We can have cheaper energy if we leave the EU – and better security of supply

ENERGY

One of the most damaging policies the EU has visited upon us is dear and scarce energy. The UK needs to be free to have its own energy policy based on domestic security of supply and lower prices.

EU energy policies are pricing energy intensive industry out of the UK, and also damaging the cost base of general industry. The UK has lost large amounts of capacity in aluminium, steel, ceramics and other basics.

The renewables requirement encouraging dependence on wind energy has left the UK with expensive intermittent sources, which require going to the great cost of building back up stand by power.

More use of interconnectors to the continent makes the UK more dependent on a continent short of energy and itself reliant in part on Russian gas, which contains considerable political risk.

Freed of the EU obligations the UK could develop more of its indigenous energy sources, rely more on gas and fuel efficient coal stations, and deliver more cheap energy to business and households.

Instead we import more goods made using coal based power that is cheaper abroad. It does not save on the CO2 but costs us more in other ways.

Dear energy is creating more fuel poverty and necessitating higher welfare payments.

OUR OPPONENTS WILL CLAIM WE NEED JOINT WORKING WITH THE EU TO BE SECURE

The opposite is true. The continent is energy short, reliant on dear interruptible renewables and Russian gas.

Our best security is to develop our own energy, with our own nuclear and reliable renewable technologies, and with domestic energy sources for conventional power stations.

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63 Comments

  1. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    JR why have you not written anything about the the UK having the most expensive petrol/diesel in the EU? Nothing to do with Brussels there. Its HMG that continually decides to keep a regressive tax in place. Its also their choice to deliberately handicap British businesses with high fuel costs. No wonder the roads are full of Polish lorries.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Indeed but Cameron assures us that “a low tax conservative at heart” and Osborne say he “wants the message to go out that UK has low taxes”. But clearly he forgets this every time he makes his endless tax increases and tax complexity increases.

      As they waste money endlessly on a bloated, misdirected, usually dysfunctional and largely incompetent state sector. Also on green crap subsidising, augmenting the feckless, misdirected overseas aid, fees to the EU, daft over regulation and other such total lunacies they have little choice but to over tax anyone and anywhere they can.

      But they are killing the economic engine that they feed off, rendering it uncompetitive. This even before the job destroying, legally enforced wage rises and work place pension madness.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink
        • Mockbeggar
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          Not only that, but wind farm owners are being encouraged (with subsidies) to install small diesel generators to be used when the wind doesn’t blow. And we have to pay a subsidised price for the elctricity that these highly inefficient generators produce.

          • Ian wragg
            Posted January 27, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            The diesel generators are exempt from emission controls so are probably the dirtiest way of generating power. This negates any savings of CO2 thus exposing the sham and hypocrisy around the wind industry. It should be renamed the hot air industry because that’s what it is.
            I see Dave is trying to bounce us into an early referendum
            What’s happened to the EC guidelines. Surely this will be subject to a judicial review.

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic, yes I could see one of the wind farms from my home that was switched off for two days. Another one close by too. They earn more for switching off than when working. This is why many of them are applying for extensions because the more they put in the more will be asked to switch off. It is happening around us on a very big scale. They don’t need subsidies anymore with what they have by way of revenue already coming in from what is a flawed policy. This government needs to get real and come to terms with what they are doing to the people of this country.

      • bigneil
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        The UK is a low tax country – just look what some big businesses have famously (not ) paid. Become a friend of CMD – and your tax bill will be virtually nothing.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        The latest (and final) piece of the family silver to be raided is pensions. We’ve already flogged off the industry, the utilities, the transport – our homes.

        What next ? Our wives and daughters ?

        • A different Simon
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          Here is another piece of silverware flogged off just last week to overseas buyers .

          https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sells-kings-cross-development-stake-to-reduce-the-deficit

          “The government announced the £371 million sale to AustralianSuper of its investment in the iconic King’s Cross development today, Friday 22 January 2016.”

          Because taxation on land in the U.K. is ridiculously favourable , taxation on labour has to be ridiculously high .

          An annual location value tax of only half of the rentable value of the land would provide an income for society into perpetuity – and could be hypothecated to affordable housing and pensions .

          Far better than a once off transaction like a sale , or transaction tax like stamp duty or cgt .

        • graham1946
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          I think the air we breathe is tax free – at the moment. Meters are probably being developed right now.

          We ain’t seen nothing yet – they will think up confiscations we can’t even imagine as Boy George again misses his targets for reducing the deficit to nil by 2020, or 2025 or…………………..

          • Gary
            Posted January 27, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            CO2 tax. Tax on expired air. Designed to eventually tax anything that lives in the new world order.

      • Bob
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        The UK needs a serious cull of public sector non-jobs.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      This government has no plans to leave the EU. There is no plan B for taxes, energy, trade or any of the items covered in this blog. We hope our host gets his wish for a vote to leave the EU. Quite where this leaves the government I.e. his party which is supposed to be running the show, is another matter altogether.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Indeed coal, gas and oil are all currently very cheap, they can also be stockpiled and produce electricity on demand. We also have huge fracking resources in the UK – should these prices rise in the medium term as is rather likely.

    Stop closing down all the coal plants for a misguided belief in the totally discredited catastrophic warming religion. Stop all the PV and wind subsidies that ensure capital is wasted. Stop the absurdly expensive “bio” fuel imports. Stop littering the seas and land with daft wind farms that produce absurdly expensive, subsidised and intermittent (thus far less valuable) power. Produced usually at times when it is not needed.

    Stop rendering UK energy intensive industry unable to compete. Stop exporting UK jobs to other countries that have the sense to use cheap energy.

    But alas we have the “vote blue get green”, husky hugging photo op, “modernising”, high tax at heart, lefty Cameron. He clearly thought/thinks Huhne, Davey and Rudd were good choices as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Two lefty Oxford PPE graduates and an Edinburgh historian.

    Could he not get someone sensible to do the job? Someone with at least some basic grasp of the engineering, chemistry, economics and physics of electrical power production.

    Peter Lilley is perhaps the choice as one of the very few MPs who seems to have some grip on reality.

    Also change the name to: The Secretary of State for ensuring cheap and reliable Energy for all. The climate changes, it always has and will. A climate change minister (or rather priest) is just absurd. Why not a minister to do rain dances too or to control the tides?

    Also tax back all the subsidies given to these uneconomic nonsenses. The companies involved clearly knew they were an economic and engineering nonsense so such a tax is fully justified.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic, yes, and tax the landowners who also have only done this to make millions for doing virtually nothing. Our whole village has been put against each other over this. While the farmers and landowners around us are having a whale of a time, the rest of us have to look and listen to the damn things while watching our property values slump dramatically. No compensation is offered by these greedy developers, often foreign who are lining their bank balances to the tune of billions at our expense for intermittent power.

      An example of the greed and madness can clearly be seen from my lounge window. I look across at a wind farm consisting of 52 turbines. The developer, SSE, has applied for an extension of this wind farm by another 35 turbines. Yesterday, and the day before it was turned off because it was very windy and too much wind was on the grid. They will earn more in constraint payments for this than if they were operating. To add insult to injury the wind farm just a few miles away was also turned off. This wind farm has 60 turbines. Right next door to this wind farm is as I type another wind farm being erected consisting of 99 turbines. Just across the road is another wind farm of 18 turbines. They have an application for an extension in with the Scottish Government for a further 70 turbines. We have another wind farm at the application stage for a further 9 turbines and opposite my house and next to the first wind farm I told you of, is another wind farm being erected with 10 turbines and already an extension planned for a further 5. Next to this is another wind farm already with permission for 8 turbines. All these turbines are large and over 100m high and some as high as 126m. What is the point of having them turned off when we are only adding a possible further 200 turbines? These companies are now making so much money for switching off they can afford to build more turbines in the knowledge that they will be switching off more often. Utter madness and something we all pay for in the UK through our bills. It is about time Cameron called a complete halt to any further wind farm development and started to concentrate on security of supply. I fear he has already left it too late if you listen to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Shipbuilders who warned of this many years ago. As did, Professor Deiter Helmer and others like Dr John Constable of his excellent knowledge and ability.

      Other commentators on this blog are correct when they say that all 4 main parties and especially the SNP as they worship wind power, seem intent on seeing the ruination of this once great nation. They will not be content until we become the third world.

      Reply I also warned against relying on wind. Chris Heaton Harris ran a good Parliamentary campaign against onshore wind and helped secure the change of Uk government policy on subsidies to this.

    • Beecee
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      We had a Labour Minister for Rain, so careful what you wish for!

      • A different Simon
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        The one I’m worried about is the Department of Justice .

        Too Orwellian for me .

  3. Mark B
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    It was Parliament, led by Ed Milliband, that decided to Gold Plate EU regulations with the Climate Change Act, and threreby, create the situation where our manufacturing base and jobs will have to go abroad in order to compete.

    Large multinationals like high taxes, because they can always find ways and means to limit their contibutions and find ways of both reducing their operating costs and, their regulatory costs. This SME’s cannot so easily do and therefore, struggle to compete.

    Leaving the EU will not, in my opinion, solve the ‘root cause’ of many of our ills. It is our Parliament at Westminster and the lack of a true democracy that is at fault. we also have a system whereby, both the Legislator and the Executive are one. With so much power in the hands of one man, and a regulatory system and democracy not worthy of the name, is it any wonder we are in the mess we are in.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    The EU is also very against fracking, I believe.
    Roger Helmer has been writing about what you have just pointed out for some time now.
    Both of you are right and the only way to free ourselves up from this green nonsense which is going to turn the lights off sooner or later is to go independent of Europe.
    I am very surprised that the Labour movement is not absolutely incensed by the closure of coal fired power stations, the steel industry and ceramics and aluminium plants being shut down and thousands of workers simply being thrown on the scrap heap.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Mike, fat chance of that happening when Corbyn is another Green, wet behind the ears, climate change lover. Sod the workers and think of the polar bears!

  5. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The recent Energy debate in Parliament was ideologically based from some.

    The SNP will argue against whatever it thinks the UK government is likely to suggest or approve. If it were suggested Scotland should have free energy, the SNP would call it mean and demand an additional food voucher per household.

    The Green Party and one or two cross party followers, will not entertain the possibility of the wind not blowing or the sun not shining. Their speeches are mantras with the odd sentence relocated from one bit to the other. Pre-cut-and-paste. Fortunately they speak fast allowing others to make a few rational points, but they do not listen and immediately start tapping away at some pad or other.

    The Labour Party sends its MPs into Parliament with enlarged pre-printed questions which generally bark on about nebulous concepts of balance, agreeing with our counterparts in the EU and coming to a luffy-duffy consensus with just enough mention of renewables to convince a hapless listener they are as green as an african tree frog.

    It really does seem to fall to Conservative MPs to speak holistically about UK energy. Why available, cheap and reliable energy should be in any way a right-wing idea is odd. But it is true. Even when Labour is in power it faffs around with our energy resources.

    But the greater ideological concern is the reluctance of MPs to mention population levels either in Parliament or on talk-shows. The accusation of “Conspiracy Theory!!!!” often thwarted rational thought in America, disabling anyone from making but mediocre criticism of anything. Now the silencing accusation is ” You see everything as an immigration issue, hahahahaha!!! ”

    So on what population level was the recent report by the IME based upon? It warned of future electricity shortages. To whom? Is the number of our population projected to increase as in the last 10 years?
    The problem of energy supply fades into insignificance if population levels are managed properly. The cost however is not.
    Projected cheaper wind-turbine electricity production is not the answer when it has to be backed up by conventional power production not dependent on weather.
    EU energy policy is ideologically generated and is infinitely renewable for it appeals to naive German voters who are still afraid to say of their country “We are full” lest we think of them as Storm Troopers.

    • A different Simon
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      If the whole of Scotland was plastered with the biggest onshore wind turbines available , then once grid scale energy storage becomes a reality it could conceivable provide the electrical power for the whole UK .

      Let’s call their bluff and see if Scotland loves onshore wind as much as they say they do or whether underneath it all they are just nimbys .

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        “once grid scale energy storage becomes a reality” – yeah sure it would cost a fortune and waste at least 30% of the energy in the process of storage and recovery. Far better, cheaper and even greener to have on demand generation.

        • A different Simon
          Posted January 28, 2016 at 2:04 am | Permalink

          PS

          Shooting a deer would be about as sporting as shooting a cow and the salmon fishing is not much cop up there .

          Better to fly to British Columbia if you like sport (and cheaper) .

  6. alan jutson
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Yes one of the very basics of life, the need for energy, and of course water.

    The control of both have been passed to the EU and are run under their policies, by governments of all colours past.

    We really do have to ask our politicians why they think this way, and why they still want to give such control to other Countries.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Dear Alan–They would view your “other Countries” as naive and anachronistic, regarding, as they do, the Continent (including the UK, for obscxure reasons) as one big potential Brotherhood of Man and, so they would say, the sooner we and they (Yes I am very much talking ‘them and us’) are forced, whether we like it or not, in to one big single country the better. They have no regard for the staggering differences in culture, law, religion, history, language. Our forebears must be cringing at how these days we have to endure some unelected foreign nobody, often speaking through a translator, coming on to our screens telling us what to do. Apparently there are Five Presidents, who do God I hope knows what- for I certainly don’t. No mere ‘trade’ advantages, that’s assuming there are any, which I doubt, can compensate. It is almost funny (not) how we have to pay so much attention to tiny far off places most of us would have trouble finding on a map who now want and have the right to invade us by any other name.

  7. graham1946
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    This is all undoubtedly true. However, the operative word in your piece is ‘could’ . We ‘could’ develop our own gas etc. etc. However, I don’t think that will happen. With the government’s obeisance to the great Green God and the same with the majority of politicians infected by the same fairy tale religion, things will not improve and its no good saying to us, ‘well make it happen’. We don’t have much power and once an election is out of the way after many paper promises to get elected, the politicians ignore us. Try writing to your local MP and you get back a standard letter based on Central Office instructions. Unless there is the power of recall it will be ever thus. More attention paid to the Leaders’ wishes, however crackpot, than to the paying public (present company excepted, of course).

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Correct. If it happens I will be most surprised. We have an opportunity to make this country wealthy once again. Security of supply and jobs galore with money staying in the UK for a change. But, no, that is too sensible. We would rather give it to the rest of the world to fight the ‘effects of climate change’. Same as we are ok giving it away to the EU to give to Turkey for ‘border controls’. It is farcical and if it weren’t so important it would be laughable. Good enough for a sitcom.

  8. Spotter
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    With our railways being switched over from diesel to electric and HS2 being built our transport system will become ever more reliant on the EU to keep it moving.

    This at a time that we are closing down our power stations. Madness. Utter madness.

    You think fares are expensive now ?

    • nigel
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      EDF (84% owned by the French Government) is prevaricating about its investment in the proposed new nuclear plant. I wonder what would happen if we vote for Brexit?

      Never mind, we can rely on our wind and solar energy can’t we.

      Why ever are we closing coal and gas power stations?

    • bigneil
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      The HS2 is only for the rich – the power supply for them will be guaranteed.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Spotter, I was saying something similar to this to my husband last night. Imagine when we have all got rid of our lovely gas boilers, gas cookers, and fires. We are all mostly electric. With the power cuts that are coming our way, that would mean no way of heating our homes, no way of cooking, boiling water for a cup of tea, no computers, no way to heat baby food, no way of hearing water for a bath or shower and no light. I am sure there are numerous other things we would have to go without too. It just isn’t going to work. Meanwhile places like India, considered to be a third world country will be burning coal and keeping the lights on!!!!! It will be ok for the elite in this world, our politicians and anyone living in the countryside where they can install a noisy generator but for the majority in the UK it will be hell on earth.

      • graham1946
        Posted January 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget electric cars. Where the juice for them is coming from, God knows. I can’t see the Nuclear Stations getting built. It will probably be another rush for gas when things get desperate and we’ll pay twice the price of doing it now and miss out on a spell on cheap gas in the meantime.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          You do not get very far if you need the heating in cold weather need the light, demisters and the wipers on. If you get stuck in snow and ice or a three hour jam on the M25 you might also freeze to death when the battery goes. Best to travel with a gas heater perhaps?

          Mind you they do not go very far even when it is warm. With current technology they are far too limited and far too expensive for most users. Not even green when you consider the manufacture of batteries.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget all those (subsidised) electric cars driving about in bus lanes.

  9. Richard1
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Another coherently argued piece. But the question is would the UK post Brexit implement a more rational energy policy? After all we keep hearing from politicians of all parties that the UK ‘leads the world’ in green crap.Ed Milibands climate change act was entirely self inflicted, albeit in line with EU policies. Even other EU counties don’t have such a law. The UK post Brexit might become a low tax, competitive, energy-rational country – or it might elect Labour Party again and do the opposite.

    • getahead
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Or we could vote for a new party with conservative policies. Certainly, carrying on in the same old way will just drag us deeper and deeper into the mire.

  10. Antisthenes
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Leaving the EU would certainly help one less layer of government would not only allow us to formulate our own energy policy but every other policy as well. However even with that freedom there are many obstacles to overcome not least is the Green propaganda that so many have accepted as being the only acceptable wisdom. The more infantile the argument and the more forcefully that it is expounded then the more people will agree with it. That is why progressive and other lefties like the Greens have so much influence. How we overcome that problem is the key to not only having sensible energy policies but so many others as well.

    Our energy policy cannot be based on dodgy science and high mindedness. We cannot afford to lead by example if it impoverishes us and at the same time has no influencing effect which is obviously what is currently happening. We need to look not at subsidised energy sources but at making fossil fuel energy production and consumption more efficient. To encourage entrepreneurs and technological innovators to find alternative pollution free and cheap energy production methods.

    It will take time but even if the eco scaremongers are right on their time scale we have the time. The logical thing to do is to stop any more production of mind boggling costly bird mincers. Impose a pollution tax but make it tax neutral. Stop imposing top down solutions and let bottom up ones do the solving. The rest will follow on naturally from that.

  11. The PrangWizard
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    We must leave the EU, but our energy problems will not be solved without a change of attitude at home. Government is too keen to appease minority and violent opposition to such as fracking, for example, in order to keep the peace and to appear to be ‘listening’, sacrificing national interest each time, and I suspect it would still wish to continue with present policies. Does anyone believe that the present PM believes in anything other than preserving his own skin?

    Weakness and a belief in a false ideology among thousands who ought to know better has got us to where we are today. Much needs to be done in cleaning our stables if England is to regain self-respect and prosperity.

  12. The Active Citizen
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    “The continent is energy short, reliant on dear interruptible renewables and Russian gas.”

    Yes, dangerous to be even more in bed with the EU over energy than we already are, for all sorts of reasons. I’ll focus on just one.

    The latest news on Russian gas in the EU is that Germany is still ploughing ahead with Nord Stream 2, (a second Russian pipeline into Germany to make them even more dependent on Putin than they already are), despite this being against the agreed EU energy policy.

    Conversely the EU Commission have prevented Italy from pursuing a South Stream project with Russia, much to the Italians’ cries of ‘double standards’.

    Germany agreed the Nord Stream 2 contract unilaterally. Once again, Germany seems to be exerting more and more of its power in the already undemocratic EU.

    An important side effect in all of this is that a new Nord Stream pipeline into Germany will marginalise pipelines through countries like Poland and the Ukraine. The cynics amongst us would see this as an ominous strategic move by Putin, allowing him to cut gas to the Ukraine altogether in a few years’ time. Not difficult to imagine what he’d do next.

    Why is Russian gas important to us? Well, our own gas production in the UK has fallen by 70% since 2000 and we rely on more imported gas. 30% of our electricity generation is fuelled by gas. If Russia decided to reduce exports to the EU for political reasons, countries would need LPG by tankers and our electricity bills would rocket.

    The overall message from the Leave campaigns should be that the EU has caused us to have much more expensive energy, to have a much more uncertain supply, and it is pursuing energy policies with very dangerous consequences for the future.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you for another clear and concise factual statement.

    As others have already noted, it is open to question whether the current powers that be would actually implement the energy policy reforms that we need. I note that the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has stated that we face a huge shortfall in energy capacity in the years ahead – rising to some 30 to 40% shortfall.

    I was surprised to hear, in response, the government claim that this will be covered, among other things, by gas recovered by fracking. This, it seems to me, is a wild and irresponsible statement. Apart from Cuadrilla’s very limited test drilling in Lancashire it has yet to be demonstrated that there are the huge recoverable reserves that the geology suggests might be there. Beyond that, it has yet to be demonstrated that the necessary skills and capital that will be required to exploit such resources is either ready, willing or able to do so in political and regulatory climate that prevails in the UK. I am aware that the government has eased the rules on drilling; but that is only a first step in a very long journey.

  14. Bert Young
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    It’s not only the manufacturing sector that would benefit from lower energy costs it’s also the individual household . The EU has forced higher prices on this country with all sorts of plaintives – the “green” issue amongst them . Germany did not hesitate to re-introduce coal fired energy sources when EU dictats were demanding a clean air policy ; the French turned their backs on so many “instructions” so , why should we have been so compliant ?

    We have been very foolish to have gone along with all the EU impositions and ought to have put our foot down a long time ago . Today the “Leave”,”Out”,”Brexit” campaigners have a winner on their plates with the migration crisis ; if they cannot win with this issue , then we are sunk . I despair of our leadership and pray for another Churchill to emerge .

  15. Shieldsman
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    The biggest self inflicted disaster of modern times in the UK must be the almost unanimous passing of the Climate Change Act by Parliament.

    The slavish attempts by incompetent Minsters and the DECC to achieve the CO2 reduction targets are beyond comprehension. No thought was put into the practicalities of replacing coal and gas with renewables. Bringing remote wind farm generation on line has taken time and been expensive. To replace domestic use of gas with electricity is impractical as we do not have the renewable sources available in the foreseeable future.

    It is all MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, rather like Mr Cameron’s attempts to reform the European Union.

    The Engineers know what a shambles Government Energy policy is. The Institute of Mechanical Engineers have just published a paper – ENGINEERING
    THE UK ELECTRICITY GAP.

    • Atlas
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Agreed Shieldsman – If you wrote a book outlining this, people would not even accept it as a work of fiction!!

    • turbo terrier
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Shieldsman

      Think back to the days when we had real government and decisions badly introduced would be repealed.

      If we had a government made up with our host and his 100 odd like minded “energy ” supporters The Climate Chnge Act would have been repealed by now.

      What we have at the moment is a government with no true grit and the real bottle to hold their hands up and say “We were wrong on this”

      Sadly you do not always get what you voted for.

      All this greencrap and other nonsense that we are being fed at the moment could only happen with the percieved standard of cabinet we have at the moment. We are sleep walking slowly but surely to the full implementation of Agenda 21.

  16. forthurst
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    “…reliable renewable technologies”

    …but also competitively priced, otherwise no; that would rule out wind, solar, biomass leaving hydro, as pumped is stored rather than generated energy. Currrently we are drawing 8% via interconnectors. We are drawing 75.14% via coal, gas and nuclear of which the first two are deprecated as not ‘renewable’, the first is being actively closed and the latter now, mainly end-of-life. Lunacy.

  17. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I wish we would get off all these dependencies….you know, the ones we pay someone else to give us? Some always late!

    I would’ve expected the Danes to loose patience/tolerance fairly quickly. Pity the UK has fallen into the habit of the rest of Europe….weakness!

  18. bigneil
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    OFF TOPIC

    Seeing that another European country is imposing new laws on the rights of immigrants to NOT be able to bring their relatives in for 3? years – -why can’t WE do the same ?- instead of having judges rule that if one gets here the whole family can come to be a burden on all our systems. Their policy is clearly designed to stop them wanting to go there – so they will head for here. Does Cameron think there is an endless supply of cash for people who have contributed nothing – – he clearly keeps cutting funding for the police, just to pay for the free lives handed out.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      bigneil

      Its not a question of we can’t.

      Its a question of our Government cannot be bothered.
      or
      Lacks the will.

      In recent months we have seen virtually all EU Countries ignore the movement of illegal people into the EU until it is now over 1 million.
      Now they are breaking their own rules (under self preservation) by putting up border controls between EU countries

      Now we have it reported that Germany and Denmark are confiscating peoples wealth (money, Jewellery etc) at the border crossings, as some sort of pre-payment for being looked after.

      Like wise we are scrapping coal fired power stations, whilst others build new.

      The fact is our Government has always obeyed the EU to the absolute letter/Comma.
      Whereas most of the others just pick and choose what to enforce, and ignore the rest.

      Perhaps we should ask our politicians why they are not looking after our interests, just like the others elsewhere appear to do.

      Seems always like one rule for them, another for us.
      or
      Do as I say, not do as I do, as far as the EU is concerned.

  19. Sue L
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Dear John

    Thank you for continuing to provide helpful comment on the merits of leaving the EU. I appreciate that my comments do not relate to energy policy but I share them with you in the hope that you might address these issues in due course or share them with a colleague who may wish to do so.

    I actively support the Wildlife Trusts and in that capacity I appear to be in a minority who do so and yet wish to exit the EU. Given that the Wildlife Trusts / RSPB claim to have approaching one million members each (albeit many may be members of both) – their views may prove to be important in a referendum.

    There are two key concerns:
    1. Wildlife charities in general are in receipt of EU grants which help fund conservation projects. They fear that this funding would disappear without EU support and that the UK government would not then support alternative funding.
    2. The is an every growing matrix of EU legislation which is aimed at protecting wildlife and that without this support the UK government would not seek to protect wildlife and may look to achieve growth through a relaxation of conservation / planning rules.

    These are deep seated fears which ought to be addressed in the run up to the referendum and I would love some assurance that they will be in due course.

    Thanks as always

    Reply Good points. Vote leave has said we will make all payments the EU makes direct on exit. We are not trying to do farmers, universities and wildlife charities out of their money. Nor are we proposing the repeal of any wildlife law. We will gain the power to repeal, improve or amend the EU wildlife laws, but they will remain law in the UK all the time the UK Parliament wants them. I know of no group of MPs campaigning to dilute EU wildlife laws.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – Indeed. The money saved will more than cover it, seeing as we are net contributors to the EU it is our money paying for it all anyway.

  20. Vanessa
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I have just read a great piece on EUReferendum where some German has said that the EU will have less clout if Britain leaves. In the comments there is a very interesting one which says, actually the EU will lose “clout” if we leave; this translates into Britain has lost its “clout” in the world by being a member of the EU; the EU has gained our “clout” at the expense of Britain.

    Energy is a disaster by being in the EU, another gained “clout” if we leave.

  21. agricola
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    You say ” We can have cheaper energy if we leave the EU, and better security of supply”., but I don’t think it would be as straight forward as the statement.

    We need to go flat out to discover and exploit sources of shale gas, and I think we should expand the use of coal combined with CO2 capture. Even Rolls Royce will not give me an answer on the adaption of maritime nuclear power units to civil use, so it remains just an idea. Does anyone have any knowledge on the subject.

    The EU’s and our compliant government plan is that we boost electricity production from renewables( Windmills ) to 30% of our need by 2020. As they are now issuing contracts to windmill companies to invest in diesel engine back-up generation it is hardly a vote of confidence in the reliability of the former. There is yet another problem I foresee.

    There are six major suppliers of power in the UK.

    British Gas owned by Centrica (A UK enterprise.)
    EDF Energy wholly owned by EDF SA ( A French company )
    E.ON which was Powergen but is now German owned (E.ON AG)
    N. Power which is German owned by (RWE)
    Scottish Power owned by a Spanish company (Iberdrola)
    SSE who I believe remain Scottish owned

    From experience I can tell you that Iberdrola SA are ridiculously expensive being seemingly reliant on a forest of windmills in Spain. I use solar to heat domestic water and the swimming pool and a wood pellet boiler for winter central heating. Electricity is to be avoided here in Spain.

    I cannot relate the extent to which EDF SA, E.ON AG, or RWE are dependent on windmills, but being at the heart of the EU I assume they believe in the green religion.

    I believe that at the moment we import about 1% of our electrical power from these expensive sources. Not much you may say, but their company philosophies must run in the companies they own in the UK. If we wish to change to a policy of cheaper power then we need, possibly under the threat of takeover , to make it clear to these companies what our cheap power policy is and how we intend to achieve it. It is possible that at heart they do not care what our policy and modus operandi is providing it is profitable to them.

    So in answer to your title, only if we dictate the sources and the means. It is important that we do in support of our industry and the beleaguered domestic user.

  22. Bill
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post. Agree with every word. I don’t know enough about the situation to comment properly but do recall that someone in the Attlee cabinet pointed out that Britain was blessed because it was built on coal and surrounded by fish. In addition to our international connectivity, we need self-sufficiency in key industries and energy must be one of them.

  23. NickW
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    The Government is currently struggling to meet electricity demand because of maintenance requirements and closure of coal fired power stations due to EU requirements.

    At the same time the Government is providing huge grants for electric vehicles which are being endlessly plugged by the eco loonies in the media.

    Our current (11.10am 27/01/16) electricity demand is 40 Gigawatts. (http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/)

    One million electric cars charged overnight will add 7GW to that; an amount equal to the output of ALL our coal fired power stations.

    Where is the sense in that?

    (A standard Fast Charger for electric vehicles is rated at 7 Kilowatt which is equivalent to a full size electric cooker with all four rings and the oven all switched on at the same time.)

    Domestic car chargers need to be centrally controlled by Smart technology to ensure that they do not overload the grid. All current subsidies and grants for electric vehicles need to be withdrawn until we have sufficient generating capacity.

  24. Chris
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Could we ask that you contribute to the debate planned for 4 February? Ms Hardman gives a list of Eurosceptic MPs who plan to speak.
    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/eurosceptics-to-push-cameron-on-eu-renegotiation-in-commons-debate/
    “…..It’s fair to say that David Cameron’s answer to John Baron at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, in which the Tory leader basically confirmed to his backbench colleague that he was ignoring him, hasn’t exactly helped relations with the eurosceptics in the Tory party. The row was splashed across the front page of the Sunday Telegraph this weekend, and I now understand that Baron has secured a Commons debate that will take up the issue he has been trying to raise with the Prime Minister.

    Baron’s debate will be in a backbench business session on 4 February, and has a rather spiky motion for discussion:

    ‘That this House believes in the importance of Parliamentary sovereignty; and that the Government’s EU renegotiations must encompass Parliament’s ability to stop any unwanted legislation, taxes or regulation.’….”

  25. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I read the other day that onshore wind is now the cheapest form of power. It was accompanied by the suggestion that all our motorways should be lined with turbines. I have been suggesting the same thing myself for years – easy to connect up and, generally, not spoiling anything that hasn’t already been spoiled by 6 lanes of traffic all day and night.

    Storing the power when the wind is not blowing is not rocket science – it just needs some investment. The 30, 40, 50 or who knows how many billions being spent on Hinckley would be better spent on storing wind power for when the wind does not blow.

    I plant my feet firmly to face the onslaught of comments from the carbon burners.

    • Edward2
      Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Storing the power produced intermittently by solar and wind power is a technical problem that is yet to be solved.
      Batteries made from some very unfriendly substances need to be bigger than mankind has ever yet envisaged to store megawatts of power.
      But if you know how to do it please let us engineers know.
      Millions and a nobel prize awaits.

      PS onshore wind is only cheap if you disregard the subsidy.
      PPS its not carbon its carbon dioxide..very different things

    • stred
      Posted January 28, 2016 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Some on this blog seem to have been mislead by green lobby misinformation about the ease of storing electricity from wind and solar by making hydrogen through electrolysis. This is shown on their ‘smart grid’ site.

      However, their retired advisor Prof MacKay, who told Ed Davey that their American tree burning operation did not actually save much CO2 and reported that the response from Ed was ‘shit- following which he was kicked out and knighted for his contribution, has an excellent chapter 26 in his book Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air, available free online. This shows just how much pumped storage would be needed- about 100 times what we have now for less than we would need. Also how if we all had electric cars, this would use qite a bit of eccess wind, but we would have to stay in during windy times and have the car battery empty and ready.

      Another informative piece on making hydrogen and methane from excess wind is on the Energy Matters site- Renewable Energy Storage and Power to Methane 25.6,2015, where Euan Mearns, Roger Andrews, Prof MacKay and other engineers and geologists have commented. The process turns out to be only 30% efficient. Well worth a read before commenting.

  26. hefner
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    On http://www.ons.gov.uk an interesting, if not brand new 24/04/2014, comparison of the evolution of GDP in G7 countries “An International Perspective on the UK Gross Domestic Product”.
    Maybe putting a pinch of salt on the declaration of those professing that “Demain on rase gratis”.
    The EU is not helping for sure, but “les lendemains qui chantent” outside the EU are far from guaranteed.

  27. Maureen Turnet
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Does the UK have an energy policy which isn’t over-ridden by our declared desire to be the greenest country on the planet. Why are we closing down the last of our remaining coalmines and nuclear power plants before anything is put in place to cover this loss of energy.

    Germany is shuting down its nuclear in favour of clean coal. We have around 100 years of unmined coal so why can’t we follow Germany in this respect or could it be we don’t have the technology to make it “clean?” Surely a mix of energy supply is a very expensive way of making our country energy secure. Wind turbines require considerable maintenance and those in the North Sea are both expensive to erect and have a short life span. I recently heard someone on the radio speaking about harnessing energy from the sun which he said should be possible but like wind power it needs the technology to store it.

    Regardless whether we stay in the Eu or leave I can’t see HMG changing its policy of being ultra green unless we have a fullscale blackout. Christopher Booker has for years been pointing out the problems coming down the line especially if we get a long term cold spell in winter as our reserve capacity is running at minimum requirement. Seemingly if we do end up shivering in the dark large generators will placed in farmers’ fields or parks to ensure local demand is met. Has someone in the Dept. of Energy had one of Ms. Bennetts brain fades?

  28. Colin Megson
    Posted January 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I’v e just emailed ‘Any Questions’ with the following – John Redwood has got it spot-on:

    Caroline Lucas is clueless about the comparative cost of each kWh (kilowatt-hour) of electricity from nuclear power and wind turbines. And the cheering audience, following her comments, have just been suckered by her and the rest of the renewables snake-oil sales people.

    In the EU, there are something like 64,400 wind turbines with 128.8 GW (gigawatt) of installed capacity. At £1 billion [it’s likely to be nearer £1.5 billion] per GW, that’s £128.8 billion [probably £193.2 billion].

    3.75 Hinkleys would deliver exactly the same number of kWh as all of those wind turbines and at the £18 to £24.5 billion figures bandied about, that’s about £80 billion.

    4 Hinkleys will occupy an area of land about 1.6 km x 1.6 km square. This is in contrast to 64,400 structures decorating the EU’s landscapes and seascapes, which to a select few are ‘majestic’, but to most of us are monstrous and unnecessary eyesores.

    All of the necessary information is contained in the blog “PRISMs to Power the UK”.

  • 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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