Keep the lights on Mr Davey


The latest gloomy review tells us that there is now too little spare capacity in our electricity generating system. The Energy Secretary tells businesses to prepare for reductions in supply, and suggests a system of offering them payments to avoid using electricity at times of stress in the system. This is not rationing, we are told. More accurately it is the acceptable face of rationing as it not compulsory and offers compensation for the inconvenience of too little supply.

The problem with this approach is it is still damaging to the UK economy and to consumers. We, the consumers, will have to pay for the payments to business to scale back their consumption. We are going to have to pay higher prices for our own power, as Mr Davey uses the price mechanism to ration energy use further.

The main reason we are in this predicament is our membership of the EU, which has driven a policy of dear energy and has now required us to close some of our power stations prematurely as the EU is against their emissions of CO2. The failure of the previous government to make alternative provision has compounded the problem. They did, of course, sign up to all this at EU level in the first place without considering how to keep the lights on.

Mr Davey now has to cut loose from his pro EU pro dear energy sympathies and show he can solve our immediate and growing problem. I have called for the retention of the power stations that we have recently closed for a period whilst we are building new conforming plant to generate power. This is an easy and cheap way of resolving the crisis. All Mr Davey has to do is to negotiate a derogation from the Enissions Directive for a limited time whilst he sorts out the underlying problems of power supply.

We are told  Euro friendly Ministers have influence in Brussels.  We are told by Europhiles that  Brussels is there to help make us more prosperous. This is a simple way to test out these propositions. Surely Brussels can see that driving up the price  of energy and finding acceptable  ways to ration are the last thing the UK needs at the moment?  It’s time for Mr Davey to save our recently closed power stations, and have them available to produce the power we need for the next few winters.

The EU would be well advised to grasp that of all its unpopular and costly policies which damage the UK, dear energy is one of the most unpopular.

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  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    If this is all Brussels to blame how can it be that coal-fired power stations are still operational and new ones being built in Germany and the Netherlands? Could it be the UK interpretation of EU policy?

    • Jerry
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      @PvR: Or perhaps it is because the UK, alone in seems at times, actually implements EU laws and regulations as written, rather than loosing it down the backs of filing cabinets and the like until such time as someone objects?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        @Jerry: following your reasoning, one shouldn’t blame Brussels but the national government. (NB I’m not defending coal-fired power stations, I don’t have to agree with my national government on everything)

        • outsider
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          Dear Peter van Leeuwen, You are making a fair point here.
          Although EU rules are directly to blame, what is happening here on coal stems from the previous UK government’s disastrous 2003 Energy Policy paper. This effectively pinned the prospect of new coal-fired stations to the doomed speculative technology of carbon capture and storage instead of focusing on making coal stations as harmless as possible, CO2-wise, in more practical ways.
          More generally, the lack on investment in new UK plant can be traced back to the UK’s “more competitive” New Electricity Trading Arrangements (Neta) of 2001, which made it unduly risky to invest in anything but the predominant fuel (by this stage gas).
          Furthermore, the vast majority of UK generating plant is owned by German, French and Spanish companies that benefit greatly from tight supply and, under the Neta industry structure, they have no obligation to ensure adequate supplies.
          As it happens, I publicly predicted the possibility of brown-outs from about 2015 back when Neta came in. Thankfully, the recession and extension of nuclear plant life have made serious blackouts somewhat less likely than I once feared – or at least delayed the evil day.

      • Hope
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        What is breath taking is that Cameron and Clegg claim they came together for the national interest and the the economy w the number one priority. Is clearly demonstrates they spoke a load of old tosh. Tis is such an absurd situation one can only draw the conclusion the cabinet is too incompetent to run the country. I cannot wait for 2015. To rid the UK from the EU claw and Europhile fanatics that will literally do anything to stay inside the EU no matter the cost to the ordinary citizen.

        We have seen this with Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Span, Ireland and Portugal the perils of the Euro and the EU. The EU will steal citizens money to prevent the collapse of the Euro. Cameron claims he negotiates well, what a joke, read Mats Pearson on the UK rebate. Look at the 7per cent rise for Eurocrats pay and pensions. Te EU took £1.3 billion punds to show the UK who was boss last month, where is that shown in any spending figures. All will be hidden not to portray the EU in bad light. Time to severe ties with the EU, trade only or nothing.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          The EU will steal citizens money to prevent the collapse of the Euro.

          If you’re referring to the levy on bank account by the Cypriot Government this was to prevent the banks in Cyprus from failing, rather than protecting the euro. Had these banks not acquired so much bad debt this levy wouldn’t have been necessary.

      • uanime5
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Actually the UK is going beyond what is required by the EU regarding reducing CO2 emissions. That’s why Germany and the Netherlands can open coal power plants while the UK cannot.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          @U5: You mean is that the UK implements EU policy as the EU intended whilst other member countries merely pay lip service to it… 🙂

          Seriously though, had the EU not pinned their policies sop firmly to those of the relevant protest movements” (in this case CO2) there would have been little reason to suspect any EU member country would have handicapped their economies with needless regulations never mind a looming energy crisis.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted June 30, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

            There is a tendency for the UK Civil Service to ‘gold plate’ EU regulations, making them even tougher and more stupid. There is an easy remedy; find out which Civil Servants have been responsible and sack them, pour encourager les autres.

          • uanime5
            Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            No I made it quite clear that the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands are all complying with EU law. The only difference is that the UK has decided to go beyond what is required under EU law.

            @Lindsay McDougall
            Surely the minister in charge of these Civil Servants should also be fired for failing to supervise them.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

            @U5: Do you work for the EU?

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Peter ,

      The EU large scale combustion directive requires that existing old coal power stations be decommissioned because of emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxides , mercury compounds etc .

      In countries like Germany , this has encouraged the implementation of a new generation of coal power stations which churn out less pollutants and convert coal into electricity more efficiently too .

      So far so good and UK electricity generation companies probably would have invested in upgrading and replacing UK coal power stations but ….

      …. New UK electricity generation stations must not emit more than 380g of CO2/kwh .

      Germany’s coal generation stations emit 770g CO2/kwh when they are new and in perfect condition .

      The UK laws are designed to prevent implementation of any new coal fired electricity generation and they are 100% effective .

      This is a policy decision made by Westminster and nothing to do with the EU .

      Almost the only politicians in Westminster who have done a hard science degree are Graham Stringer (Labour) and Peter Lilley (Conservative) .

      OK , there are a couple of others but you could count them all on two hands – in boxing gloves .

      Within a decade we should have got underground coal gasification to work to 21st century standards and that keeps many pollutants underground or makes them easier to scrub from the syn-gas stream before it is sent to a CCGT .

      The backers of these schemes have concluded UK prejudices against coal are on borrowed time .

      • stred
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget the ex Director of Strategy and Futures, Mr Brearley, recently resigned from DECC, has a ‘background in maths, physics and economics’. And an ex Brown wonk too. We must give credit where it is due.

        And Mr Davey, when developing strategy and futures for the Libdums thought plan L in the DECC book Sustainable Energy was appropriate. This involved a very large PV collector in the Sahara, getting the locals to wipe off the sand and transmitting it via Spain and France. Fortunately, the Spanish did not take it seriously.

        Now that coal fired power stations are being coverted to burn American and New Zealand tree clippings, we need not worry too much about ‘futures’. The fact that electricity is many times more expensive and saves bugger all CO2 is being ‘grandfathered’, ie ignored.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Of course if we weren’t in the EU then we wouldn’t be having these endless and increasingly tiresome discussions about whether some stupid policy adopted by our national government is or is not a consequence of EU law, or of our national government’s incorrect interpretation of EU law, or whether the governments of certain foreign countries are incorrectly interpreting or ignoring EU law, and what the EU Commission or the EU Court of Justice or the EU Parliament might think about it, and whether one of our national ministers might be able to wheedle some kind of concession, which may or may not involve disregarding EU law.

      As far as I’m concerned the day when we finally extricate ourselves from the rotten anti-democratic EU legal system and restore our national democracy can’t come soon enough; and maybe you should welcome it as well, because once we’ve left you won’t have to spend so much of your valuable time trying to persuade us that we should stay in.

      • alan jutson
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink


        A perfect explanation by you.

        I wonder if our governments simply like to continue with our EU membership because when ever they are shown as being totally incompetent, they can just hide behind the simple excuse of blaming the EU for everything.

        Thus we have easy, lazy politics, always blame someone else, but never tackle the real cause, no matter if it is at home or in the EU.

      • Hope
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Well said.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        @Denis: Denis you are far more prolific and in more blogd than me, so you would be the one saving a lot of time after Britain were finally “freed” from the EU. The sad prediciton which I have to make for you is that, in the end, Britain will remain an EU member. Tomorrow in spite of the crisis, the EU will increase from 27 to 28, in january the EZ will go from 17 to 18, it is difficult to see any eurosceptic victories over the past 40 years at all! So in a way I’m only trying to soften the blow of a future referendum by already now offering some alternative perspectives in spite of all the strong language used. Some hard eurosceptics even perceive a monster they call the EUSSR and cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that European Council chairman Van Rompuy was elected by his peers and have a host of other strange dogmas and myths to believe in. When the time comes, these arguments will not be taken seriously.
        Interesting to call the EU anti-democratic when EU democracy actually came to the rescue of Britain, by offering its anti-European party UKIP a democratic platform in Europe, which it was denied at home due to a different national election system.

    • cosmic
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Part of it is to do with the way we stated base level emissions to our disadvantage, all part of taking the lead on climate change, as with the Climate Change Act and its impossible targets.

      So yes, as with most of the ills which flow from the EU, there’s a large home-grown element.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Under Section 1 of that 2008 Act:

        “It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline.”

        Under Section 2 he can ask Parliament to agree to an order changing the 80% target and/or the choice of baseline year provided it appears to him that:

        “… there have been significant developments in –

        (i) scientific knowledge about climate change, or

        (ii) European or international law or policy,

        that make it appropriate to do so …”

        That is rather curious wording, because if Davey decided that scientific developments since 2008 justified changing the original target, one way or the other, then he could propose doing that; but equally he could propose doing it just because of a change to EU law or policy, even if he disagreed with the supposed scientific basis for that change to EU law or policy but had been outvoted within the EU; the question of course is whether the change to EU law or policy could be such that it compelled him to amend the UK’s target against his considered judgement.

        • A different Simon
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          John Redwood ,

          The supposed restrictions of the grounds on which a secretary of state can refer a proposal to parliament for an amendment to UK “carbon accounts” are somewhat baffling .

          Do Acts of parliament in other areas attempt to handcuff future secretary of states in this way ?

          What happens if the Secretary of State should propose a change for another reason like it is driving the UK bankrupt or threatening security of supply ?

          Reply IF it is just a matter of UK law a Secretary of State can change the law if he or she needs to. If it is EU law then Ministers are as powerless as the rest of us in many cases.

  2. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Davey has lost no time in proving that he is an incompetent ideologue. Cameron must sack him in the Summer reshuffle as if the lights go out this Winter any chance of the Electorate voting us back in in 2015 will vanish. Remember, it took Labour a generation to recover from the Winter of Discontent.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      @Kevin R. Lohse: Funny how the right always remember the 1978-9 “Winter of Discontent” whilst the left always remember the 1973-4 Winter…

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      The Tories have no chance whatsoever, even if the lights do stay on. Personally I tend to remember the Ted Heath three day week and pay rise controls disaster, which has been largely repeated by Major and Cameron in varying ways. When can we have some sensible government? Even Mrs Thatcher failed to cut the state very much and signed daft EU treaties.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: One of the few rare times I agree with all you say, even if the rational to our arguments might differ [1], indeed I believe the last time this country had a sensible Tory government was in the days of Harold Macmillan/Alec Douglas-Home…!

        That is not to say we have not had good government since the 1950s, both the Wilson and Thatcher governments made a lot of sense but both were dogmatic to their political beliefs first and country second, both eventually ran out of steam because it it.

        [1] I expect you think the Tories stand no chance because of Cameron, whilst I think the Tories stand no chance because of UKIP

  3. colliemum
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    We ordinary people have been pointing out the consequences of this irrational policy – ‘saving the planet’ from something which doesn’t exist – for years.
    We’ve been vilified in the media and by the previous PM, whose government introduced this insane EU policy.
    We’ve been made to pay for some years now, thanks to the present leader of the opposition, and the present government has been driving this failed policy forward.
    Does it ever occur to the PM and his ‘energy’ minister that the economy will never recover without cheap energy? Or that private consumption will never rise when people are not just taxed into poverty but have to pay more and more for energy they are now not even going to get? Perhaps he might realise that no new industries, not even the financial industry, will relocate here when they know they won’t have the energy available to allow their work.

    But perhaps this government and the opposition as well as the EU bureaucrats regard us, the people and tax payers, as the serfs and villeins of the Middle Ages who can be impoverished and who can suffer as long as the ‘green’ religionists, the bureaucrats and governments are being kept in the rich, warm circumstances to which they have become accustomed.
    It’ll end in tears …

    • Andyvan
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      The political and bureaucratic elite do regard us as serfs. Or more accurately as tax cattle. They are genuinely amazed when their livestock express opinions and object to being left in the dark.
      Their priorities are
      No.1 Consolidate and protect their power and privilege.
      No.2. Extend it wherever possible.
      No.3. Pay off their friends and supporters.
      No.4. Bribe enough of the electorate to majority votes.
      No.5. Maintain illusion of competence and control.
      No.6. Violently slap down any challenge to their power.
      No.100. Improve the health and wealth of their subjects.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        They clearly never get as far as 100!

    • nina andreeva
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Something that does not exist eh? Well you do not have to be some bearded weirdo to believe in “climate change”, man made or otherwise. Have a look at some of the research that some very hawkish people have done at the Pentagon in it being a threat to the security of the USA ,as people get on the move in search of food, water and land. Its very visible to me in Bristol, as there are so many asylum seekers here from Darfur. Do a bit of research and see what the underlying causes of that conflict is.

      Here is a nice little tit bit from Charlie Elphicke pointing out the tax avoidance strategies of the utility companies, so do not say that the money is not there to increase capacity either. Perhaps this government, as it likes to print money just as much as the last one, should do it instead and least then it could say it was better spent than propping up terminally ill banks and welfare recipients

      • Edward 2
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Maybe nina,your many new arrivals from Darfur will be able to return home when the predicted power cuts make Bristol cold and dark, as well as causing a huge loss of jobs

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        We’ve already been through the underlying causes of the Darfur conflict, when you put forward this line in March:

        And although JR doesn’t much like it to be mentioned, the main cause is the excessive growth of the population, because according to the UN:

        “Since 1973, Darfur’s population has grown almost six-fold, to roughly 7.5 million people. At historic growth rates, the area could be home to 12 million people by 2025.”

        That has been an average population growth rate of 5% a year, and even now it is a forecast population growth rate of 3% a year, and in both cases despite large numbers of people fleeing the region; and that’s part of a general pattern, that people in poor countries are making sure that their countries will remain in poverty forever by their failure to adopt modern methods of contraception.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Everyone believes in Climate change, after all it always has always will. But few sensible scientists believe in the religious construction of a man made warming global catastrophe – there is simply no solid science or reason to do so.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        @nina andreeva: “propping up terminally ill banks and welfare recipients”

        Nina, I’m sure you didn’t mean to sound as crass as you did in saying the above, what do you expect terminally ill people to do (welfare recipients or not), work until they literally drop?!

        Also it makes me chuckle when someone with a family name like yours starts ranting on about migration or asylum seekers, nice Anglo-Saxon name, very western European and all that… 😛

      • Bazman
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Another story about the utility companies last week was about getting overpayments back which they often take vie to high DD payments. Which on average takes 56 days. Now at the same time I was trying to get a refund for the £138. Taken after services were stopped. Lots of promises and incredulous tones that I would not get it by the said dates which turned into dates. Turned into. “Where is my money?” I said “Where is MY money? etc. Got it back via the DD system and not the utility company. Interesting to see the difference when you own them money. If you are poor, desperate, lacking zeal or whatever. You are not getting it back very soon.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          Indeed just demand that your bank refunds under the direct debit it is quicker.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          @Bazman: Indeed, Direct Debits are the invention of the devil (nice work if you can get it), nothing a DD needs to do can not be done via a Standing Order although a DD can do a lot more than a SO can do – if you get my drift, the payee can’t even stop the things without permission whilst the DD guarantee scheme is not worth the pater it is written on if the payees bank account is emptied without the account holders knowledge – perhaps whilst away and relying on drawing from their bank debit card…

          I would dearly like a stop put to utility companies and the like all but forcing customers to use DD’s by coercion, such as ‘fining’, sorry surcharging them for not using them, such practices should be stamped on by the relevant regulators – if not simply made illegal.

      • Sean O'Hare
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Its very visible to me in Bristol, as there are so many asylum seekers here from Darfur

        Darfur is an arid region and has been for centuries. Famines happen, always did and always will. Climate changes, always did and always will. It has nothing whatever to do with anthropogenic global warming.

        The reason that so many asylum speakers are over here is because they are opportunists taking advantage of the largesse of successive governments and our lax border controls.

      • colliemum
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Climate has been changing ever since this planet came into existence. Nobody denies that.
        What does not exists however is the meme that human CO2 emissions are the culprit, and that therefor ‘we’ must do everything to reduce our CO2 emissions.
        Funnily enough, CO2 levels have been rising steadily, but the global temperature hasn’t. So for those not blinded by that pseudo-science of AGW it is beyond ridiculous to destroy our economy, impoverish our people, destroy our landscapes, destroy wildlife for the sake of a minuscule amount of a benevolent gas which only occurs in minuscule amounts in the atmosphere – and our ‘contributions’ to that minuscule amount are even more minuscule.
        And it isn’t the greenies of all parties nor their bureaucrats who’ll sit in the dark, only able to read by candlelight, it will be us tax payers, who’ll pay for that ‘privilege’.
        If that doesn’t make you angry, then I don’t know what will.

        • uanime5
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Actually the scientific evidence has shown that since CO2 emissions started rising at the end of the 19th century that the average global temperature has been steadily rising.

          The fact that you don’t like the science doesn’t make it wrong.

          • Edward 2
            Posted July 1, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

            You are confusing correlation with causation in your post Uni.

    • oldtimer
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      A clergyman was invited to appear on BBC Breakfast to comment on the newspapers. The first article was by Steven Glover of the Mail about the dangers of the lights going out. This was deemed worthy of criticism by the reviewer because it showed insufficient care for the planet and the threat of global warming caused by man-made CO2. I was struck by his absence of concern for the well-being of all those people in the north who will benefit from the jobs and income that will flow from the industrial renaissance that can flow from the development of shale gas – just as Aberdeen has from oil.

      Later he was critical of the prospect of drilling rigs spoiling the countryside – yet seemed entirely oblivious to the impact of wind farms on the countryside.

      Double standards rule.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        The trickle down effect again. Demand is what creates jobs and money. Not the companies and their contracts or the rich.
        Its quite possible they will get all of the problems and none of the benefit as the work will be done by outside contractors employing non local labour as is often the case. Sure the contract will have to use local hotels and sandwich shops, but that will be all. A few token jobs to locals toshing paint and labouring on short term contracts. Morecambe bay is a good example of this with one of the largest gas terminals in Europe and few locals employed in it’s construction or subsequently in the gas industry.

        • A different Simon
          Posted July 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          Local hauliers and construction workers .

          UK steel workers for casings – if we had a tube-mill in the UK capable of making them which I don’t think we have so the casings would come from France unless someone invests in it .

          Chemical , fertiliser and plastics factories to take gas as a feedstock .

          Ceramics manufacturers in Staffordshire to make high-strength proppant granules .

          Engineering companies like Weir in Glasgow providing the pumps .

          Prospect for UK manufactures to manufacture Euro spec land rigs including coiled tubing drill rigs . To produce Euro spec frac spreads .

          Bespoke engineering solutions to facilitate isolation of multiple horizontal laterals from the same vertical well . Precision engineering to manufacture the components as happens for aerospace .

          Increase in the number of well inspectors and environmental regulatory staff , water analysis labs , chemistry labs , geo’s .

          The increase in onshore E&P facilitated by shale has created hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs in the U.S. and has enabled re-onshoring of chemical and energy intensive industries . The offshore industry created work for shipyards .

          Clearly you are right about the critical jobs being done by specialists .
          With multiple laterals from the same horizontal production well costs may run £15m so obviously this is a job for a specialist .

          The frac stimulation may run the same again and requires boffins in white coats .

          • Bazman
            Posted July 6, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

            Previous experience shows that in fact if fracing and its a big if. The companies like the utility and train companies will be sold off to foreign, often state owned industries and profits leaving the country with little taxation and the taxpayer who is also the user left with higher bills. In this case with the dirty infrastructure in their neighbourhoods too. We will see where if these rigs are built and you can be sure they will not be in expensive areas.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        @oldtimer: “I was struck by his absence of concern for the well-being of all those people in the north who will benefit from the jobs and income that will flow from the industrial renaissance that can flow from the development of shale gas – just as Aberdeen has from oil.

        Indeed and not just in the north, people tend to forget that there is on-shore oil (and the likelihood of shale gas) production along the south coast. But more to the point if our energy was significantly cheaper then our general manufacturing base could and most likely would be a lot stronger, I’m really not sure which is more damaging for the UK’s economic well being, ‘bad banks’ or bad science – in the shape of AGW…

  4. Tad Davison
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Good point John.

    No matter how we look at it, Britain’s membership of the EU does us more harm than good. Mr Cameron needs to explain to us precisely what the renegotiated terms are that makes him favour us staying in so much. It surely cannot be the inhibiting EU energy policy, so how would he do things differently?

    Perhaps if he cared to explain these things in more detail, and removed the cloudiness and ambiguity, we could have a proper debate, but it’s the same with all the Europhiles. They tell us being part of the EU is a good thing, but not how. In my experience, as soon as they’re asked that searching question, the dialogue dries up. MPs, ministers, acedemics, financial analysts et. al never seem to want to fully explain their stance.

    Tad Davison


    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      @Tad Davison: Obviously, Mr Cameron is a staunch defender of British national interest, having again defended the British rebate against ambush (a full 0.0025% of UK GDP protected! :)) I’m just surprised that he had to seek American Wild West language to tell this to the media ( “lock and load and have one up the spout, and be ready for it”). Could he not have drawn from good European heritage and have used some Shakespeare quote?

      • Hope
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        The UK has a veto on the rebate, all he had to do was invoke it. He makes his claim to be popular. Read Mats Pearson article on the rebate and you get abetter understanding of what it actually means. Cameron cannot negotiate anything with the EU, he has shown his full hand in advance.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      All they ever say is a seat at the table (where we are always out voted) and free trade (which we can clearly negotiate anyway). They simply have no sensible pro EU arguments at all. After all we would not want to be richer and solvent like Switzerland and Norway would we.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      I have yet to hear anybody identify any good at all to the UK arising from the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, all of them milestones on the road to serfdom.

  5. lifelogic
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    But Davey, all the Libdems, Yeo and Cameron are all believers (like the dreadful Huhne) in the new CO2 devil gas religion. Either that or they realise it is bogus nonsense, but think there are votes or money in it. In fact there are far more votes, growth and jobs in a sensible cheap energy policy. We should keep the old power stations open and tell the EU to get lost. The BBC, Met office, some academics, some “charities”, many religions and the rest of the warmists need to be told to stop the absurd propaganda they have endlessly pushed on this issue and have their funding removed. Wind farms and PV simply are not cost effective. When they are, perhaps we should build some, but not until the. Repeal the climate change act now.

    Has Cameron decided what powers he wants back from the EU, or is he still like a rabbit in the headlights waiting for the election car to crush him and the Tories for several terms? It seems, as with the dreadful Ted Heath, we will have energy rationing and perhaps some power cuts too. Heath, Major and now Cameron, why one earth do these people join the Tories if they have not a single Tory view in their heads and think with their guts in such bizarre ways?

    • Bazman
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      At least we have got to the bottom of your absurd employments law rants. As you have no answer as to why zero hour contracts are not easy hire and fire.There should be no employments laws and any method of claiming unfair dismissal. Now are you going to tell us this is the way forward for the workforce and the employers? You are either an idiot or on some sort of crusade if you believe this. Will you be ranting further on this subject? Of course you are. Look at his reply or lack of it for confirmation of this.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        A reply is expected from you.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

        I just think it should be a free agreement reached between employer and employee the same as any other contract but without the largely idiotic, constricting and counterproductive employment laws mucking about with the free agreement. They make it worse for employees too.

        • Bazman
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          As put to you before we have one of the most lax employment law regimes in the industries world. Employees can be employed on short term contracts, zero hour contracts, self employment, umbrella companies and other ways. You cannot say specifically which laws are restricting employment, so it is safe to assume you just want to fire anyone who complains, asks for more money, becomes ill or pregnant or points out safety concerns in order to exploit the working person.
          How having no employment laws will ‘help’ the like of cleaners is your fantasy which ‘help’ is used to disguise nastiness When challenged as to how specifically this will ‘help’ you have no answers. The rest of your rant weasel word without factual basis. Osborne at his best.

  6. Man in a Shed
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    This has been coming for a long time. It is vital for the health of our democracy that those who allowed this to happen are made to pay the price.

    Top of the list to be tried is surely Ed Miliband ( ex Energy and Climate Change secretary ).

    I also wonder if the technical illiteracy of many ministers and senior opposition politicians contributes to the kindergarten incompetence shown in public policy in this area.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Technical illiteracy and a lack of numeracy seem to be the main requirements to be a minister in this government or indeed in most religions and PR. Basic appeals to irrational base envy and childish emotions is the name of the game.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        This is why you are such a fan of Delingpole I take it. With his sound scientific knowledge and cool emotionless approach to any subject? Most of you beliefs are based on the irrational pretending to be rational.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          @Bazman: “Most of you beliefs are based on the irrational pretending to be rational.”

          Cough, the above describes even the most rational of arguments in favour of AGW!

    • John Eustace
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I agree that there is a woeful lack of engineers in government but that is just part of the issue. Even a person of very limited ability and intelligence could not have failed to see this issue coming.
      Our professional political class, many of whom have never done a real job, know they will only be in post for a few years at most and so feel no need to make themselves unpopular by tackling the difficult long term issues.
      It is a shameful prioritisation of their own careers above the interests of the people they are elected to serve. We are in the era of kicking the can down the road.

  7. Jerry
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    This is not rationing, we are told.

    No it’s a Bl**dy omni-shambles, caused as you say by the EU’s absurd anti CO2 policies, but the last Labour government would have done much the same at the international level had there been no EU telling the UK what to do.

    Our own domestic politicains have failed in their own right on this, and here I include past Tory governments, as this energy crisis has been brewing for two decades and more (given the lead times on nuclear etc.), far to many energy ministers have put difficult or politicly sensitive decisions back on the self for far to long. If Mr Davey had not nailed his colours so firmly to the AGW mast one could almost feel sorry for him, that the dice finally stopped on his watch…

    What is the position at Didcot, is there any chance that this power station can be revived (or at least mothballed) or have they already started to rip the heart out of it?

    We should tell the EU (and the UN) that the UK will keep her light on, keep her industry operating, at all costs, and if that means doing like China (and Germany…) does by building new (or rebuilding old) coal fired power stations -with or without CCS- then we will, if we are fined those fines will go unpaid, if the EU do not like it then we know where the exit door from “Le Club” is and we don’t mind using it.

    • M Davis
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Last paragraph – hear, hear!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      “… if that means doing like China (and Germany…) does by building new (or rebuilding old) coal fired power stations -with or without CCS … ”

      As I understand, it’s WITHOUT Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS, for Germany as well as China:

      Including the plants coming on stream this year, there are 12 coal fired stations due to open by 2020. Along with the two opened last year in Neurath and Boxberg, they will be capable of supplying 19% of the country’s power.

      In addition, 27 gas fired stations are due on line, which should contribute a further 17% of Germany’s total electricity generation. (Based on 2011 statistics, total generation was 575 TwH).

      It is worth noting that none of these coal or gas plants will be built with Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), which is a legal requirement for coal generators in the UK, despite the fact that the technology does not yet exist on a commercial scale.”

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 2, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Comment awaiting moderation.

  8. Alex
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    As a believer in small government, who has been appalled by both the micro-managing of energy policy by the EU and by UK governments and by the fatuous green energy agenda, I am viewing the increasing panic of all parties with some amusement.
    It is now obvious that power cuts are coming. As governments have spent the last couple of decades claiming credit for green policies and for planning energy production this will (quite rightly) be a catastrophe for whichever party the electorate decides is responsible.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Do the government understand the vast damage and even deaths, that power cuts and expensive energy will cause?

    • waramess
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Alex, I could not agree more.

      Once again we scratch at the surface of the problem and ignore the cause. This really has nothing at all to do with Davey nor has it much to do with the EU; it has everything to do with big government and their desire to have a finger in every pie.

      This disaster has been predicted for a very long time as have the non functional NHS and education systems and now these morons want to build a 35 billion train service, electric I imagine.

      One day maybe they will calm down and see their role for what it is, particularly with regard to robust competition in the energy sector.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        @waramess: “it has everything to do with big government and their desire to have a finger in every pie.

        The UK has NOT suffer power cuts (bar during industrial strife) nor have we been warned that we face power cuts since the introduction of the full national grid and nationalisation of the power supply industry [1], since Government took some of their fingers out of this pie things have steadily become problematic. Ofgem (and their immediate forebears) were never set up to regulate and plan electricity generation [2] and no one in government and their underlings (the private generating companies) are now willing to make the sorts of hard decisions that were able to be made in the days of the nationalisation and the CEGB.

        [1] 1938 and 1947 respectively

        [2] they were set up to protect the consumer from cartel style pricing and unscrupulous contracts etc. within the electricity and gas supply industries

    • cosmic
      Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Inevitably that will be whichever party is in office when the music stops.

      Unfair since all three major parties have played their fair share to inflict this.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink


      Agree with your comments ,but unfortunately we will not be laughing when the lights do go out or power is rationed.

      I remember well the 3 day week, yes we did survive, yes businesses did operate, all be it at lower capacity, but it was only for a short period.

      It takes years to plan, design and construct power stations.

      The simple answer is to keep going what we have and stick two finger up to anyone who dares to confront us about doing so, then at the same time actually get plans fixed for some new power stations (all of one proven design, for cost effective build) whilst we plan for our future with perhaps more complex and futuristic designs.

      • stred
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately Alan, for reasons given by ‘a different Simon’ above the persons we should be giving two fingers to is ourselves. that is the jerks at DECC who halved EU allowances for CO2. We could have done as the Germans are doing. The UK plan is a shambles devised by incompetents.

  9. Kenneth Morton
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Apparently, Mr. Cameron’s red mist of anger has been on display at the latest meeting of EU leaders. Good for him!

    Now that he has begun to appreciate the loathing of some EU countries for everything British and he realizes the serious problem the country faces with regard to energy supply, it is time for him to act, unilaterally if necessary.

    He has excelled in the past when he has found his back against the wall. Time to do so again. Even to end the coalition if the Lib Dems are unable to him in extending the life of the older power stations.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Another example of the one party state in action. As with the economy, the three main parties in parliament have the same policy – higher prices and less reliable energy supply. However you look at it whether it is their own view or one forced on them by the EU they are not fit for office. There has been much talk recently about jailing public servants for misconduct in public office – cabinet ministers should be the first to be made an example of.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    We are told that the climate is changing because of human activity. Our government wants us to cut our CO2 emissions. The population is increasing.

    What no one is explaining is that the more the population increases the greater will have to be our CO2 reduction per person to meet the targets for the country as a whole. And that means even more expensive energy.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      @Alan Wheatley: “And that means even more expensive energy

      Even if your preamble is correct, which is becoming increasingly very doubtful, your conclusions (above) are wrong – it costs nothing to educate people to use less energy or to use it more efficiently, in the 1070s it was done, it could be done again, but of course back in the ’70s energy supply was a public service (in the main) rather than a means to a private profit…

    • Bob
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      @Alan Wheatley
      “We are told that the climate is changing because of human activity. “

      Geoengineering is “human activity”, so that is technically correct.

  12. ferdinand
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    This whole problem issues from the Climate Change Act which was rushed through without any real thought and certainly no close analysis of the scientific processes.

  13. Roger Farmer
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    The Government and conservative party have become a very sick joke. If you cannot provide sufficient energy at worldwide competitive rates you should get out and make way for someone who can. Using the EU and all the sick green sorcerers as an excuse is not leadership, it is abysmal failure and surrender.
    God preserve us from your continued presence until May 2015, beyond which you will not survive.
    Rid yourselves of Cameron, invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start governing the country for the benefit of the population. Just about every where you look in the UK there are levels of incompetence, waste, and corruption that no commercial enterprise could sustain. I admire the effort you make in your diary, but is anyone reading or listening in positions of power who has the guts to do anything about this catalogue of failure.

  14. David Cooper
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    “We are told Euro friendly Ministers have influence in Brussels. We are told by Europhiles that Brussels is there to help make us more prosperous.”

    Indeed. But as Daniel Hannan noted earlier this week, the truth is that Eurocrats are anti-prosperity (except for their own prosperity) and anti-British. If only our political class would realise this.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      @David Cooper: To be fair, eurocrats are anti any member country that doesn’t share their Federalist views, it is not just being anti British. Basically member countries need to accept that one either gets with the EU (Federalist) programme or one gets out of “Le Club” and I believe that is the way even the EU are starting to see it even if some of the affected governments don’t yet.

  15. Martin
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    The trouble in Britain is that governments always play the short term populist game. Power stations are long term and don’t fit well with the electoral cycle.

    What ever type of power station say 20% of the population support the other 80% oppose.

  16. JohnOfEnfield
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Mr Readwood,

    your posting is far far too reasonable.

    I am truly staggered at the burning desire of Davey & his ilk to take away by pricing and lack of availability the fundamental base of our civilisation. He says that he will pay businesses to stop using electricity and that this is not rationing. Who on earth is he kidding? He is attempting to destroy our economy by these actions.

    He is also using extremely short term solutions to what will become a catastrophicly chronic problem. What is he going to replace coal, gas and nuclear power with? It cannot be wind power, than needs ninety percent back up by conventional sources. This is an outrageous policy driven by an outrageous dogma.

    When politicians start attacking the very foundations of our prosperity they open themselves to being attacked by single issue parties. When he attacks the very warmth & comfort of our homes…He will rightly reap the whirlwind.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink


      What Mr Davey has yet to explain, is where he is going to get the money from, to pay businesses not to use power.

      Perhaps he actually thinks he will get it from the workers, forgetting of course that many would have been made redundant because of shorter hours or lack of work.
      Businesses, forgetting of course that their profits will be down, and thus so will the governments tax take.

      Ah yes perhaps we can print some more funny money.

      The man is completely out of touch with reality, but the government are still planning to make us pay triple the rate for wind power.

      Only in the UK (or the EU) would such nonesense be even discussed, let alone though of as a possible policy. !

  17. JohnOfEnfield
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Apologies Mr Redwood. I could blame the spellchecker but….I’m sorry!

  18. forthurst
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    “The problem with this approach is it is still damaging to the UK economy and to consumers.”

    apparently not: apparently, factories and businesses will be able to make up for lost time by opening on Saturday mornings. Another approach might be to target power cuts into safe Labour seats and time them to coincide with popular soaps, reality teevee, football matches etc.

    One slight problem appears to be that Davey has not yet fully grasped that plastering the countryside with windfarms will not add one iota of reserve capacity, as windmills cannot be relied upon to slice up rare birds 24/7.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      @forthurst: “Another approach might be to target power cuts into safe Labour seats and time them to coincide with popular soaps, reality teevee, football matches etc.

      You mean like they did in the winters between 1970 and 1974 you mean?! :0

      I know you made the comment very tongue in cheek, or at least I hope you did…

  19. John Eustace
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I agree that the malaise in policy started in the last government but that will not save sitting Conservatives or Lib Dems if the lights are going out at the time of the next election – what has the Coalition done to tackle the issue?
    What is needed is reliable cost-effective base load generating capacity. That does not mean windmills. They are the least useful source of capacity to the Grid as they cannot be relied upon. (If a way can be found to store their energy cost effectively such that it can be released rapidly when needed then that will be a different story as that would be the most valuable type of capacity.)
    And if we are going to tell the EU we are going to miss our commitments it would be only polite to look as if we might have some sort of plan to fix the situation.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      @John Eustace: “I agree that the malaise in policy started in the last government but that will not save sitting Conservatives or Lib Dems if the lights are going out at the time of the next election

      Do remind us of the lead time (planning, construction, commissioning) for new nuclear power stations…

      Sorry to say but the malaise in policy started years before the last government (1997-2010) was elected, even more so considering that it was a then Tory leader/government who first took notice of the anti CO2 lobby. The Dash for Gas (and privatisation of the GEGB) didn’t exactly help either, with increasing use of lean-supply theory, just enough capacity, from power stations that could be brought up on-line quicker than their older coal fired equivalents.

      Reply Electricity privatisation and the gas for dash both cut prices and CO2 output and left us in a good position. It was what followed in the 200s that caused the trouble.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply: Cutting Co2 and lower prices is what has brought us to were we are, closed power stations and not enough money in the industry to invest. Why can’t the right-wing see that it is as much their energy policies as much as Labours Green policies that have caused this, both governments have been as bad as each other in this respect!

        We should have been building new nuclear power stations by 1997, using the receipts from both privatisation and North Sea oil taxation to fund such a building programme. Look at France, made the decision to build nuclear power stations way back, now they have a surplus of capacity that they export to the UK and Germany…

        Sorry John but the Tory party can stamp their feet all they like but the electorate can see other countries who took a better long view 20 or 30 years (and more) ago and are not suffering the same issues that the UK are.

  20. Max Dunbar
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Do the government and power companies have to do everything for us? Consider making arrangements for individual or group power supply using independent means. Many households already have private water, sewerage and access roads – and want to keep it that way for obvious reasons.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      @Max Dunbar: What a load of tosh! Very few households have private utilities and access roads, even private estates often have connections to the National grids (water, gas, power, sewage etc.) whilst many will have public rights of way through them meaning that (bar perhaps public vehicular traffic) the roads are not actually private even if maintenance fails to the estate/residents.

      One has to live quite a, if not a very, remote life to fulfil your suggestion, I’m not ever sure if the properties of Sandbanks (Dorset) would fit your theory…

  21. Acorn
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Have you bought your HEAT PUMP yet. You may not have realized, but our future energy plan depend on having ground source heat pumps to supply new domestic heating by 2020. Tough if you haven’t got a garden to dig up and plant it. (Like a refrigerator but sucking the heat out of the ground rather than the three dozen bottles of Stella inside your fridge).

    We could, by 2020, have 32,000 MW of wind turbines as well, we got about 6,000 at the moment. Demand may go up to 62 -68,000 MW by that date. NETA has stopped publishing its “generation by fuel type” data, because the wind output is so embarrassingly poor and even more difficult to predict than expected and the smart traders have started gaming the system.

    Get used to the three scenarios Accelerated Growth; Gone Green and Slow Progression. My money is on the last one. Shale gas is predicted at circa 2% (two) of supply by 2020, at the moment, but don’t put any money on that.

    • Bazman
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      I have got three air heat pumps or Daikin air con units in my house. 1kw in 3kw out. Not as cheap to run as the gas boiler, but considering you are heating/cooling such large areas use quite a remarkably low amount of energy and are almost silent even when all three run at the same time at full tilt. Wiring, which as the have a high initial load, can be very expensive depending on where the electricity meter is.

    • Mark
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      As far as I can see this page is still working and reporting current and recent fuel mixes, including data on wind:

      What is interesting is the final chart on the page that shows total capacity falling below 64GW within 2 years – if you remove the wind element from that because wind can generate nothing in a winter high, you can see the cause of OFGEM’s concern about power blackouts, given peak demand of over 56GW shown in the first table on the page.

    • sn
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Neta stats – gen by fuel type available today? Useful if extra columns showed data for periods > 24 hrs e.g. mtd & ytd.

      Strategic subsidies should not be funded by user bills. Think QE or general taxation.

      The only condition being the assets remain under state protection and stay in production once built. Including new inter-connectors to Northern Europe for example via Dogger bank and to large hydro potential.

      It might reduce our currency value, but would add extra supply to push down on power prices and imports.

      Stable population equals stable energy demand and other needs?

    • stred
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      According to the DECC book, Sustainable Energy, ground heat pumps are not much use anyway. The run out of heat, as the houses are too close together and make the ground too cold.

      • Acorn
        Posted July 2, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        I know of one large household installation in France, that cracked the foundations of the building as the ground froze.

  22. Bryan
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    If Mr Cameron worked in Industry as a CEO then he and his senior team would be fired by the Board for incompetence.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      @Bryan: If Mr Cameron worked in Industry as a CEO he might actually have a clue, and the same goes for many of the post 1990s intake of MPs, there far to many professional career politicians in parliament these days.

  23. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    “All Mr Davey has to do is to negotiate a derogation from the Emissions Directive for a limited time whilst he sorts out the underlying problems of power supply.”

    Even if he was prepared to attempt that, is there a legal mechanism for him to wheedle any such concession, other than a new Directive to amend the present Directive?

    Putting that another way, does the present Emissions Directive include any provision for a member state to belatedly request a temporary derogation or postponement?

    If not, are you expecting that he could persuade the EU Commission and the governments of other EU member states to turn a blind eye to the UK’s breach of the Directive?

    If that is a reasonable expectation, why not ask Parliament to expressly approve a breach of the Directive, and get things moving to solve the problem, and just wait to see whether that deliberate breach of the Directive provokes any reaction from the EU?

    Oh, because the majority of MPs would not be prepared to vote for any breach of EU law, least of all in defiance of their party leaders; their primary allegiance is not to this country and its people but instead to the EU; so they regard EU law as sacrosanct, and they would rather have constituents freezing to death in the dark than vote to break it.

    • Mark
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      As far as I can detect the procedure is that a Member State applies to the European Commission for an extension of a derogation, which it may or may not grant. The willingness of the Commission to grant such an extension might be influenced by its perceptions about the chances of the UK voting to leave the EU if the derogation is not granted. Certainly, I would make it plain to the Commission that they would be blamed directly for UK power cuts should they fail to grant the derogation asked for were I on the negotiating team.

  24. Acorn
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    JR you may want to ask a question about gas storage in the UK? .

    There is no new storage being built at the moment, (no money in it; “cushion gas” to expensive to sit on), as far as I am aware; some proposed for the 2020s. LNG is supposed to substitute for it, coming from the middle east and assuming no war going on when we need it and the price is not being set by a bandit seller.

  25. English Pensioner
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    This potential shortage of generating capacity is not new news, it has been known for years, but no-one wanted to listen.
    If we do have any blackouts, even for short periods, before the next general election it will be the end of the Conservative Party as we know it. UKIP will be happy to blame the Tories for making us slaves of the EU and destroying the country in order to meet their directives.
    The latest EU proposal is that all new white goods (fridges, washing machines, etc) should be fitted with remote controlled switches which will allow the Power companies to switch them off by sending a signal through the mains. This will allow the generators to control demand remotely and indirectly control our lives.
    I think Honda will do well with sales of their small petrol-electric generators!

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      @EP: “If we do have any blackouts, even for short periods, before the next general election it will be the end of the Conservative Party as we know it. UKIP will be happy to blame the Tories for making us slaves of the EU and destroying the country in order to meet their directives.

      It might perhaps also spell the end of UKIP as well… After all UKIP is a party primarily of the free market and as people realise that the free market (for the utilities) doesn’t actually work very well -remember that these voters are suffering power cuts- they could move towards those parties willing to consider, or those with firm manifesto pledges, to re-nationalise such utilities and a return to the more centralised energy planning/financed way of doing things from the (living memory) past.

  26. Mark
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Not mentioned in the Bill itself, here are the guaranteed prices that Parliament has authorised will be paid to new renewables investments:

    For projects with a potential deployment capacity over 1 GW:

    Offshore wind will receive £155/MWh, falling to £135 in 2019
    Onshore wind will receive £100, dropping to £95 in 2019
    Large solar PV will receive £125, falling to £110 in 2019
    Hydro will receive £95 throughout
    Biomass conversion will receive £105 throughout.

    There are also prices for:

    gasification and pyrolysis (£155-£135)
    anaerobic digestion (£145-£135)
    waste to energy (£90)
    dedicated biomass with CHP (£120)
    geothermal (£125-£120)
    landfill gas (£65)
    sewage gas (£85), and
    marine energy technologies (tidal, barrage) (£305).

    These figures should be compared with US power prices for peak power that ranged between $22(£14.50)/MWh in the Seattle area to $46(£30.25)/MWh in New York in 2012 (FERC data). Off-peak prices ranged from just $17.50(£11.50)/MWh to $28(£18.50)/MWh.

    It should be mentioned that the reason for the OFGEM panic on the capacity margin is that generators have told them they will be closing gas fired CCGT capacity on top of the mandated closures of coal power. This is quite easy to do in the oligopoly environment of the Big 6, where effectively they operate as a government run cartel. This behaviour would not happen if we still had the competitive market that existed before Labour’s Utilities Act encouraged mass consolidation and concentration in the hands of overseas interests, and further regulation cut competition: what could be less competitive than fixed guaranteed prices at lavish subsidy levels just agreed in Parliament? A referral to Competition authorities seems in order.

    Moreover, Osborne’s Carbon Floor Price has made keeping a spinning reserve to back up the increasing volumes of unreliable renewables a very expensive proposition. This will mean that even when capacity is theoretically available, it might not be operating to handle surges in demand or failures in renewables generation, leading to blackouts that can spread as sections of the grid become overloaded and trip out.

    The fact that just the Bowland Shale in Northern England is assessed as having 1,330Tcf of gas resource has meanwhile been kept out of the limelight (indeed, until this announcement the official DECC view was that the entire UK had no more than 5.3Tcf). There are of course other substantial shale resources elsewhere throughout the UK – from Northern Ireland, where already sufficient to power them for over 50 years has been found a few miles from the site of the G8 summit, through the Weald basin in Southern England, and in South Wales – potentially reviving the depressed mining valley communities. Shale gas remains on the back burner – with the next licensing round not due until next year sometime (perhaps), and slow progress establishing the new regulator (who seems to have been picked for his background in supporting the development of wind).

    In the short term, we need to keep our existing capacity running. But we also need to switch from the expensive folly that the DECC and Parliament is pursuing (yes, no HS2 too), and switch to development of our own shale gas resources urgently.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      @Mark: “This behaviour would not happen if we still had the competitive market that existed before Labour’s Utilities Act encouraged mass consolidation and concentration in the hands of overseas interests

      Rubbish, it would likely be worse, decisions would be made for short term reasons, or to avoid penalty payments, the problem is not the Utilities Act but the various Climate Change Acts – your competitive market would still be subjected to such Acts and would be making their commercail decisions against such.

      Any further lack of centralised planning on energy could actually make the problem even worse!

      • Mark
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Rubbish. The introduction of competition in energy supply led to falling prices in real terms, and did not create capacity shortages. I will agree that the further legislation introduced by Labour has made the problems even worse, but the ability to impose on a handful of players, preventing the building of new capacity such as Kingsnorth and the legislation that requires that consumer interests be ignored in favour of green interests so far as the regulator is concerned are all deeply anti-competitive statism with an intent to reduce the economy back to the Stone Age. Please remember that the most recent legislation calls for formal rationing of supply, regardles of trends in weather or population, by over 40% of current production by 2030. No competitive private sector industry would dream of such a thing.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          @Mark: “The introduction of competition in energy supply led to falling prices in real terms, and did not create capacity shortages.

          But it has, now….

          Twenty years plus of private generating companies failing to invest, when they have made such investments they have done so in the wrong type of power stations

          • Mark
            Posted July 2, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

            The failure to invest has been caused by government policy and regulation from the 2001 Utilities Act onwards. Heavy reliance on interference in free markets with subsidies and taxes and quotas and technology bans capriciously added to legislation on a whim is not a free private sector market.

            Indeed, the subsidies for renewables are so unrealistic, uncompetitive and unaffordable that I’d constantly have sleepless nights worrying that they’d be withdrawn or subjected to windfall taxes if I were running one of those companies. Meantime, investments in cost effective technologies are loaded with extra taxes (see e.g. carbon Floor Price).

            We have a nationalised industry with a handful of PFI subcontractors in effect.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            Mark: “The failure to invest has been caused by government policy and regulation from the 2001 Utilities Act onwards.

            Total bunkum, you can’t even build a nuclear power station in time scale, it’s bearing enough time to plan and build a conventional power station! The problem has been caused by no long term planning and investment by the private energy companies since the 1980s.

            Oh and the UK do not have a nationalised power industry, the CEGB started to be privatised from circa 1991 and was complete by 2001 when the CEGB was formally abolished. Now most of the UK’s generating capacity is owned by either German or French companies.

  27. Atlas
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    John, what you say is only too correct.

    I’ve already e-mailed my MP about this parlous state of affairs – and reading an article in the Daily Express this morning on it – I’ve e-mailed him again. So you need not think that only your blog site is bearing the brunt of less-than-impressed voters like me.

    I’ve been following the power generation and consumption issue for a few decades and, having a background in things electrical/electronic, can only agree with you that the Government’s Energy Policy does not square up to reality.

  28. Neil Craig
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Much though I would like to blame the EU for everything the prime responsibility rests on our homegrown political class. If our electricity is currently 25% more expensive than Germany’s and shortly going to be 85% more then, even though Germany’s is also rising our government are clearly more parasitic than their’s.

    Economic Freedom + Cheap Energy = Fast Growth

    Clearly we cannot get out of recession with such rising electricity costs and indeed I know of no politician who has explained how we can.

    Of course with blackouts getting out of recession will recede beyond the horizon. UKIP and UKIP alone in British politics is committed to reducing energy costs and economic freedom. The other parties are not only against lowering prices they are even against any public discussion of the option.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      @Neil Craig: See my comment inn reply to “English Pensioner”, what you say about UKIP is only true if they can get elected before the lights go out and thus stop all the Climate Change Act nonsense, otherwise many might well see the fee market as part of their problems (in relation to energy), UKIP could be as damaged by all this as the three main stream parties.

      • Neil Craig
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        You are entirely wrong about the free market uniquely not working in the energy industry.

        If we had had such a free market we would long ago have built vast amounts of cheap nuclear capacity. At least 80% of nuclear cost (above 90% of average electricity cost) is unnecessary government regulation). If that had been the case 1 million unnecessary deaths from fuel poverty over the last 30 years would have been avoided.

        As the US demonstrates a freer energy market would now be providing vast amounts of cheap shale gas.

        The lack of these is ENTIRELY the fault of our corrupt political class. (etc ed)

        • Jerry
          Posted July 4, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          @Neil Craig: “If we had had such a free market we would long ago have built vast amounts of cheap nuclear capacity.

          Oh, do remind us when the UK arm of EDF etc. was nationalised?! Also it is because such private companies can not make UK nuclear power stations pay (within a free market system) why they are pulling out of talks/contracts to build such plants here in the UK…

          As the US demonstrates a freer energy market would now be providing vast amounts of cheap shale gas.

          That is more to do with taxation, like for like exploiting shale gas actually costs more than a normal gas/oil well, North sea gas could have been given away or a sovereign wealth fund set up and used to off set some of the end user costs.

          Oh and have you seen the typical state of the North electrical power distribution network, power cuts are headline making events in the UK, in the USA they are common occurrences, so much so that many people (were practical) install back up generators. So please, no we do not need to be any thing like the USA with their freer energy market were infrastructure costs are kept to the bare minimum.

  29. Pleb
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Is it to late to restart Didcot?

    Reply Good question. Didcot is one I would like to have available for use. The sooner we take action the better.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink


      Reports have suggested it is already being decomissioned (the very day after it stopped producing power) so it may be too late, but perhaps worth checking out, and halting the process if it has not gone too far.

      • stred
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        The UK scrapping industry is very efficient. the valuable bits are probably on their way to the Far East by now.

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink


          You are probably right, according to the BBC Reports decommissioning started on 31st March, so we are already into the 3rd month of taking it apart.

          Shame we cannot start building new ones so quickly !

        • Jerry
          Posted July 4, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

          @Stred: Indeed, I well remember how fast the closed BSC sites got demolished, the scrap steel no doubt finding its way to the smelters of the Far East, only to return to the UK as new freshly rolled steel etc. But hay-ho, it was cheaper steel, never mind the millions being paid to unemployed ex BSC workers to sit on their backsides (or being the inspiration for the film “The Full Monty”…). 🙁

  30. uanime5
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    The main reason we are in this predicament is our membership of the EU, which has driven a policy of dear energy and has now required us to close some of our power stations prematurely as the EU is against their emissions of CO2.

    The only power plants that are being closed at present are those that produce too much Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides, something the UK has known would happen since the 1980’s. It’s hardly fair to place all the blame on the EU when the UK had the choice of upgrading these power plants or building new ones but chose to do neither.

    They did, of course, sign up to all this at EU level in the first place without considering how to keep the lights on.

    The Conservatives agreed to the large combustion plants directive in 1988 and opted-out 9 power plants, even though all 9 power plants would have to be closed by the end of 2015. So it’s hardly fair to put all the blame on Labour.

    All Mr Davey has to do is to negotiate a derogation from the Enissions Directive for a limited time whilst he sorts out the underlying problems of power supply.

    This may be difficult given that this directive first came into force in 1988, meaning the UK has had 25 years to make alternative arrangements.

    Another problem is the length of time it will take to build alternative power plants. As it takes about 10 years to build a medium sized nuclear power plant I doubt the EU will allow the UK to ignore EU law for such a long period of time. Especially if these emissions cause problems in other EU countries.

    Reply: More misleading comment. The Didcot power Station A closed recently thanks to the 2001 Large Plants Emissions Directive. The Station had an opt out which has recently expired. Mr Miliband as Energy Secretary in 2009 also said coal stations either need to fit Carbon capture and storage or close owing to their CO2 output. None of this relates back, to Margaret Thatcher’s government, twenty three years ago!

    • Jerry
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      @JR reply: Although totally agreeing with your assessment of uanime5’s comment of course much relates back to MT and her government, first she took Climate Change seriously (one of the first political leaders to do so in the world) and her failure to have more nuclear power stations built even though she was advocating the problems of Climate Change and b/. closing down the UK mining industry whilst knowing that the assured supply of natural gas were limited from the UK’s ‘s own fields (peak reserve). Funny how France managed to do the right thing, even though (or perhaps because of t) it has a tradition of socialist governments…

      Reply MT did not -put through the dear energy legislaiton, and by 2002 was a strong critic of global warming theory.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        @JR: The price of energy is irrelevant to the issue of the lights going out (the subject of your blog…), whilst 2002 was to late, not only had she been out of government for over a decade but the AGW pushers had by then their feet well and truly under the EU’s and UN’s tables and had all but closed the door to any contrary views. This crisis has been brewing for decades, even James Callaghan’s government shares some blame…

    • Mark
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Here is the 1988 Directive:

      and here is a report on UK emissions from DEFRA:

      You can see that the Directive required the UK to cut NOx emissions from existing plants to below 711,000 tonnes per year by 1998, and SO2 to below 1,553,000 tonnes per year by 2003.

      You can also see that these targets were easily met and surpassed before the 2001 Directive was even in existence. The 1988 Directive has had no binding effect requiring the closure of power stations now: rather, it resulted in investment in FGD that cut emissions dramatically.

      Yet another of your re-invented bits of history demolished.

      • stred
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Why on Mother Earth then did DECC decide to go further and halve the CO2 requirement? Perhaps they were just so keen on biomass that noone did the sums?

      • uanime5
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        The report from DEFRA you provides is about pollution from the entire UK (Directive 2001/81/EC) rather than combustion plants with a thermal capacity of 50 MW (Directive 2001/80/EC). As it’s possible for a power plant to exceed the permitted amount of SO2 or NOx even if the UK’s total emissions have been reduced this report can’t be considered proof that all power plants in the UK complied with EU law.

        • Mark
          Posted July 1, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Perhaps you should read the law. It only applies to plants over 50 MW. Given that total UK SO2 emissions are below the Large Plant limit from the 1988 Directive by a comfortable margin, and likewise for NOx, it is clear that the original Directive is not a binding factor causing plant closure now. Only the 2001 Directive addressed plant by plant emissions for existing plants (the 1988 directive imposed limits on new coal plants, but not gas fired ones). The 1988 Directive only set national control totals for emissions.

          You claimed that the 1988 Directive was causing plants to be shut down. That is simply not so.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Being constructive, we need to get fracking urgently, don’t we?

      • Jerry
        Posted June 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        Lindsay McDougall: Not really, first we’ll need enough Gas fired power stations to burn the ‘fracked’ gas, please don’t muddy the waters by trying to put the cart before the horse!… 🙁

        • Mark
          Posted July 1, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          There are plenty of power stations burning imported LNG that can be substituted by domestic production as it builds up. In the shorter term, we need to keep coal capacity open until other capacity can be built. Fortunately, the lead time on CCGT plant is much less than for nuclear or even new coal plant. Given that the UK has had space for over 80GW of conventional capacity, there is no shortage of existing/recent sites – some of them on top of shale gas supplies such as Ince.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

            @Mark: So why is there a shortage in generating capacity looming, try actually reading the blog and what Ofgem are saying…. 🙁

          • Mark
            Posted July 2, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

            There is no shortage of capacity if we keep our coal stations open.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

            @Mark: But UK are not and have been closing such coal fired power stations since the 1980s…

  31. Dan
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    You remain a Cinservative, Mr Redwood, so you are as responsible for this shambles as Ed Davey.

    • Neil Craig
      Posted July 1, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      No he isn’t. He has some responsibility for every Tory policy because he chooses to retain the whip rather than switch to UKIP, but it is nowhere equal to Davy’s responsibility. I’m sure Mr Redwood has considered the costs and benefits of staying a Tory and concluded that, currently it is better to stay overall and reform it from within and in his position that may well be right.

      One could also say that we all share a very small share of responsibility for government policy by (accepting the system ed) but again the benefit may not exceed the risk. When it is necessary to go to war with the government is one of the great questions of political philosophy.

  32. Richard1
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Dear energy isn’t the objective, its the outcome – viewed by the EU, Mr Davey, the political left, the BBC etc – as a necessary evil resulting from the over-riding objective of ‘combating climate change’. Conservatives need to grasp the bull by the horns and question the objective of ‘combating climate change’ which is at the root of this. If its too much to go openly sceptical given all the hot air expended on this, at the very least the Conservatives should announce a root-and-branch review of the science of global warming. We know the original c. 1990 forecasts by the IPCC and other bodies have proven wrong. We need now to get this debate in the open, with sceptical scientists heard and not shouted down. If we really are doomed due to global warming, perhaps deindustrialisation, windfarms, poverty and depopulation are the necessary price of attempted mitigation. If it turns out – as seems to be the case – that we are not in fact doomed, then the whole basis for expensive energy due to renewable subsidies and green regulation falls apart.

  33. NickW
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    There are are a large number of senior European politicians, (many of them French) who would be very happy to see the UK placed at a competitive disadvantage.

    It is time that UK politicians stopped being naive, gullible, and foolish, and pursued the UK’s interests with the same ruthless determination as their continental counterparts.

    As a case in point, the totality of European policy is currently tightly focused on the re-election of Merkel, and the needs of the people of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, and Ireland are totally subservient to Merkel’s wishes and ambitions.

    Nobody should expect Europe to voluntarily help the UK become more competitive; they won’t.

    We need a PM who understands that and acts accordingly, and we don’t have that, and nor do we have the likelihood of it from anyone else of the three main parties, who were unanimous in their adoption of the energy policies which have brought this problem about in the first place.

  34. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    The Greek islands have regular power cuts every afternoon , but unlike us they don’t need warmth with the sun burning down for half the year. Poverty , expensive fuel, and power cuts seem to evoke a mood of ‘ I’m in charge and you will cleave to my demands.’ There are so many types of battles in the power struggle and all are set to dominate the other. A federal Europe?…what a load of tosh!
    What is the situation in Wales?

  35. Chriss
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    John, could you write a short piece on exactly how the balance of power in the cabinet is made up ?

    Does Clegg have a certain number of guaranteed seats in agreed departments and makes the selection of Libdem appointments ? If DC make the appointments, does Clegg then have a veto on his selection ?

    In the case of the Energy job, I suspect the PM is fully signed up to the policy otherwise he would surely have ensured that notice was given to Brussels that special measures to keep the lights on would have been given long ago.

    I also suspect that over many years climate change and green energy enthusiasts have gravitated to jobs in the department and as a result, alternative policies receive little consideration and are routinely briefed against.

    Even if you were given the job, would you be able to get this green supertanker to change direction ?

    Reply One person could not turn this supertanker round on his own as it involves the EU as well as the UK government. PM, Foreign Sec, Deputy PM and Chancellor would all need to engage to allow the Energy Sec to negotiate a derogation and/or legislate in the UK to do what it takes notwithstanding EU rules. I do not think I am about to be offered this job!

  36. Brigham
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    While I think that this government should have got on with building nuclear power stations. I don’t know why we didn’t, I also think we should tell the EU that we will build what form of energy production we wish, and that looking after our population is the number one policy, and they can shove their regulations. If they don’t know where, Cameron should tell them.

  37. Peter Stroud
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    You are right Mr Redwood to insist that the condemned coal fired power stations should be given a few more years in service. But more is needed. Davey, and the other green fanatics must be informed of the scientific work in progress that shows the climate models to be utterly falsified. The CAGW hypothesis is wrong, probably because of faulty assumptions regarding feedback. Not a single model predicted the current temperature hiatus. Furthermore, the famous hockey stick curve has been shown to be meaningless. Even one of ‘the team, Prof Briffa, has produced conflicting results very recently.

    I cannot believe both establishment scientists, and politicians are blaming ‘global warming’ for the seemingly strange weather patterns. There has been no global warming for well over a decade. And a study of official data shows that there is nothing unique about the current weather patterns.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      If the science is wrong why were your unable to provide any evidence to back up your claims. Could it be because you don’t have any evidence to disprove this.

  38. S Matthews
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    The electorate has accepted that Labour didnt manage the economy well, and seems to be accepting the coalition strategy.
    However, a bad winter this year or next, with shortages of power and the electorate will not blame Labour. Its about time Cameron woke up.

  39. Barry Sheridan
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, that we may face self inflicted cuts in electrical supply has little to do with the EU and everything to do with the failure of domestic politicians to construct a rational energy policy. Let us stop making excuses and face up to this fact.

    When I read that Drax was being converted to burn wood imported from the US I could not believe it. Yet this is true, wood burning. Are the people behind this idea mad. Evidently the answer is not only yes, but also indicative that those who have taken charge of this vital need are simply idiots. And I mean that.

  40. Monty
    Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    John, this notion that they have come up with- paying businesses to shut down after normal working hours,- is extremely troubling. It’s going to make the situation of many shift workers absolutely perilous. What is more, it will encourage rather a lot of the remaining manufacturing sector to close their UK operations altogether and relocate abroad.
    This issue is conjuring up memories of the blackouts during the Heath government, it is bound to result in a massive electoral backlash from the age group who remember those days, and the total electoral backlash from all of this could sink the party for a generation.

  41. Grindelow
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I suspect there will never be an independent analysis of how many jobs it will cost the UK or EU from the EU expensive energy policy due to greenwash.

    It must have cost many jobs in Germany see which points out the economy is shrinking because large industrial users are migrating overseas.

    The energy secretary is telling businesses to prepare for reductions in supply. This is s polite way of saying power cuts can be expected.
    Many industrial and many other business processes are reliant on a continuous mains supply but politicians could not be expected to know this. Power cuts therefore are the third world solution that is on offer.

    Perhaps we should expect third world solutions if our electricity supply system is designed by politicians and bureaucrats rather than experienced chartered engineers who understand risk and know what they are doing?

    Businesses that are thinking of expansion will not choose to expand in the UK if they rely on a continuous mains supply. They will have to close and move these operations abroad as the only other choice is to have your own back-up supply which will be very expensive for big users. Some German companies have already done this purely on the basis of high energy costs. An unreliable mains supply is an important extra driver to move operations overseas.

    There is a US report on “The limits of wind power” at

    This report includes the storage such as spinning reserves that are required with wind power to cope with intermittency and fluctuations . As the percentage of wind power increases the problems increase in parallel. The report considers 10% wind power is the “practical” limit. At higher levels there is increased need for storage and decreased grid stability and increased operating costs.

    If you asked UK industries how they feel about future “grid instability” they will not be impressed. Germany has a higher level of wind power and some companies have already had equipment damaged by short term grid fluctuations.

    As ‘The limits of wind power’ and other reports point out offshore wind is twice as expensive as nuclear energy for levelised costs per kWh. China has geared itself up to have a production line for nuclear reactors as it sees itself supplying the world. It is likely to be quicker to supply and therefore cheaper in terms of interest payments than other choices.

    Electricity forms only around 20% of our energy use so the savings in CO2 production overall will be slight at best. Large amounts of gas are used for space and other heating needs in the UK and this is perhaps 40% of UK energy use.

    If the UK replaced this with nuclear power the costs for all businesses would be lower making them far more competitive in EU and world terms and retaining jobs. This type of demand is suited to nuclear power. In addition the savings in CO2 production would be many more times anything you could get from renewable electrical energy. The UK would also be more isolated from the ever rising price of gas which is locked to oil prices in the EU market. As the decades pass the advantage of not being locked to expensive gas prices would become more apparent.
    While real interest rates are negative the UK should be investing in Nuclear Power rather than follow the expensive EU solution.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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