My Speech at the Westminster Hall debate on the UK’s Energy Security Strategy

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): I welcome any measure to buttress our energy security. Ministers are right to be alert to the difficulties we face. I am concerned about this decade. Once again in this debate, we have heard many ideas about nuclear, wind and solar—new technologies that may make a great contribution in the next decade—but our task today is to reinforce all the things that the Minister is doing to keep our lights on for the next three or four years. Our more immediate task is to see what contribution the United Kingdom can make to getting Russian gas and oil out of the European system. We need to make our contribution, providing more of that supply from our domestic sources as part of our war effort. We need our people, who want to keep the lights on and the boilers running, to feel secure that we will make our contribution in case Russia turns the taps off.

Wera Hobhouse MP (Lib): It is simply not true that renewable energy projects will take until next decade to be developed. In fact, many of them are waiting; it is just that they cannot be connected to the grid. Can the right hon. Gentleman correct what he has just said about renewable energy projects?

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): I am afraid that the hon. Lady, and other Members who have made similar contributions, do not understand that I am dealing with the problem of intermittency. In order for all the extra wind they want to be useful, there needs to be a way of timesharing the wind power. We already have days on which wind and solar together produce less than 10% of our electricity, and most of our constituents are not using electricity to drive or to heat their homes, so that is a very small proportion of our total energy.

The vision of wind requires mass battery storage—we seem to be years away from the technology and the investment required to do that—and/or conversion to hydrogen. Green hydrogen would be a perfectly good answer, but again, we are years away from the investment, the practicalities and the commercial projects that could turn that wind energy into hydrogen. My constituents would love it if they could get hydrogen today. They do not want to have to rip out their gas boiler; they would quite like to be able to route more hydrogen through the existing gas boiler and make their contribution to the green revolution.

However, MPs have to be realistic. Our prime duty is to ensure that our constituents can live in relative prosperity, keep the lights on and have access to decent energy for their requirements. At the moment, most of our constituents get to work and to the shops using a diesel or petrol van or car; most heat their homes and water with a gas, oil or coal boiler. Very few use electric technology for that. If there was the great popular electrical revolution that they have bought into, and they could suddenly afford the electrical products and liked them, we would have a huge problem, because we would be chronically short of electricity generating capacity.

The true electrical revolution on the scale that Wera Hobhouse would like would require an enormous investment in new electrical capacity. If everybody went home tonight and plugged in their car, which uses more electricity than the rest of the home, and heated their homes using electricity, there would need to be a big increase in capacity. The hon. Lady is shaking her head. She wants to get real! Does she really want to cut off her constituents because she so hates them using gas?

Wera Hobhouse MP (Lib): This is about choices. We cannot forever get stuck in the past, as we have just heard. We need to look forward to the future. Investment in renewables is the only way I can see as the right way forward. Yes, that needs adaptation; yes, that needs our constituents to come along. However, it is a necessity. We cannot bury our heads in the sand.

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Once again, the hon. Lady is in denial. She will not answer the intermittency problem. Does she ever look at the hourly and daily statistics on the grid to see, quite often, how little of our power is renewable-generated? That is because of physics and weather. We have to find technological answers to that. Now, there are technological answers, but at the moment they are not being adopted. They are not commercial and they have not been trialled properly; there may be safety issues and all sorts of things.

Peter Dowd MP (Lab): Yes, they have.

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): The hon. Gentleman says that they have been trialled. Why are they not there, then? Why can I not turn on my hydrogen tap now? There are all sorts of commercial issues and issues about how to route it to every home and so forth.

Peter Dowd MP (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman is so fixed on this idea of commerciality. There will potentially come a point when the taxpayer—for the sake of argument—decides that the Government are going to invest. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has an ideological obsession with the Government not doing that. However, in the current situation, does he not agree that the state might sometimes have to do just that?

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): But that is happening. We already have one of the most over-managed systems because successive Governments have put in all sorts of subsidies, tax breaks, interventions, price controls and all the rest of it to try to send those signals. That is why we have the current mix—it is not the exact mix the market would have produced.

I fully accept that there is often a role for Government when we try to develop new technologies. I have no problem with that. However, it does require agreement on what that technology is, agreement on the scale of the effort needed and realism about how many years it would take. It is all very well for the Members present to say that they have a vision of everybody using an electric car and having a heat pump. However, if their constituents cannot afford it or do not want it, it does not matter what Members think—they have to deal with the world as it is. We cannot lecture our constituents into having a heat pump. They will have a heat pump when it is affordable, when it is a good product and when they think it makes sense, and they are nowhere near coming to that conclusion at the moment.

The crucial question in this debate is what more the United Kingdom can do at this critical moment. We have to help our allies and friends on the continent who are gas short and oil short and want to get Russia out of their supply system but cannot do so because it would collapse their industry, while Russia is financing a war by selling its oil and gas into Europe as well as elsewhere. I think there is a lot more we can do.

I urge the Minister to see it as both a patriotic duty and a crucial duty to our allies to work closely with our producers and owners of oil and gas reserves in the United Kingdom and maximise output as quickly as possible. Some of the output can be increased quite quickly; for others, it will take two or three years to get the investments in. Will the Minister do everything he can to expedite it? We owe that to our constituents, because gas and oil are too dear—every little extra that we can produce will make a little difference—and confidence in markets might be affected. Above all, we owe it to our allies, who will otherwise be financing Putin’s war.


  1. Mark B
    July 7, 2022

    Good morning.

    Wera Hobhouse MP (Lib): This is about choices. We cannot forever get stuck in the past, as we have just heard. We need to look forward to the future.

    Does she not know that, before the Industrial Revolution, we use to grind our corn to make our bread using wind and watermills ? Doing today using energy from oil, gas, coal and nuclear is hardy a backwards step.

    Perhaps, Sir John you may wish to take her to see that bloody great wind turbine near you. The one I mentioned the other day and ask her; ”Would you like that in your constituency ?”

    Reading the comments from other MP’s I can easily see what our host is up against. Just keep going. When the first blackouts hit there will be calls to do something, anything.

    The real tragedy is earlier in your speech when you mention the last decade ie since 2010. I consider it, when you take into account the first six years under the EU, then the next three trying to extract ourselves from it, then COVID, a ‘Lost Decade’. So, so much could have been done. But all the Conservative Government achieved was three PM’s and the doubling of the National Debt. Other than that, not much really.

    With a record like that, and I hate to say it, you deserve to get what is coming.

  2. DOM
    July 7, 2022

    ‘as part of our war effort’.

    I stopped reading when I saw this.

    The UK is not at war as Mr Redwood knows full well. The British political class are at war with each other and at war with our democracy and the future of our freedoms.

    1. Cuibono
      July 7, 2022

      I thought I’d better go out and start ripping up iron railings or some such.
      However, a long – planned proxy war doesn’t need my scrap metal!
      I need my old pots and pans to bang for the NHS!

  3. Bloke
    July 7, 2022

    The solution would be reached easier if those in control had a less-intermittent grasp of what needs doing.

  4. Original Richard
    July 7, 2022

    Hydrogen is not the answer.

    Electricity ->hydrogen -> electricity is only 30% efficient and when combined with the wind turbine capacity/load factor of 50% means that we need 4 times or more installed wind turbine capacity for any given quantity of constant electrical power.

    Hydrogen cannot be sent through the existing gas grid because it corrodes the steel pipes. It requires bigger pumps because you need to increase the flow rate by 3/3.5 times to keep the flow of energy the same as for natural gas/methane. Also, as a much smaller molecule than methane leakage is far higher.

    1. miami.mode
      July 7, 2022

      OR, yes it has been reported that hydrogen needs tighter joints than gas but also that whereas gas burns, hydrogen explodes.

    2. acorn
      July 7, 2022

      Agreed. Trials are showing you can mix up to circa 20% of Hydrogen into Natural Gas for domestic gas boilers. You would get a mixed gas of circa 33 MJ/m3 against 39 in the UK grid. On 100% H2, you would need three times the volume of gas. A 30kW combi on H2 would need circa 10 m3/h instead of 3.3 m3/h of natural gas. Most UK domestic gas meters can’t handle more than 6 m3/h at the standard 21 millibar regulator pressure.

      1. Lifelogic
        July 8, 2022

        But why bother Methane is just fine so what is the point of putting 20% hydrogen in and adapting all the boilers and network – we have no hydrogen wells, it will either be made from Methane (wasting energy) or will be green Hydrogen which would be hugely energy inefficient and expensive too. Methane is just fine and the UK has enough for 100 years + too.

    3. Mark
      July 7, 2022

      It’s even worse than that. If you use electricity to make hydrogen any time that grid supply is having to rely on burning hydrogen to meet demand you are effectively burning hydrogen to make electricity to make hydrogen and throwing away the energy used in electrolysis: you might as well shovel cash into a furnace, since you could avoid the electrolysis step and supply the electricity directly. So it only makes sense to do electrolysis if there is a surplus above demand. That will only happen half the time or less, depending on how much capacity you install: until there is a very high level of wind installation surpluses will be infrequent. The proportion of surplus hours per year sets the maximum capacity factor for the first MW of electrolysis you install.

      The size of the surplus also varies, depending on the level of demand and the strength of the winds. Occasionally, maximum wind output will coincide with minimum demand and produce the largest possible surplus. However, it will never be economic to install electrolysis capacity to make use of it all, since it would only operate for an hour or two a year. Indeed, it is likely only to make economic sense to use a small fraction of the surplus wind output because the capacity factors would be too low to justify the investment in extra capacity. Worse still, the level of surplus tend to vary on very short timescales as demand and winds change: this is not good for the efficiency of electrolysis, which is maximised by having a steady supply of electricity. This is another reason why electrolysis capacity would be limited, so as to guarantee a more stable supply for some hours more often.

      Anything you can’t make use of has to be spilled/curtailed at zero value, and any subsidies on the electricity supply to electrolysis also has to be paid for by consumers. All in all a very inefficient, costly and probably unworkable idea, especially by the time you look at the hydrogen storage and transmission requirements on top.

      This chart gives a idea of how surplus wind might vary at different levels of installed wind capacity

    4. Lifelogic
      July 8, 2022


      30% at best and it is a hugely expensive process too! Pointless nothing wrong with methane superior in many ways and we have 100+ years of it!

    5. Guy Liardet
      July 8, 2022

      Don’t forget that the UK produces one per cent of global CO2 and thus our Net Zero catastrophe is only virtue signalling to the Chinese . Forget batteries – do the sums. Lastly, CO2 doesn’t drive the weather. Read it up.

  5. hefner
    July 7, 2022

    Economist, 06/07/2023 Bagehot ‘The toxicity of Boris Johnson’.
    O/T but Isn’t this an ‘incisive and topical’ comment relevant to ‘today’s issues and tomorrow’s problems’?

  6. Original Richard
    July 7, 2022

    The BEIS/Parliament Net Zero Strategy using expensive, intermittent, low energy density wind and expensive sub-optimal electrification is designed to give us expensive energy and rationing.

    Nuclear is almost non-existent by the 2035 decarbonisation date.

    The Strategy said we would have cheap, abundant energy at the flick of a switch. But now BEIS/Parliament say that decarbonisation will require “demand-side response” viz volatile pricing and rolling blackouts.

    It is inevitable unless the Strategy is cancelled.

    We will also be dependent upon China for the wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and motors. So no energy security at all. Only the wind and sunshine will be British.

    1. acorn
      July 7, 2022

      For the “sun don’t shine wind don’t blow” department. Have a look at Particularly the “main table”. Of the four tables on that page, notice the load factors of each renewable; Solar photovoltaics at 10.1%. It would be more cost effective to put the solar panels in Morocco and cable the electric back to the UK. Which is what XLinks is planning to do.

      Ford US now has an electric version of its best selling F150 Truck. The concept of integrating a battery electric vehicle into a household power back-up system needs some national scale thinking about.

      1. Lifelogic
        July 8, 2022

        Putting solar panels in northern cloudy places is indeed rather daft. The problem with car batteries as storage is the cost and depreciation of the expensive battery can exceed the value of what it stores over its useful lifetime. Cheaper heavier static batteries can be cheaper but still cost a lot and do not live that long.

  7. Javelin
    July 7, 2022

    Our self inflicted problems will take years to fix. Are we ready for the Great Woke Depression ?

    Net Zero – goods inflation
    Lockdown – money printing
    Migration – tax dilution

    Perfect storm, right there.

    1. Cuibono
      July 7, 2022

      War with Russia….
      No goods
      Printed money siphoned off to “theatre of war”
      ALL tax money goes on migrant facilities and 4* hotels!

      Perfect chaos..
      And um…a VERY hard winter.

  8. Lifelogic
    July 7, 2022

    Indeed but we have no cost effective ways to store large amounts of electrical energy which is why it is generally far better to generate it as it is needed rather than randomly and they try to store it. The best current method is just pumping water up a hill but to do this you need large reservoirs at the top and bottom of hills & we do not have many suitable sites. New ones would be very expensive and potentially dangerous too. Breached dams have killed million,

    You say “Green hydrogen would be a perfectly good answer”. Well except that it is hugely expensive and wastes perhaps 75% of the energy in the process (electricity to hydrogen and back electricity).

    Reply I did say it had to be commercial!

    1. Nigl
      July 7, 2022

      Agree both. Commercial,and pragmatic. We know from Covid vaccines the problem solving capability of the world and enormous amounts of investment are going in to solve this problems. Essentially I am an optimist.

      So we mustn’t take a view as if nothing will ever be solved but equally the over hype is not helpful either.

    2. Ed M
      July 7, 2022


      Without meaning to sound patronising, I find a lot of your comments interesting and informative and I agree with you about the hysteria of greenies. But I do find you’re quite down on Green Tech. Sure, a lot of it is still not great but you’ve got to give it a chance. It takes a while to develop and improve any tech in general. And I agree, of course, this must ultimately happen within the private sector. But we still need to support the philosophy of Green Tech and what it could achieve in making us self-sufficient in fuel and how this ties in, in a way, with the Electric Car which is the way of the future whether you like it or not (for one, it means huge reduction of noise and fuel pollution in our cities but also other things, for example, the vast majority of young Tory voters appear heavily invested in green issues in general) and getting government behind the private sector as much as possible / doing what it can to help the private sector here as much as possible.

      1. Mark
        July 8, 2022

        I admire your optimism, but it should be tempered with looking at a wider range of possibilities for the future, and with looking at things how they are. So for example there would be very little reduction in pollution in our cities from banning petrol and diesel vehicles, because already technology has largely taken care of the problem (and it could do more, given encouragement). Most of our city pollution comes from other sources, such as building sites – or even Sahara dust blown in on the weather. Relatively rare weather conditions account for the few days when pollution levels are a little higher, causing concentrations close to ground level.

        There are many parameters of green tech that are not susceptible to technical improvement. We cannot control the winds or cause the sun to shine more hours per day. These are fundamental limitations, and we need to reckon with them.

      2. Lifelogic
        July 8, 2022

        I am not against it when it is cost effective and works without subsidy. I am not against subsidies for sensible R&D. But I am hugely against the roll out of duff uneconomic technology with subsidies. This just litters the place with duff uneconomic technology at tax payers expense and is economic insanity.

        R&D to first get it working (and cost effective) & then roll it out without subsidy, That is sensible.

    3. Guy Liardet
      July 8, 2022

      Hydrogen doesn’t stay in metal pipes. And Hindenburg

  9. Sea_Warrior
    July 7, 2022

    OK, I’ll say it: Johnson is off his rocker – and should not now be trusted with the deterrent. HMTQ now needs to dust off that Gough Whitlam file, call in the PM, and then sack him. Dominic Raab can hold the fort until a leadership contest can be held.

  10. Nigl
    July 7, 2022

    A perfect balance pragmatically buttressing the needs, wants, abilities to pay of your constituents with the actuallitee of the technology as it is. Only yesterday we read that heat pumps actually put people costs up and a dawning realisation about both cost and suitability for many homes. New radiators are just the start, these will need new piping needing re decorating, re flooring maybe upgraded electrics the true cost will be substantially more.

    Unfortunately a metaphor for what is going on elsewhere but there has been a lack of honesty coming from Ministers in their desperate push towards Net Zero and the public know it. The people are now so cynical even when some truths emerge, they won’t be believed.

    The uninformed unrealistic push back from the labour reps show this subject is in the grip of zealots.

    Hopefully when the tragedy up the road ends as it surely will, your government will be more pragmatic without losing sight of its goal and bring us back onside.

  11. Cuibono
    July 7, 2022

    I do wish that lady would tell us where we can buy solar powered ovens and boil-within-an-hour solar powered kettles etc. After all, the power would be free. They will tax sunshine?
    I suppose that if one screws up one’s face and screams loudly enough such gadgets just appear?…………….. Nope! Can’t see any yet.
    Oh well…back to three cups’ worth of water in the kettle!
    40p per boil?

    1. Ed M
      July 7, 2022

      I think Solar is a red herring for the UK as we don’t have the sun (but different if you’re a country, for example, in the Sahara). But Wind is being taken more seriously in the UK as we’re an island with lots of off-shore wind and because Wind Tech is improving year on year.

      1. turboterrier
        July 7, 2022

        Ed M

        But only in ideal conditions. Too much wind or not enough is the same result NOTHING Still needs backup to protect the base load requirements. Too much punishes the end user with the power generating companies getting constraint payments in some cases worth more than the power produced.

      2. Original Richard
        July 7, 2022

        Ed M

        May I suggest you please read up on how the electricity grid works and the enormous problems caused by intermittency?

        The website Gridwatch contains a link to an excellent explanation.

        Even BEIS now admit we will have intermittent power necessitating “demand side response” meaning volatile pricing to reduce demand and rolling blackouts.

      3. Guy Liardet
        July 8, 2022

        There was a week in March with wind at one to three per cent of demand. 100% back up by gas and coal, thank goodness. Why run two systems?

  12. Cuibono
    July 7, 2022

    If all the greencr*p were so easy.
    So EASY that JR must be scolded for lack of belief!
    Then how come we have not been supplied with super eco plastic bag replacements?
    Green warriors already shot themselves in the feet over paper carriers and bags…it’s the rainforests you know!
    My best guess is that they are now trying to do away with home deliveries by making them a painful and arduous chore for the customer.
    How then would we get petrol-less to the beastly supermarkets?
    Our sole choice now local shops have been culled.

    1. miami.mode
      July 7, 2022

      Cb, home delivery is so efficient. 1 van, 20 or so deliveries versus 20 individual journeys. Ditto with online purchases involving perhaps 70 or more deliveries.

  13. Shirley M
    July 7, 2022

    The last two UK PM’s have been good examples of ‘how not to govern and how to weaken the UK in one easy lesson’. They are both so arrogant they still bang on, advertising their lack of care and concern for the UK. Virtue signalling and saving the world is far more important than the UK they were appointed to care for.

  14. oldwulf
    July 7, 2022


    Everything you say makes sense.

    Today there are millions of people in the UK who cannot afford their energy.
    Today = now.
    This October will see a further price increase.
    Successive Governments have been complicit in getting to where we are.
    Where was plan B ?
    Renewables may eventually be the solution but the problem is now.
    Surely your fellow MPs are aware of all of this.

  15. The PrangWizard
    July 7, 2022

    Sir John, in his continued pursuit of sainthood, is intent on sending our gas and oil to the EU to help them get Russia off its back. Another MP who now is prepared to sacrifice our security, knowing perfectly well the EU is never decent in its treatment of us, but he dare not risk criticism of putting us in a strong position.

    What does he think we ought to get in return – nothing.

    Reply Nonsense. We are re exporting LNG imports which we do not have storage for at home

    1. The Prangwizard
      July 7, 2022

      Reply to reply.

      Nonsense? Why do we buy LNG we don’t need and can’t store. If we are making a nice big profit moving it what is it, but are we? What is being done to create storage? Why doesn’ t the EU buy it? We mustn’t upset the EU perhaps must we.

      Reply Yes we make a profit and we have the LNG conversion facilities

  16. Berkshire Alan
    July 7, 2022

    Thank you John for explaining the bloody obvious to those who are still deluded.
    Good grief you must be so frustrated that so many so called intelligent elected Mp’s can still be so dim about the relatively simple and practicalities of energy production and distribution.
    Clearly they are blinded by climate change, zero emission idealism and political dogma, with the wish to criticise the Government for whatever they do, although that is not a difficult task at the moment.

  17. turboterrier
    July 7, 2022

    Please get your colleagues to understand the air, ground source heat pumps are not the panacea to our energy problems just as turbines and solar are not.
    The biggest problem with heat pumps is not the unit itself but what you bolt it onto. 80% of domestic central heating systems are not suitable because the older systems were designed on a greater mean temperature loading and too many systems have mini and microbore piping installed. That’s assuming they have been designed to the correct steady state heat loss of the property in the first place.

  18. hefner
    July 7, 2022

    Get exit done, BoJo, and right now.
    Let the deputy PM run the country while a new leader and PM is chosen by the PCP. Don’t let the OAP members influence the choice, too many of them have as much brain as fleas.

    And hope the CUP MPs will have a bit more sense than last time (can one still dream?)

  19. Ed M
    July 7, 2022

    How can you govern a country properly if you keep changing leaders (/ similar to running a company – although in business, leaders get away with a lot worse)?

    Boris should have definitely been put on the grill but I don’t this this incident was serious enough for him to go.

    I think a lot of Tory voters would agree with this.

  20. Guy Liardet
    July 8, 2022

    Oh dear! The whole energy question has been discussed ad nauseam by Paul Homewood on his NOTALOTOFPEOPLEKNOWTHAT Website for years. Listening to MPs debate it is just EMBARASSING – a childish level of argument studded with error. Do read Paul and wake up

Comments are closed.