is sold directly (e.g. with district heating schemes) could be helpful. David MacKay expressed his desire to set up a research programme to trial innovations in the area of smart thermostats and heat meters, with the aim of reducing costs.
Your central heating in the hands of the green, the crooked and the incompetent - that's quite a scary prospect. Smart meters will be with us starting at the end of next year.
Leo Hickman is particularly interested in points 7, 8 and 9. Point 9 is extraordinary, apparently showing that Hadley Centre scientific papers are sent to DECC for review before when they are submitted to journals.
The SAG discussed the current requirement for DECC to receive Hadley Centre papers at the point of their submission for publication.
How long this requirement has been in place is anyone's guess, but it is extraordinary.
Update: Perhaps not - they see papers when they are submitted, not before.