The need for cheaper energy – and to keep the lights on

My contribution to Tuesday’s debate on the Energy and climate change levy:

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): The two questions that the Committee needs to ask when considering this Government proposal are these. Will it will help or hinder the Government in their central task of making sure we have enough power in this country for our future needs? And will it help or hinder what I hope is also the Government’s task, which is to provide value for money and sensibly priced energy, so that we can tackle fuel poverty and have a plentiful supply of reasonably priced energy to fuel the industrial recovery and the general economic recovery that the Government wish to see? My hon. Friends the Members for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams) and for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) made important contributions, but I would like to see whether there is any scope to bring them a bit closer to the Government’s position.

Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman has set out the two objectives that he thinks the Government should have. Is he suggesting that tackling climate change should not be the Government’s objective?

John Redwood: I have made very clear the priorities for myself and my electors. In the situation in which the country finds itself, guaranteeing keeping the lights on and having the power for industry and commerce is a fundamental objective that I take very seriously. I also take seriously the need to ease what Labour used to call “the cost-of-living crisis” to ensure that people have more money to spend for a better lifestyle, so affordable energy is crucial. Those are the priorities I set out for these policies. I think they can be achieved while ensuring that we reduce pollution, which I am very much in favour of. I wish to have sensible environmental policies, but my priorities are security of supply and powering better-paid jobs and more activity, which requires lower energy prices.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): rose—

John Redwood: I willingly give way to the hon. Lady, who always wants to price people out of energy.

Caroline Lucas: I think I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He, like me, would like to see affordable energy, but given that nuclear power is one of the most unaffordable energies and that we are going to lock ourselves into extremely high prices for nuclear into times to come, will he be consistent in his position? If he does not want unaffordable energy, will he also oppose nuclear energy fees?

John Redwood: I have not seen all the figures on what the contract prices might entail, but I entirely agree that I want affordable energy. The advantage of nuclear energy is that it is reliable energy, and the problem with too much wind energy in the system is that it is very unreliable energy. It is therefore very expensive energy because a full range of back-up power is necessary for when the wind is not blowing. That means investing at twice the cost—investing in the wind energy and then in the back-up energy. With nuclear, only one investment needs to be made. The hon. Lady is quite right that it is crucial to get value for money if it is decided to lock into a nuclear contract.

Caroline Flint (Don Valley) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman may be aware that the interim report of the Competition and Markets Authority pointed out in June that customers on the standard variable tariffs are providing the big six energy companies with an extra £1 billion a year on account of over-charging? If he is concerned about the cost of energy, as I am, does he not agree that it is disgraceful that since that report we have heard nothing from the Government about how they are going to tackle this over-charging of some of the most vulnerable customers paying their electricity and gas bills today?

John Redwood: I have no more time than the right hon. Lady for over-charging vulnerable customers. I, too, look forward to an informed and sensible response to the report she mentioned. I do not think, however, that it is very relevant to the levy and the tax change that we are debating here today. The issue before us is whether this change to the levy will make it more difficult to keep the lights on and more difficult to deliver cheaper energy. I do not think it does, but the Government need to respond to the other crucial issues posed by my hon. Friends the Members for Selby and Ainsty and for Brigg and Goole.

Given that the margins are now extremely tight—in view of the huge reduction in traditional capacity that we have experienced, some people are pessimistic about the next two or three winters—can the Government do more, and do it cheaply and sensibly, at the same time as making the levy change? That should ensure that the great power stations we still have available can be either kept in the system and running to provide more power—preferably base load power, but it may have to be variable power, given how the thing is now run—or at least be kept available on standby. We may have to pay a price for that as part of that guarantee of supply. The three power stations we have heard about from colleagues this evening are part of the possible answer. We need to know that there is a future for traditional stations and that they can be priced into the system while we are in this period of transition, trying to work out what a modern electricity generation system will look like in five or 10 years’ time.

Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty) (Con): Will not this change in the levy, which is being made so quickly and with so little much notice—28 days—make things extremely difficult for generators such as Drax, and will not the likelihood of capacity that is safe for us all be greatly reduced over the next couple of years?

John Redwood: My hon. Friend has made a powerful case in defence of Drax. I hope that discussions are taking place between the Government and Drax about how Drax can continue to make a contribution and the Government’s intention—which I will be supporting this evening—can be preserved. I think it entirely possible to change the levy while also coming up with a solution for Drax.

Many people wondered about the advantage of switching from coal to wood, and about whether that was what quite what we wanted to do as part of a so-called decarbonisation strategy. Perhaps there is a better answer, but I return to my original proposition: I want an answer that will keep the lights on and provide the best possible value for money, and I think that there needs to be more discussion between the Energy Department and the big power stations to meet those two aims.

What I liked about the Minister’s opening remarks was his constant stress on the importance of value for money. That must be what drives Government policy. We want the productivity improvements that are now coming through. It is remarkable how, when Labour Members complain about something, that nearly always transforms it for the better. They complained about the cost-of-living crisis, and energy prices collapsed. Then they complained about the lack of productivity growth, and productivity started to take off. We are very grateful to them for those wrong calls, which seem to provide the stimulus that we need in order to create a better world; but if we are to drive productivity forward, providing more and cheaper power is crucial, because many modern processes, particularly in industry, are very energy-intensive.

The danger of some of the policies that have been followed by the European Union and by the last Labour Government is that we price ourselves out of energy-intensive industries—not in a way that spares the planet the carbon dioxide that those processes generate, but in a way that simply drives the businesses to another part of the world. No one should be happy about that. Those who believe that the fundamental priority is cutting carbon dioxide must take a global view; they cannot take a parochial, single-country view. Again, those whose main concern, like mine, is the prosperity and wellbeing of the British people cannot be happy if the decarbonisation policy has worked in one country, but has produced an equal or bigger amount of carbon dioxide somewhere else because the jobs and the industry have simply been transferred. That makes no sense whatsoever.

My hon. Friend the Minister will have my support—and, I am sure, that of many Conservative Members—if this proposal is tested shortly in the Lobbies, but we see it as only one part of a much bigger picture. We believe that if it is to work in removing the anomaly between different types of power and allowing some power from overseas to benefit, we must ensure that other elements of the policy mix are able to deal with the fundamental issues of supply, availability and value for money in the power system.

What the Government must do—and what they are beginning to do in a way that is shocking some Opposition Members—is revisit the huge cat’s cradle of subsidies, environmental tax, environmental tax breaks and rules which are extremely complicated, and which may, indeed, be having perverse consequences. They may be driving carbon dioxide-generating business out of this country while not cutting the global totals; they may be jeopardising our security of supply; they may be making it more difficult to deliver what we wish to do for, in particular, lower-income consumers who find current energy prices very challenging; and they are obviously in danger of undermining important, big, traditional investments in this country that could serve us better for longer if they were not driven out of business by environmental controls emanating from previous Governments and, particularly, from the European Union.

I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to justify the support of our party for this one element by reminding us that it must be part of a bigger picture, and that that bigger picture must be driven by a more rational policy that can deliver both the security of supply and the cheaper energy that the United Kingdom needs.

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  1. Mick Anderson
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    JR: Thank you for putting what I would have wished to say so eloquently.

    • Edward2
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I agree entirely with you Mick.

  2. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Any mention of Jeremy Corbyn’s reported plan to open the coal mines again ? That would produce both very expensive and very polluting energy – Caroline Lucas should attack that policy first.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Well it would be less expensive than the daft Green party suggestions such as offshore wind and fields of PV cells in the cloudy UK. Plus we already have the coal generators built.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Interesting that Caroline Lucas resorts to attacking re power companies’ margins and nuclear, that old bête noir of greens instead of tackling head on the issue: she and other green fanatics believe it is desirable that energy should be expensive, that people should have lower living standards and industry be priced out of business because it lessens the greater evil, in their minds, of global warming. The Greens used to have the courage of their convictions on this, but seem now to be hiding behind more conventional leftist attacks on nuclear and energy companies.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Very well put, if rather too gentle and understated.

    What global warming? It is a best a huge exaggeration and absurd religion. The temperature of the World has been remarkably stable in historical terms and has not risen at all in the last 17 years despite the increases c02. The evidence historically is that a little warmer is, on balance, preferable for humans anyway.

    Wind (onshore and especially offshore), PV and burning wood are absurdly expensive ways to generate electricity even before their intermittent nature and back up is considered. These pushes the costs up even further energy storage is hugely expensive too.

    Clearly exporting jobs and co2 production is idiotic even in the C02 devil gas religion terms.

    The cats cradle of taxes & subsidies is idiotic and hugely damaging to jobs, the poor and general standards and living. It is also doing nothing for the environment.

    Get Owen Patterson, Peter Lilley, Nigel Lawson types back and employ some numerate engineers to sort out this totally irrational mess. We should eradicate this co2 devil gas exaggeration of religion. There is no reason scientifically to suggest runaway catastrophic global warming is remotely likely. The greencrap suggestions proposed do not even work in C02 terms anyway.

    Also stop propagating this quack science and religion in schools, the exam system and on the BBC.

    • Hefner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Of your three heroes, only Lilley has a degree in Natural Scinces and worked in a job related to energy (energy analyst at the City of London). Owen Patterson has a degree in History then went to the National Leathersellers College, Nigel Lawson is one of your beloved PPE graduates. Then all three became MPs..

      And otherwise, you should ask that the next swarm of spads to advise Ministers are taken among numerate engineers. Will you?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        I never suggested all graduates of English, PPE, History etc. are lacking in numeracy, understanding & sense, even if it is like belief in many religions often a good indication.

        After all we have JR, David Starkey, Tony Abbott, Lawson, James Dellingpole, Owen Patterson and very many more, even some lawyers like Nick Budgen.

        I am not very sure I would want to fly on a aeroplane or cross a bridge they had designed and built though.

        Reply Some of us have studied other subjects after graduating. Education does not end when you are 20 or 21.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          Still it would preferable to anything build by the greens.

        • Peter Stroud
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          LifeIogic, agree with you. I am a retired physicist and I am very sceptical of the climate change science that drives the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) case. But I cannot claim to understand much of the science used in the complex computer models. My scepticism is based on the fact that at least one major building block used in all models, namely the positive feedback parameter, is assumed: I.e. guessed. So as such doesn’t satisfy the degree of rigour usually associated with science that is germane to significant policy considerations. Also, I am worried that the models are not able to even hind cast global temperatures. Finally I worry at the complete lack of a quantitative theory as to where all the greenhouse gas energy has gone having not increased global, mean surface temperatures for nearly two decades. A sceptic does not need to be a climate scientist to harbour these doubts. Any intelligent, sensible, curious lay person can have every reason to doubt CAGW.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:03 am | Permalink

            Indeed. On might have rather more confidence with they could just predict the weather in a weeks time reliably.

          • stred
            Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            This summer, I had planted a garden in the Westcountry and tried to use the Met Office forecasts when depressions were coming in along the south of England to see whether I needed to water the plants and take a short holiday. The forecast was wrong every day for weeks. This was despite the fact that they had recently bought a very expensive super computer. Now they want to buy an even bigger one. The number of input measurements runs into millions but chaos takes its course and they just get more accurate mistakes.

          • Hefner
            Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

            Nice try, but wrong.
            Please see what climate sensivity (and linked to it the feedback parameter) is and how it is defined, can be established from palaeoclimate observations, and can also be obtained (not specified) from climate model simulations:


        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          No clearly it does not, nevertheless the subjects anyone chooses to study at university do rather tend to indicate how/if you think or whether you are mainly a memory regurgitation box or even a belief without any evidence, religious person.

          From Performing Arts and Languages perhaps at one end of the scale to perhaps Advanced Maths, Physics and Computer studies at the other. All the BBC, lefty actor types at one end to Richard Feynman, Freeman Dyson, Einstein types at the other. Clearly the world benefits from both. But perhaps not when designing energy systems or bridges.

          • Richard1
            Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

            Is this really a relevant argument? That the subjects someone studied 30 or 40 years ago either qualify or disqualify them from offering a view on a subject? It has recently been asserted that the Pope – who’s views on ‘climate change’ seem to be as irrational as his presumed views on (other matters ed) – is somehow qualified to speak about global warming because he sat a course in chemistry in his youth! Most people by the age of 50 struggle to remember what they studied let alone anything about it. Let’s focus on whether politicians offer intelligent, rational analysis, not on whether they sat or didn’t sit a particular O level A level or even degree decades ago.

      • Ted Monbiot
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Of the famous “97% of all scientitsts” who say they agree global warming is man made only a few of them are acually climate specialists.
        And the figure of 97% has been reported as being wrongly calculated.

        However I do not see why having or not having a specific degree should render you unable to look at the data that is made public and conclude its a very poor theory.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Indeed the specific degree is far from conclusive. But the fact that you chose that degree often indicates quite a lot I find. Is it mainly a learning facts, names and dates subject or a learning to think and actually understand subject.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    How does that alleged £1 billion of “over-charging” by energy companies compare with the total additional cost loaded into customers as a result of government policy?

    • Mark
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      350TWh of power at say 12 p/kWh is worth £42bn. 2.7Tcf of gas charged out at £1/therm is a further £27bn (domestic prices are higher). We are awaiting the study commissioned by Amber Rudd that will look at the true cost of renewables – including the hidden subsidies in reduced grid connection charges, and backup capacity. To judge from work I’ve seen elsewhere, the result will be devastating to the renewables industry. We know that onshore wind attract a CFD price of £95/Mwh, offshore £155/MWh, while current market prices have been below £40/MWh (but will rise when coal capacity shuts).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:05 am | Permalink

        Indeed, the agenda is complete nonsense.

      • Hefner
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        Another take on the topics is a look (by various City analysts) at the prospects of companies like National Grid, Centrica, SSE, DRAX, Infinis Energy, The German RWE, Renewable Energy Generation, Amec Forster Wheeler, WS Atkins, Babcock International, Balfour Beatty, Weir, Royal Dutch Shell, or British Gas.
        This might be as interesting as (more ) interesting as (than) what happened in the HofC, and of possibly more impact on one’s pension pot.

        • Mark
          Posted September 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          City analysts spend their time trying to forecast government energy policy. Few of them are attuned to engineering issues, preferring to follow Green politics – especially since now so much money is made from “carbon” trading. Perhaps when their computers get blacked out they’ll think again.

  5. Ian wragg
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Gideon is wedded to tax, spend borrow and waste so he needs all the revenue he can get. The carbon tax is instrumental in shutting down base load cheap power stations. We are due for blackouts due to the rank stupidity of your and the previous governments deluded energy non policy.
    As I type the windmill over the road stands arms akimbo supplying precisely zero energy but no doubt letting the landowner live an elegant life.
    The subsidies paid for this nonsense is as bad as the Barons taxes in the time of Robin Hood.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Less than zero energy as it cost energy to build and install.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Quite right. If people could see for themselves the destruction on a vast scale that goes on when ploughing up the land for a wind farm they would be flabbergasted. We have a wind farm being erected opposite our home (2km away thank God) and I was out walking our dogs the other day. I could not believe how much ground was being destroyed for a single turbine and they have another 9 to go in. The operational wind farm on the opposite hill is often either turned off because there is too much wind on the grid or because it is too windy and they receive massive subsidies for doing nothing. In one single month they received over £1m to SWITCH OFF. This is madness. In the meantime many power stations are finding it is not profitable to run intermittently and are shutting down. The infrastructure for all of this has run into billions and the whole European project has cost a vast fortune. Many countries, Germany in particular, have found that renewables just don’t do the job and are slowly going back to using fossil fuels for reliability. Denmark is the latest country to turn to coal.

        We must stop listening to the likes of Caroline Lucas who would have us all revert to the stone age if she could and start to adopt a more realistic approach to our energy supplies. It is immoral that the poor have to pay for the rich to get richer! I am paying for my neighbour’s electricity through my bill which is big enough now. All this global warming stuff is total bilge. Money making bilge for some but putting jobs and people’s lives at risk. Fracking and nuclear is the way to go and we have wasted enough money now. Well done John in your efforts to sway the government into a more rational mode. Let’s get some intelligent engineers in to advise the government and not those with a degree in nonsense with a vested monetary interest.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          I drove through France recently and it was teaming with huge, expensive, stationary, wind turbines.

          • Hefner
            Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

            Funny, I did a similar trip mid-August from Calais (E17) down to Troyes, then (A6) to Lyons, (A7) to Orange, then (E15) to Montpellier, and back last week, and all the wind turbines (well 90-95 %) in the wind parks I saw were in both occasions nicely rotating.
            Really funny, “no one is more blind than who does not want to see”. Or sensing that you were coming, they just stopped whirling in fear of spoiling your preconceived ideas!

          • stred
            Posted September 12, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            I did the same trip as Hefner to Perpignan then back via Dordogne and Rouen and some windmills were rotating and a lot weren’t. The average capacity is apparently 20-25%re Wiki

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Ian ,

      It may contain electric motors which are drawing power from the grid to keep the blades rotating almost imperceptibly slowly .

      This would be to stop the weight of the blades flat spotting the rolling element bearings which support them .

      If the blades are not being driven by an electric motor , it might be interesting to note where the blades have come to rest .
      If the blades usually end up coming to rest in the same place then they have probably become gone of balance since they were installed .

      • Ian wragg
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Simon it’s called Brinneling. I work in the renewable power industry and it’s a complete scam. It’s designed to bankrupt the masses to fund the gentry.
        Little short of piracy.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        all the large turbines have electric motors to start them up when they have been switched off and also to run them when it is very cold and a risk of ice. Ice on the blades is very damaging and dangerous because of ice throw. So, to add insult to injury they take power from the grid as well as earning a great deal of money the rest of the time. They are also switched off as I said earlier if there is too much power on the grid and they are not needed, then attracting an obscene subsidy at a price that most wind farm developers dictated on their terms. When coal fired power stations or gas get asked to turn off they do get a payment but not on the same scale but they have to pay back the cost of the fuel they would have used if they had been running. Hardly a fair playing field.

  6. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Worthington and her friend from the FOE on BBC R4 today counter you largely along with Harrabin the expert. Was that reporting biased/twisted or what? UK shale gas is verboten and CCS has to counter climate change. Climate is not changing in any threatening way and bottling up CO2 is costly and futile.

    Monkton monthly:

    With the EU we experience frequent major problems that are not foreseen nor adequately solved. Energy security and cost is a significant problem that the EU fails to address repeatedly. So, is that we have to ultimately rely on their inter-connectors and some wood from the Carolinas? New nuke is slowly turning into No nuke.

    800,000+ more bodies to heat etc and Junker kissing a bald head..WTF?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Still it was good to hear from Junker telling us that the migrants are “people”. What did he think we thought they were I wonder? Why on earth did he think we needed to be told this in his slow, serious, tone, as if addressing some dim 5 year old’s?

    • Mark
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Does the Electoral Commission note the hours the BBC devotes to Green propaganda?

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Caroline Lucas is pleasant enough (certainly relative to her rather bitter boss Natalie Bennett) but do we want our energy policy guided by people with a PhD in Elizabethan literature from the University of Exeter with a thesis entitled Writing for Women: a study of woman as reader in Elizabethan romance?

    Might we not be rather better off with a numerate engineer or physics from Cambridge or similar? Someone with at least a grasp of the real issues. Should we be led by essentially a religious leaders or some real scientist and engineers?

    Seeing the fire on the BA plane in Vegas (which had it happened just a few seconds later could well have killed all on board) I cannot help thinking that no one would want to fly planes designed by graduates of English so why on earth do we want these types to influence our energy production?

    Many of these types even get confused over the units for energy and power and the meaning of “positive feedback”, they basically have not got a clue. The BBC is full of them. Furthermore there catastrophic climate predictions and energy/oil predictions (designed to scare, over tax and garner votes) have been proved wrong time and again by the real world, real reserves and real measurements. Oil, coal and gas are all very cheap currently let’s use them to build the economy and keep the elderly warms.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Did these soothsayers and profits of doom (many now in the Lords) not claim oil would run out before 2000 or similar?

      Prince Charles in March 2009 even said – 100 months to save the world. So only a couple of years left then!

      The Royal Family are still using helicopters and Ranger Rovers though I notice.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        “prophets” but also vast profits for those in on the huge diversion of tax payers money into private pockets and excuse for yet more taxes on the productive.

        It is a huge distortion and damaging of the energy market signals.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Well you wouldn’t want them to be taken to the nearest A & E when they need a heart stent would you, they would likely die then like the rest of us, the helicopters do a good job of making sure they can be selective which hospitals they use, and if its NHS it will be the best in that speciality

        I hope the monarchy comes crashing down pretty much as soon as the present Queen dies

        • A different Simon
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

          Ian Gill ,

          Yep , Queen Elizabeth II is a star performer . No doubt about that .

          On that occasion the hereditary principle worked massively in our favour .

          ( says he is not so sure about her son ed)

          • Lifelogic
            Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

            Charles should listen to his parents, stop pushing green drivel, catastrophic warming drivel and homeopathy and keep out of politics if he has any sense.

            He is one of the last people who should lecture people on being green.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        Yes, as are all the luvvies in the film industry who keep encouraging this crap. It’s ok for them. Their lifestyle doesn’t change. They can afford to keep using private jets, lounging in big houses and driving big cars. They can also afford to move out of Europe. Lucky them!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          And they get 25% film subsidy from Osborne stolen of other productive people no doubt.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–Don’t get carried away with your views against Oxford, old chap–I refer to your “Cambridge or similar”, which was a bit unnecessary.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        I was of course referring to Caltec, Princeton, Cornell …. Nothing wrong with Oxford apart from most of the PPE lot (and the Lawyers) of course.

    • Ted Monbiot
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Maybe we should close down oil gas and coal as well on similar safety ground worries, because many more people have died due to those industries than have ever died in producing nuclear power.
      Many brave miners and gas and oil rig workers have lost their lives over the deades yet we see these fuels as safe.
      Renewables could produce 20 or 30 per cent but unless there is a huge technological breakthrough it will not be much more.
      I find it odd that the loudest arguers for a CO2 free energy furure are also totally against any nuclear.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Hydro (with their dams) is surprisingly dangerous too.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Tens of thousands die prematurely currently due to cooking and heating by burning wood.
        Thousands of miners have died in mine accidents.
        Thousands have died exploring for oil and gas.
        Prior to the 1963 clean air act in the uk tens of thousands died from the effects of coal smog every year.
        Yet we all think nuclear is more dangerous.
        The number killed by nuclear to dste is just a few hundred.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        But it didn’t.
        My point was that providing the energy to power our civilisation is a risky business.
        Our perceptions regarding the numbers killed in that process often put nuclear at the top of their list but non nuclear sources have killed far more.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Mercia – We should not conflate the desire to close nuclear reactors for safety reasons with the desire to close power stations to reduce carbon emissions.

      If our standard of living is to be maintained then energy needs must be met. If nuclear is to be closed down then realistic (perhaps dirty) alternatives need to be considered.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        HAVE to be considered.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Such as what?
        You are hoping some clever engineers will come up with a solution.
        They are working on it but at the moment battery technology, wind, wave and solar will not power our planet.
        And thats just electric.
        How do you power cars, lorries, boats, planes, ships, trains, construction equipment and agricultural equipment etc
        which need liquid fuels?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      The 90% of scientists claim is drivel unless you only look at some of those seeking government funding.

  8. agricola
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Very well put. This sheer incompetence of Labour and the EU is beyond explanation. The unseen but ever present lobby of the civil service are just as culpable for encouraging government down such a route. As the third and permanent force in British politics, should not their advice go real time public so that it too can be scrutinised and challenged. It has cost us dearly on many fronts, and unchallenged will continue to do so.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Completely unchallenged .

      They continue to reaffirm their commitment to the Bryony Worthington’s “Climate Change Act” which Ed Miliband sponsored .

      So it is no exaggeration to say that our energy policy has been decided by green peace and rubber stamped by parliament .

      (Now Baroness) Bryony Worthington is Labour’s shadow energy minister is saying UK shale gas should only be developed if co2 emissions from gas powerstations are sequestered underground :-

      On the one hand we have the modern Conservative party which will not contemplate anything new in the field of economics and wedded to strengthening the status quo .

      On the other we have a Labour party which has the opportunity to shed it’s legacy and start afresh with a completely clean sheet , unconstrained by conventional but is unable to stay within the bounds of reality .

      • Mark
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Has the “worthy” Baroness considered the potential for CO2 sequestration a) to cause earthquakes when done in large volume, and b) to cause disasters when it leaks from underground, such as that at Lake Nyos in the Cameroons?

  9. Anonymous
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Here is another subject on which mass immigration is key but wasn’t mentioned. It is obviously still a subject to be avoided if at all possible among Parliamentarians. Ruled out because it is still too dirty a topic and the Left still dictate what can and can’t be discussed.

    Clearly the rising population impacts on energy consumption and should cause a reversal in energy policy. But it didn’t even get mentioned.

    If we can’t talk about it where it is relevent then we can’t cope with it.

    For this reason I think it is all too late and that tbe UK is finished. Blackouts within the next five years, a rapid rise in homelessness and public facilities turned over to housing refugees temporarily. I also forsee bewildering demographic change and unrest.

    Clearly the number of UK consumers (increasing rapidly) affects energy consumption. Take these points:

    “To ensure that people have more money to spend for a better lifestyle, so affordable energy is crucial. Those are the priorities I set out for these policies. I think they can be achieved while ensuring that we reduce pollution, which I am very much in favour of.”

    More money to spend, a better lifestyle and pollution reduction are all entirely incompatible with uncontrolled immigration. Especially where most migrants are economic and here to increase their ability to be able to consume.

    We could probably meet emission targets without too much impact without such a rapidly increasing population.

    Politicians are still unable to talk about this issue freely even where it has brought a new urgency to energy provision and the need for a reversal of policy – else we are to face a precipitous decline in living standards within very short time, which I think we will.

    This is going to happen under your government. There’s not a lot you can do about it.

    Reply I support the government’s policy of making a substantial reduction to inward migration as set out in the election. I will not be repeating this in every article.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      As for transfer of production (with carbon emissions) to the far east.

      If the west is going to be hamstrung by emission targets and health and safety costs wouldn’t it be ethical to impose tariffs on high output countries until they meet the same standards, including the abolition of slave labour ?

      “This would impact on the cost of living here”

      Would it ?

      Clearly we are subsidising ‘cheap’ goods with welfare and credit here and a blind eye to the environment and cruelty there.

      On balance I think we’d have been better off without this – and our consumption more realistically aligned to our true worth.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply:

      We are getting Ms Lucas’s agenda to the hilt. Not John Redwood’s.

      She gets her mass immigration and she gets her power stations closed.

      “Ms Lucas. Your party demands that we increase the population whilst closing power stations. Might you consider reversing that policy, in view of the fact that immigration is going up ?”

      That no-one but Nigel Farage dare pose such a question means that Ms Lucas also gets to control the debate.

      That you don’t mention immigration in every article is not nearly so important as the fact that it could not be mentioned in this debate. Not even in reasonable tones purely about numbers.

      Immigration should be mentioned whenever it is relevent. And in projecting energy usage it most certainly is.

      Reply I raised migration numbers with the PM this week in the House.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for raising immigration with the PM.

        But Ms Lucas deserved the biggest coach and horses to be driven through her conflicting ideals.

        She cannot reasonably demand carbon cuts AND mass immigration. Yet that is precisely what is being delivered by the Government.

        Ms Lucas should join the Tory party ! She’d leap frog all the back benchers to the Cabinet in a thrice !

        • Lifelogic
          Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:11 am | Permalink

          With the current Tory leadership you are probably right she would.

    • Dennis
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Reducing the level of inward migration does not reduce population so more energy is required.

      Increase of population means increased CO2 production so per capita CO2 emissions
      must decrease to conform to the limits set for 2030 and 2050. How will this be achieved?

  10. turbo terrier
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Very well said John. I just hope that some if not all of the members were listening.

    Sadly I feel some (if not a lot) still do not fully understand the whole problem of secure, efficient energy.

    With a debt running at £1.5trillion and rising the Minister has got to go much further and give valuable support to the Chancellor by stopping all of the cats cradle handouts that you mentioned now.

    The sooner all this madness is stopped the sooner the country can start to encourage new business and help the millions in fuel debt and poverty. Why on earth has the Minister decided to have April as a cut off point begs belief it is after the next winter period?

    Common sense dictates that that the guillotine should have been operated long before winter sets in, this is the time when the developers and energy companies can harvest massive revenues from constraint payments.

    As I have mentioned before the only fair way is to set a non negotiable benchmark:

    If your project be it solar, wind, tidal or bo mass is not completed before the onset of winter and is fully operational and intergrated within the National Grid then it will receive no handouts, if completed it will have to survive on its own capabilities ie internal funding. There are far too many installations running with a licence to print money for the next 20 odd years without any real need to provide the power that they predicted at the planning stage.

    The Minister say’s she is worried about the investors, she should be more worried about the impact on the people who helped put the government into power and in that I include both industrial, non domestic and domestic energy users. This road show has come to the final performance.

  11. JimS
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    A simple concept that all MPs should know about is ‘energy density’ or the amount of energy that can be got from a kilogram of fuel.

    As our society has advanced it has made use of ever more dense energy sources, allowing us to make such things as ‘lighter-than-air’ flying machines.

    Coal, for instance, is a million times more energy dense than (moving) air, which is why we progressed from ‘Windy’ Miller to the ‘Dark Satanic Mills’ and why it is a regression to install wind farms.

    • Hefner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Yeah … and in the list of potential fuels sorted out by decreasing energy density, one gets:
      Uranium, and three or four other radioactive elements, compressed hydrogen, methane, various combustible products derived from oil, ethanol, and only after that coal.
      And there is quite a difference between the potential energy density and what can be extracted, if possible safely and economically.

      So there is a need to balance various terms when considering an energy policy, I might think, most of this balancing act being far beyond of the grasp of laymen (and women), but certainly not of MPs taking further education with the Open University.
      As Lifelogic says, let’s (open-minded) scientists tackle the problem. Unfortunately, the range of possible solutions might not please everybody on this blog.

      One of the things, which has not appeared here is why the UK has never embraced nuclear energy as some other countries like France did. I don’t think it was because of a strong Green Party (practically not existing in the 1960s, 70s, 80s). I don’t think it was by lack of clever scientists and engineers, more likely because the coal-oil-(and now gas) lobby was able since the 1960s to influence the various Governments and more or less dictate the subsequent energy policies.

      Building a nuclear power plant from scratch takes at least five, more likely 8 to 10 years. So how much we cry for more nuclear energy, it will not solve the (possible) “next winters’ blackouts”. ( Anyway, the officers at The National Grid are likely to be clever enough to minimise those).

      So we might now just be reaping the fruits of 40 years of near-sighted policies.

  12. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Maybe it’s time to start scaremongering about the prospect of global cooling. OK, so there may be no real proof that we will face a period of significantly lower temperatures any more than there is any real proof of the opposite, there being no sufficiently reliable climatological theory, but we could invent all kinds of possible disastrous consequences of global cooling, scare the pants off everybody and then invoke the precautionary principle – OK, even if there are some residual uncertainties with the predictions, is it worth taking the risk? – and so force the politicians to act to try to stop it. Perhaps we could even get it all locked in through international treaties, so that normal national democracy would in effect be suspended in that regard. And if it seemed that average global temperatures were not actually falling as we had predicted, that could easily be solved by constantly adjusting or “correcting” the temperature records to produce the apparent cooling we needed to keep the fear going. Of course that wouldn’t be proper science, but then current government policy is not based on proper science either, whatever may be claimed.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Denis – challenging what is now an entrenched religious dogma won’t work.

      Far better to be direct with them about an obvious contradition:

      Ms Lucas. How do you reduce our carbon footprint whilst simultaneously increasing our population ? Don’t you think it unfair on both immigrants and the host population to demand the closure of power stations AND mass immigration ?

      Whatever the Tory manifesto what’s happening here is far more like her agenda than John Redwood’s.

      If the BBC and much of the press is anything to go by in the treatment of greenism and the refugee crisis the EU referendum is going to be very skewed indeed.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Dear Denis–I long ago tuned out anything to do with temperatures, the discussions on which are a variation on Much Ado About Nothing, certainly nothing or rather anything that has been proved. Big puzzle to me that the green people don’t switch to talking about the rising acidity of the seas which can be, and has been proved to be, a problem–falling pH (easy to measure–essentially just stick litmus paper in the sea) killing our seafood by dissolving their (calcareous) shells, which would be my idea of serious. Another puzzle is how one can read so much worried blurb on Nuclear (vide supra) without a word on Thorium, which is as I remember safer but not suitable for WMD which latter is the only reason why the Thorium route was not followed in the early days. We should start again.

  13. Bert Young
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Availability and cost are the key ingredients to energy supply ; manufacturers and consumers of all types have to rely on a dependable economic source for them to survive in a highly competitive world . This is a long term problem that has to be pursued by whichever Government holds the reins – switching from one political side to another and changing priorities is the worst thing that can happen .

    It is one thing to have an inconsistent approach in this country ; it is only compounded by interference from the outside bureaucracy of the EU . The school run I take with my child now has a huge solar panel field near Wallingford ; not far away is the now defunct Didcot Power station ; is this an intended substitution ? is it cost effective ? – it is ,to say the least , an ugly blot on what was a beautiful landscape .

    • turbo terrier
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink


      The solar field is only there for the cat cradle sudsidies.

    • Hefner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      When walking the Ridgeway, to say that Didcot power station contributes to a beautiful landscape is quite an statement!

      • Mark
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        Every time I come over the top of the Chilterns on the M40 and see the cooling towers of Didcot – or when I worked nearby at Harwell many years ago – I think about how most of its output was dedicated to the fusion research facilities at Culham whenever they were running an experiment. It was providing the power to research the future.

  14. Colin Hart
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Loddon
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Is it true that Poland and Germany have built several new coal-fired power stations in recent years as I have heard? I also heard a question in the House a while ago about the new coal-fired power stations that have been built in Sweden, though they apparently are using the fluidised bed combustion process that was researched here in the UK at Grimethorpe before being inexplicably abandoned. That technique had the potential benefit of dramatically improving performance of the combustion process, leading to greater economy whilst at the same time reducing harmful emissions which could be captured during the process and prevented from reaching the atmosphere.

    Is this another example of the UK being the only country in the EU, if not the world, taking the question of global warming and pollution really seriously and taking decisions detrimental to our own economy while other countries pay lip service but carry on regardless with their selfish policies?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      The UK’s emissions are comparatively low compared to those larger countries like Indian and China.

      Yes, it is true that Germany is frantically building around 20 new coal fired power stations and that Denmark is the latest country to do so, turning their backs on wind farms at last because it has failed to do what they all wanted it to and were told it would do by those set to gain millions from it. Wind and solar have done nothing to alter CO2 emissions because we have to have continuous back up from our good old fossil fuelled power stations. Without them we would be doomed.

    • turbo terrier
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink


      Is this another example of the UK being the only country in the EU, if not the world, taking the question of global warming and pollution really seriously and taking decisions detrimental to our own economy while other countries pay lip service but carry on regardless with their selfish policies?

      You have got it in one

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, this is nice, isn’t it?

    “Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland face EU threat on asylum”

  17. English Pensioner
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    What I find appalling is that we were once world leaders in nuclear energy but now are content to leave it to others.
    Both China and India are looking at Thorium reactors which it is claimed are clean and don’t produce radioactive waste. Why aren’t we getting involved? Why is this generation of politicians not trying to push Britain ahead in technology rather than relying on others?
    We were once leaders in railways (we build many of the railways around the world), we had the first supersonic passenger aircraft (Concorde) and we were among the first to build nuclear power stations. Now we leave it all to others.
    If we want to survive outside the EU, we’ve got to be able to offer the best and the latest in technology and engineering. So lets start with nuclear power stations. This country seems to have lost all confidence in itself.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Yes, the money invested in renewables should have been put into research of thorium nuclear which is safe and clean. This could provide cheap and reliable power for centuries to come. But no, our governments listened to the green garbage and now we find ourselves in a dire situation regarding our power supplies. Has anyone noticed the climate improving with all the renewables? No, thought not and it won’t. What a waste of our money and what a tragedy for all the wildlife and landscapes that have been ruined in the process.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      “This country seems to have lost all confidence in itself.”

      Exactly . That is one of the first casualties when you give away your right to self government .

    • turbo terrier
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink


      Actually we are trying to be world leaders in renewable green technology.

      If for one nano second you really think that could be true would it not have made sense for British companies to be designing and manufacturing turbines, solar and other RE equipment?

      • turbo terrier
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink


        Don’t always believe what the leaders always say. Since the advent of the Climate Change Act they have all abdicated responsibility and let the RE/CC disciples run the programme

    • Mark
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      Were we to master fusion power the resource unlocked would last humanity until the earth is swallowed by the expansion of the sun into a supergiant.

      • stred
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        Fusion seems to always be 50 years away. The trouble is it is too hot to contain and get the heat out without materials melting. There was an article in Nature a few months ago by a leader of the European collaboration, which indicated lack of progress. On the other hand a number of countries are developing small modular conventional nuclear and these should be factory produced at less cost and available before the late and expensive French failure.

  18. oldtimer
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Thank you for making those points so clearly. Many in the HoC still seem trapped in false and arrogant group think about “climate change” – false because the evidence offered is unsoundly based, arrogant because it presume that man can predict control the forces of nature.

  19. Atlas
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Well put John.

    As somebody with a scientific and electrical engineering background I am struggling to understand how the lights will not go out this winter if we have a cold windless snap?

    I think ‘no lights’ may not go down well with the electorate.

    • bigneil
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Most of the govt don’t give a **** about the electorate. They are more concerned in the welfare of illegally here foreigners – -and putting them in hotels at our expense. Good job it’s not TB being “tough on crime – tough on the causes of crime” – -because THAT would be laughable wouldn’t it.

      PS John – how much time is wasted each year calling each other “honourable” when clearly – a lot are definitely NOT.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Atlas – The lights going out was deemed to have been symbolic of our economic nadir before Margaret Thatcher saved us. Rightly so. We are told we were a basket case and brought back from the brink by her reforms.

      Failure to provide electricity and the lights going out is seen as a tipping point of economic and cultural significance. A civilisation on the slide towards oblivion.

      Again – it is the Left in control of the switches. How has this been allowed to happen ? The Tories have been in office for five years, for goodness sakes !

  20. Iain Gill
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Well said John. If a little too tame. I am afraid if it was me I would be screaming this at them. Moving industrial processes to India and China does nothing to reduce world pollution, quite the reverse. And that’s all that happens when the rules are tightened here more processes move abroad.

  21. Shieldsman
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Converting Drax to wood burning has achieved nothing even the green blob admit that, to stay in business it must rely on subsidy paid for by the consumer.

    New nuclear as currently planned will be expensive and there are doubts about the design. Later designs could be cheaper to build and safer. Whilst past and current nuclear plants produced reliable energy there is still the legacy of waste disposal and cost.

    Subsidising and paying for unwanted electricity from unconnected windfarms in the north of Scotland was down to the departed LibDem Davey. The Western Link will not be completed until next year, so they should not have been connected to the Grid. Offshore wind also presents transmission problems with high construction costs.

    The dream of 24/7/365 renewable energy is still not practical engineering and for the foreseeable future power will be reliant on fossil fuel generation, so why pay twice per unit.

    Combined cycle gas turbine electricity generation is the most efficient and least polluting (CO2). With the possibility fracking being a cheap gas source this remains one of the best options for electricity.

    There is no point in blaming the big six energy companies, Labour government introduced the Climate Change Act and the DECC is responsible for costs through its control of authorisation (licensing) of new generation and distribution.

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    The fact is that whatever government is in power when the blackouts start – as they will if current policy is continued – will be heavily punished by the voters. the Conservatives would do well to ensure it is not them.

    • Monty
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      I suspect it is already too late, and I’ve thought that since the Ferrybridge fire. Unless we have an exceptionally mild winter, I will be surprised if we don’t see rolling blackouts.

  23. Bob
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The green movement has succeeded in transferring our manufacturing industry to countries where new coal fired power stations are opening every week.

    Obviously the Greens believe that any resultant pollution will stay within the borders of the country where it’s produced.

    This together with open borders and all the other EU inspired nonsense will finish the UK as a viable nation, but then I suppose that’s the plan, isn’t it?

    • Hefner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      You have the timescale wrong. UK manufacturing industry was transferred eastward in the 80s not because of green constraints but because of cheaper workforce (and larger profits).

      • Mark
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        You have the timescale wrong. The sharpest decline in manufacturing occurred in the first decade of this century under the Labour government, coinciding with progressively more expensive energy supplies. For an electric arc furnace steel process, power costs are now around twelve times labour costs in the UK: wages are unimportant in the cost structure.

        • Hefner
          Posted September 11, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          Well, the “de-industrial revolution” came from a tale told first by the Conservatives then Labour. The message since the mid-80s was: the old days of heavy industry are gone for good. The future lies in working with our brains, not our hands. The job of Government in economic policy is simply to get out of the way. We need to fling open our markets to trade with other countries, etc …
          This was the way of both Thatcher (Keith Joseph) and Blair: what was sold as economic modernization led to industrial decay and the promised rewards of this “post-modern future” did not materialise. The middle-aged engineers who were laid off did not go away to become software engineers.
          And I give it to you, the trend was further pursued by New Labour’s “knowledge economy”, and the rise of energy prices also contributed.

      • Bob
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        @Hefner, it wasn’t so much about larger profits as it was survival.
        Remember British motorcycles?

  24. Edward M
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Eloquently said.
    I fail to understand the lack of commonsense of successive governments that causes them to follow such a ludicrous energy policy. I do not want industries to be driven abroad and to places of lower environmental standards. I believe nuclear energy (followed by fossil fuels) is our best option – but why can’t we have British designed reactors employing British engineers, why are we paying foreign companies sky-high prices to produce what was originally a British invention. Who’s side are our government on ?
    As for wood – chopping down mature trees for fuel immediately releases stored CO2 into the atmosphere in the same way that coal does – but also destroys natural habitats. A well known organisation has cut down some large woods (up to 200 years old, renowned for bluebells) entrusted to its care near where I live, and “to provide habitats for birds” !
    (Trees do grow back, but take a long time – however using biomass that is a side product of food production would be more effective).
    In the coming years I do not want to face unnecessary power cuts – should we start to install diesel generators at home ?

    Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Yes there is much to be said for security of supply. Reliability in itself can equal cheapness on the macro scheme of things.Caroline Lucas was right however to point out the “unaffordability” in the narrower field in regard to nuclear fees. I believe you were right JR within the parameters of the British Parliament’s debate.

    In the big picture and aside from geo-politics: a Russian deal would have been better. They have a world-wide successful practice of building nuclear power plants with external verifications surpassing international standards but importantly are contractually bound to supply at a fixed price nuclear fuel to the installations.
    Our deals for the UK are poor by comparison. The half-nationalised French nuclear industry has tied us into rather expensive contracts.The reliability or otherwise of fuel (Uranium ?) cannot be known.But its pricing and availability is probably determined by the frequency of Fukushimas, Chernobyls and indeed the UK nuclear incidents in 1957 x 2; 1967; 1996; 1998 and 2005 and elsewhere over the pond and globally.

    Again on the panoramic view, green technologies ( the error is in the term ) involve economic chaos and detract from the need to make energy cheap and reliable as this saves lives.

    Ecological concerns and arguably the original notions of socialism were never meant to become a religion or ideology. Never meant to make sometimes sensible ideas into rose-coloured, red-coloured and now green-coloured spectacles obliging the wearers to see everything analyse everything within a narrow “electromagnetic” frequency. Parliamentary debates are quite narrow enough already.

    However it is a pity we sometimes reject “green” ideas wholesale about the environment.Somehow because of the American Democrats in particular we see environmental protectionism as “lefty” and indeed in the realm of ideologically mindlocked chimney-visioned Green Party congregations. etc ed

    • Mark
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      The cost of nuclear fuel is unimportant in nuclear economics: the important costs are containment/construction, financing, and waste disposal. The World Nuclear Organisation offers some slightly optimistic numbers here:

      In the 2015 edition of its report on Projected Costs of Generating Electricity, the overnight costs in OECD countries ranged from $2021/kWe in Korea to $6215/kWe in Hungary.

      Hinkley C is the world’s most expensive nuclear power station at over $12,000/kWe – which is why it should be cancelled before anymore money is wasted on it. Perhaps we should do a deal with Korea rather than France.

    • Hefner
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Reading regularly the comments in this blog, I have difficulties this will happen in this country, more likely in the U.S.

  26. A different Simon
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    John ,

    Could you get The House to agree that until further notice , if any industrial or retail consumer of gas or electricity suffers outages as a result of lack of capacity that the heating will be turned off in the H.O.C. until the end of Winter ?

    It’s time the H.O.C. showed it’s confidence in it’s own work and had some skin in the game .

    Reply An idea which would attract little support amongst MPs I suspect.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      It would just give them another excuse not to attend.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      I suppose it would be about as popular as expecting those MP’s who extol the virtues of mass immigration to put people up in their spare room .

      Every other attempt to concentrate members minds on energy security and affordability has failed to break them out of their collective stupor .

      Perhaps this is all part of the plan to make Parliament seem useless in the lead up to the EU referendum .

  27. Hefner
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    ITER, International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, is built in France, but by an international group of scientists, a number of them British (probably disgusted by the myopic energy policy pushed forward over the last thirty years by the coal-oil-gas lobby, and accepted by Lifelogic’s heroes (Owen Patterson, Peter Lilley, Nigel Lawson) and our distinguished MofPs.

  28. sm
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Existing plants should not have been closed this quickly, just to meet a political targets.

    Plant operating hours on viable plant should have been extended (unilaterally) so as to leave extra reserve capacity for winter operation.

    Nuclear reliable? Its not competitive or built on time either. We are also contracting with a currently reasonably friendly EU controlled foreign state
    actor. This may not always be the case if it ever was. Do what we want or the computer gets a glitch.

    Taxing energy investment should be done centrally not just on energy supply.

    We know fiat can be produced, electronically and destroyed afterwards by gdp growth & tax, particularly it re-circulates in the UK.

    We have wind,sea resource, plenty of engineering, energy companies wanting to expand or diversify. Why not?

    Energy storage is around the corner & coming quicker than nuclear build see (Highview LAES). Cannot understand why we dont progress this more than certain nuclear options?

    Renewables are cost-competitive with gas & coal in areas and circumstance as onshore wind is proving. They also displace imports and reduce our dependence & meddling in troubled areas of the world.

    • Mark
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Energy storage is never going to solve the intermittency problems with renewables at any economically affordable cost. You can see this for yourself if you download data on wind farm production and compare it with demand profiles across say a winter month. If you want to see the result without calculating yourself (yet with sources quoted so you can cross-check if you want to), I can recommend the work done by Roger Andrews which you can find at the Energy Matters blog: there is a series of articles on related topics linked from the article called “The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings”.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:23 am | Permalink

      Do you realise how expensive and hugely wasteful of energy such energy storage is?

      • sm
        Posted September 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Don’t take my word for it go to the site and read the detail about Liquid Air Energy Storage. Its pretty close to pumped storage which varies on % return on stored energy.

        It’s here now this winter on a small scale.

        It looks scaleable, & also uses kit that we have now and will impact quicker than nuclear by meeting critcal peak needs. It probably will be part of the solution.

        • Mark
          Posted September 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t take your word for it at all. I tried the calculator at one site: it refused to estimate any store that took longer than 24 hours to charge or discharge, or for a capacity greater than 300MW output. It suggested that 40% of the energy was lost in the process – substantially higher than the loss at Dinorwig, which is just 25%, and way short of the output (1.7GW) and storage capacity (8.5GWh). Just to smooth over wind capacity over a typical month requires something of the order of 3 TWh of storage – or over 350 Dinorwgs, or 2500 of those LAES units at a cost of over $180bn. It would need to sell its power for more than 2.5 times what it paid for it just to recuperate the cost of input power, and then it would need to pay for all the capital expenditure on top. It is not a viable technology for anything other than extreme peak lopping.

  29. turbo terrier
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink


    Why worry about nuclear power stations?

    Have you ever thought about the number of nuclear powered vessels within 200 miles of our shores on a daily basis? It is not just submarines.

    We have some medium of control on our own boats and shipping in that they get regular refits.

  30. turbo terrier
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Could this be the way forward?

    As regulatory changes slash revenue potential, Monsson Group will take down its completed 27MW wind farm rather than switch on and lose money for 25 years. Romanian renewable energy firm Monsson Group is preparing to dismantle turbines at its 27MW Targusor wind farm in Constance county, a sign of just how bad things have become in the country’s once booming wind business. (Courtesy of todays National Wind Watch bulletin)

    At least Romania has seen the light. What price it happening over here?

    Pretty basic really no funding no windfarm. Whatever happened to being self sufficient? Time for Amber to pull the plug on the whole sorry mess.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 11, 2015 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      Amber seems to be a believer in the green religion alas.

  31. adams
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for voting against the rigging of the referendum rules John . Much appreciated .
    Any chance of stopping Cameron from importing more (migrants ed) into our rapidly vanishing country ?

  32. Mark
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Apart from the expense of some twisted metal, there is little to fear from disasters to fusion reactors, since the reaction would collapse automatically if the plant is damaged. It needs containment in a vacuum with precisely aligned electromagnetic fields to maintain reaction conditions. Tritium, used in the process has a relatively short half life and low decay emission energy.

  33. stred
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry. There will be French nukes all along the channel coast, 100-20 miles away and upwind. Cancelling ours won’t make you safe, if you think it is the most dangerous and ignore the statistics. The figures are all in Sustainable Energy by MacKay.

  34. Adam
    Posted September 13, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Nuclear is not expensive, its the cheapest energy source we have by a long way. Look at the energy release for Uranium compared to the same amount of coal or oil.

    I am not sure what was done to make it so expensive, but that must be artificial cost.

  • 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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