Dearer energy


              No-one denies that the UK needs to build some more power stations. Some of the nuclear ones are old and need to be retired. We  could also do with some extra capacity to cut imports and to provide us with the extra power we will need if the drive to increase industrial activity is successful.

              There are two big questions that Mr Huhne needs to answer. The first is are we going to retire fossil fuel  stations as well to comply with EU regulations, or will he negotiate some extension of our time to use these stations to cut the costs of supplying power? I think we can assume he will wish to shut the fossil fuel stations. The second is what will we replace the power stations with? Mr Huhne will probably recommend much more in renewables, also to comply with EU current measures. He is said also now to accept that  nuclear replacement of nuclear is  possible.

                What the market needs to know is what subsidy regime will apply to the carbon dioxide  light or carbon dioxide free ways of generating power? The subsidy may be expressed as  guaranteed carbon price, and or as a premium price for the power they generate from these differing systems. Either way it means dearer power for the UK. To get people to put in the power generation we need requires detailed, consistent and believable subsidies or carbon pricing to make it worthwhile to produce this power. It also means the UK will be carrying an additional cost burden for anyone running an industrial undertaking in the UK, to say nothing of the impact of all this on consumer inflation and everyone’s personal budget.

           This summer we will see dearer energy push our inflation rate up. Gas and electricity prices are soaring. The increase in gas prices is bad enough.   The more we move away from gas generated power, the dearer our electricity is going to get.


  1. Paul
    July 12, 2011

    It appears that coal will finish sooner than you think. If this is the case can you ask Huhne exactly why we are wasting one billion “researching” carbon capture? Everyone knows it will never work and if there are no plans to build new coal fired stations then it is one billion completely wasted.

  2. norman
    July 12, 2011

    With all the money that’s going to be wasted on subsidising wind farms I’m in the wrong business. Wish I (or one of my relatives / inlaws) had had the foresight to get in the windfarm game a few years back but then who’d have thought such an obviously uneconomic practice would be the horse we’d stake our whole energy policy on?

    With todays technology we’d be as well using the money to buy Greek bonds, less chance of it being wasted.

  3. Spartacusisfree
    July 12, 2011

    A big fraud concocted by ‘scientists’ paid by politicians to persuade the public to accept more taxes.

  4. A.Sedgwick
    July 12, 2011

    There are an increasing number of indictments against the wisdom and judgment of Cameron, one of the worst is appointing Huhne as Energy Secretary. What we don’t need is an EU loving, climate change disciple, millionaire in charge.
    This tax regime just shows with every energy bill how dangerous the EU really is to the hard working, ordinary families and pensioners on minimal incomes of this country. It is absurd when China is bringing on stream a dirty coal power station each week we are flaffing about with windmills, which in some cases are driving nearby residents out of their wits and producing a minute, but vastly expensive, amount of electricity. The additional costs to industry makes a mockery of the already weak efforts of the dynamic duo to boost trade in this country – you really could not make all this up.

  5. Caterpillar
    July 12, 2011

    Well my usual comment:-

    Privatising nuclear led to operational effciency gains as is the norm for good ol’ privte sector. Nenertheless nuclear powerstations can involve a 5-10 year cah putflow before the inflow starts, which given the inconsistencies is govt attitude in past years makes it somewhat challenging. to work efficiently nuclear stations also need to be left on, so they are in the lower price, steady demand market not the dynamic peak markets. For these reasons (and security of supply) I agree with the idea of a guaranteed price. But also I think more nuclear power stations (> 30) should be rolled out to develop the competences neede for (i) future faster and cheaper builds, (ii) 4th generation with transmutations, thorium, reduced long term wast etc. By stepping out of the discipline at an implementtion level for so long the UK has lost the learning opportunities of several decades.

  6. Johnny Norfolk
    July 12, 2011

    They have no idea on how this is ging to kill off any recovery. They should stop all this.

    1. lifelogic
      July 12, 2011

      Can you kill a recovery that has been borne yet? What will provide the standby power for the nonsense/absurdly expensive “green” energy if they get rid of fossil fuels gas/coal/oil is best for standby? Nuclear will not really work as a rapid standby facility.

      Hydro might just work in Scotland but far from sufficient for the UK.

      Does Huhne ever speak to any sensible engineers – many could explain the basics to him in an hour or two so he did not sound like a complete idiot in his area of activity?

      1. lifelogic
        July 12, 2011

        Reported today: Mr Cameron promised to end the “old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given” model of public services.

        So that is an end to the NHS, the EU, the BBC, state education and so much else in the UK I assume. Or perhaps these these are just “Cast Iron Cameron” words or hot air as usual?

        Like making the UK a welcoming place for business or cutting the size of the state sector.

        1. lifelogic
          July 12, 2011

          Will Mr Huhne tell us when, if ever, his home wind turbine “badge” is expected to generate more energy than was used to make and install it?

        2. Bazman
          July 13, 2011

          To be replaced with scrounging private companies wanting favours and subsidies and that when faced with bankruptcy by their own mismanagement will want bailing out by the state as if the banking crisis never happened. Take what you are given? At least you are given something, under his plans it will be a health and TV system based on the SKY subscription model or something like Astra 19.2 E or other satellite rubbish. Pick a satellite they are all unwatchable and as many right wing middle aged men watch much TV they think they can apply this thinking to health.

    2. paul stein
      July 12, 2011

      its ok for a millionaire like huhne to trot the globe and sign the pieces of paper and pose for the photos and get your face time on the bbc and meet other important people all over the world,

      but after all this is said and done and he has retired to his country pile there will be old age pensioners struggling to pay bills people who havent got enough money to put on their electric token stick, all of which is just a side note at present with an acceptance that people will pay higher bills but theres never any acknowledgement of the suffering that awaits behind that rather benign sentence

      also does chris huhne realise that he is putting us at an economic disadvantage and that the way to cut emissions is not simply to tax high emitting companys until they either move over sees or are forced down

  7. Geoff not Hoon
    July 12, 2011

    Mr.Redwood, One can but hope that the IMF has some money left once all the bail outs are done to help the the UK again.

  8. alan jutson
    July 12, 2011

    The sooner we dump all of these so called carbon plans and green tax schemes the better.

    I happen to live in a well insulated house, because I recognised the value of conserving energy years ago (ie invest to save). I along with all other customers, am now being forced with higher energy costs to subsidise the so called gimmick of free insulation to all those who have previously not bothered, through higher charges of supply.

    If we have privatised energy companies, why is the government getting involved at all.

    Gas, Water, Railways, all of these services were so called privatised, but still we have government financial involvement WHY?
    Other than some ground rules on regulation of supply, and perhaps competition, what else does a government need to do ?.

    It would seem to me that “part privatisation” of the very basics needed for life, electricty, water, gas, was a huge mistake.
    We now seem to have the worst of both worlds as we dither and dither about what to do, and how to do it.

  9. Larrie
    July 12, 2011

    “The more we move away from gas generated power, the dearer our electricity is going to get.”

    But it’s our addiction to gas that caused the recent 20% price rises, as the wholesale price has gone up by 30% due to instability in the Middle East and increased demand in Japan due to tragic events there.

  10. Cityunslicker
    July 12, 2011

    Moving away from gas is just crazy. There is ample gas and with new shale technology coming onstream the UK can have eneergy security for 200 years more. Worse are the handouts being demanded by the industry, keen to put their hand into taxpayers pockets – they should be told to get a grip too. No subsidy for nuclear, no pointless windfarms that operate at 2% efficiency – just reliable gas supplies to keep our economy going. What other country would willfully ignore using its own natural resources to better itself? This is a real cost of having Liberal Democrat wolly headed thinkers in power.

    Worse news is to come, this year it is high prices, but energy indsutry insiders have warned of server power cuts from 2013 onwards as we switch off our own supplies. How much are the French going to charge us then for access to their nuclear plants?

  11. forthurst
    July 12, 2011

    If this government were trying to bankrupt this country it couldn’t be doing a better job, throwing our money down a Mediterranean drain, penalising reliable economical power generation in favour of unreliable, uneconomic power generation, making our productive industry uncompetative, stoking up inflation.
    Soon only politicians will ‘believe’ in the AGWEU project as every body else observes PIIGS being skittled by the Euro to a backdrop of weather as normal. What then?

    1. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      Quote “If this government were trying to bankrupt this country it couldn’t be doing a better job”

      It should be obvious to all and sundry that that is exactly what the international elite are trying to do .

      Pretty successfully too .

      No doubt they will magic some fiat money out of thin air to bail us out and use it in order to enslave future generations into bondage .

  12. Peter Turner
    July 12, 2011

    I am no economist but surely the old rules of supply and demand come into play here. If we have an energy shortage the cost will go up. If we have an energy glut the price will come down. Therefore the question must be – how best to obtain an energy glut? As far as I can see, wind energy and windmills cannot do this hence all the request for us to reduce our energy use. Wave power may be a possibility because tides are constant but technology has still to be refined/developed. Fossil fuels can do the job but they are polluting and finite so we are left with the nuclear option. France has gone this route and we buy electricity from them in the winter. Germanu has declared that they will close all the Nuclear Plants so they too will have an energy shortage and will also seek buy additional power during the winter too – from the French? So no cheap energy there unless we make our own. I would suggest, no plea, that we dump all this green, sustainable energy nonesense and pursue urgently an energy generation process which leaves us with a surplus. Afterall, it will not go to waste.

  13. English Pensioner
    July 12, 2011

    Environmentally, things will get worse if rapid action isn’t taken on replacement power generation.
    Firstly, the people of this country will not put up with regular power cuts, and if this starts to happen, as it must if we do nothing to increase our generation capacity, the government of the day will take panic measures by allowing time-expired plant to continue in service, which could be dangerous (in the case of nuclear plant) or bad for emissions (from those using fossil fuels). Additionally, under such circumstances, many people will purchase small petrol or diesel powered generators which are available for a few hundred pounds upwards, and are capable of keeping essential household appliances running, such as freezers, central heating pumps and lights. Not only do small generators cause proportionately higher pollution, there are additional safety risks due to people storing cans of fuel as well as the risks of electric shock due to the use of the illegal “quick and dirty” method of connecting to the home supply.
    For all the efforts being made to try to persuade people to economise in the use of electricity, we now have an increasing number of electrical powered appliances in the home, are building huge numbers of new homes each year and have an increasing population, all of which lead to an inexorable rise in electrical consumption.
    It is time people like Huhne realised what is happening and rejoined the real world.

  14. Stuart Fairney
    July 12, 2011

    JR, sorry for a horribly O/T comment but another blogger has reported that the British Legion accounts show no trace of any donation from Tony Blair. You may recall he stated at the time that profits from his book would go to them. It maybe that the accounts simply have not caught up with the donation. I can think of no other possible explanation from a man whose honesty and sincerity is known throughout the world.

  15. APL
    July 12, 2011

    JR: “drive to increase industrial activity is successful.”

    Let’s look at this ‘drive to increase industrial activity’.

    So far it comprises:

    Increased green taxes on industrial activity.
    Decommissioning British manufacturing – Redcar steel plant and Bombardier (granted the latter is Canadian or foreign owned – but we can’t be choosey these days)
    Not cutting significant numbers of Quangoes, despite the rhetoric
    implementing the so called Carbon credits fraud
    Not reducing regulation imposed by Brussels

    And then there is the maniac Huhne’s energy tax in the form of feed in subsidies for power generation that cannot in a million years supply the minimum required baseline power requirements of the UK.

    The energy drive to increase industrial activity is looking very much like a sick joke!

  16. EJT
    July 12, 2011

    Elect a “hug a husky” PM, who appoints an eco-fanatic like Huhne to oversee energy policy, and this is the inevitable result.

    1. Dennis Boater
      July 12, 2011

      Oh so true. Huhne is a fanatic all right, not to be trusted,as his ‘private’ life shows. I really wish that MP’s would put the interests of this Once Great Country before the likes of their (own interests-wed) and that of the EU. There are not many MP’s I trust, JR is one of them.

  17. Acorn
    July 12, 2011

    Gas fired CCGT is the only practical option we have for base load replacement generation. We will need some quick start gas or diesel back up OCGT on gas or oil, to hedge the wind turbines and a method for paying for this low utilisation hedge. A lot more gas storage for national security with a method of paying for the cushion gas in that storage. More LNG import kit and HVDC links to the near Continent.

    Let the Techs’ develop the exotic renewable like carbon capture; coal gasification and next generation nukes etc. but, they are not part of the solution for the current decade. We can’t afford to live in Huhne’s dream world that panders to the green vote.

    1. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      What is exotic about gasification of coal whilst it is still underground ?

      One powerplant in the Ukraine has been using it to generate electricity for the last 50 years .

      Coal gasification should have a great future in the UK .

      Well it might have if our myopic politicians did not insist that the UK disadvantage itself by unilaterally capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground .

      No other country is going to be stupid enough to buy this carbon capture “expertise” from us . It’s just another way for big companies to get their hands on public money .

      Carbon capture requires a minimum of 25% of the energy derived from burning hydrocarbon fuels which means you have to burn an extra 33% to get the same amount of power .

      Better for them to sacrifice their vanity projects and to leave it to the trees .

      1. StevenL
        July 14, 2011

        Or the algy.

      2. lifelogic
        July 18, 2011

        Quite right.

  18. stred
    July 12, 2011

    This country is uniquely going for large scale wind generation at sea. This will cost twice as much as land based, and this too is far more expensive here than in other coutries because of planning delays. Sea based will be vulnerable to storms.

    In addition, the winds farms will require gas fired stations running at idling speed, uneconomically, to provide instant replacement power , as generation fluctuates wildly. The net result is very little saving in co2. Unlike France, do not have enough nuclear to provide this backup, or hydro. T

    The whole thing is an economic disaster in waiting, presided over by a minister who is a lawyer and understands very little about the subject.

    1. APL
      July 12, 2011

      stred: “presided over by a minister who is a lawyer and understands very little about the subject.”

      No doubt he stopped practicing as a lawyer (because he didn’t find that easy either-ed).

    2. Bryan
      July 12, 2011

      Also, when the wind is too ‘brisk’ these war of the world monsters take electricity back off the grid to stop them disintegrating. It would seem that Mr Cameron and his front bench are either incapable of lateral thinking or too scared to tell the EU that we cannot afford their dictats. Or both?

    3. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      Quote Sted
      “The whole thing is an economic disaster in waiting, presided over by a minister who is a lawyer and understands very little about the subject.”

      He is fully aware of the distruction of British industry it will bring about and the damage it will do to Britain .

      That is his plan , it is no accident .

  19. Bernard Otway
    July 12, 2011

    This CARBON issue is going to be the death of our manufacturing industry,if we are not extremely careful. I received a round robin email a couple of weeks ago,that said research had shown that the recent eruption of the Icelandic volcano lasting about 5 days,had NULLIFIED
    the entire carbon saving of PLANET EARTH for the last 5 years,there has also been reporting
    recently that spoke about volcanic activity causing Sulphur to sit in the top atmosphere and indicated that this reduced global temperatures by at least half a degree [with the usual stupid caveat that this ” this was only delaying global warming,unless we cut carbon omissions”].
    I prefer to read Properly the likes of Prof. Plimer and others plus do my own research,when I then get into debate with friends or especially speak to strangers I tell them what I have found out and give them the sites to check.How many of your commenters John and even yourself know that the US geology department’s study of the MOUNT PINATUBO eruption
    in 1991 which lasted for a year was measured to have discharged into our atmosphere in that ONE year MORE than MANKIND had in it’s ENTIRE inhabiting of our planet.

    1. Andy
      July 12, 2011

      Wrong. Very Very Wrong.

      The US Geological Survey (USGS) states: “Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes.”

      The “130 times” figure on the USGS website is an estimate that includes all volcanoes including those under the oceans.

      Estimates of volcanic CO2 emissions are 65 to 319 Million tonnes per year
      Estimates of CO2 from fossil fuel use are 29 Billion tonnes per year.

      Pilmer is completely discredited, he repeats his “facts” like the one you site about the USGS story that he knows are untrue:

      (BTW, I dislike the Guardian as much as the next Tory, but bad science and lying helps no-one)

  20. Tedgo
    July 12, 2011

    I believe all these Green Energy initiatives are distorting energy prices and adding unnecessary cost to the consumer.

    Wind turbines are only being built because the electricity companies are forced to buy a percentage of their electricity requirement from wind turbine operators at a highly inflated unit cost.

    This clouds the issue for nuclear power, naturally the companies are delaying investment until they get a guaranteed inflated unit price enshrined in law. To any intelligent person nuclear power is bound to be the cheapest energy source in the future, the power companies should be investing their own money simply because of that fact alone.

    One issue with nuclear is decommissioning costs. That issue should also be levelled at the wind turbine operators.

    From the consumers point of view there is no real competition amongst the energy suppliers. The problem these days is that when one signs up to a low tariff package that package does not last very long.

    Recently I signed up to Npower package 14. After a few months the usual letter arrived informing me that all good things come to an end and that I would be paying 26% more, that is, a gnats whisker below the standard tariff. I did actually manage to sign up to Npower package 21 which has temporarily reduced my electricity costs somewhat, but no doubt the letter will arrive soon.

    Notice that Npower has had 6 other tariffs (15 to 20) in that short time period. Also annoying is that packages these days have a 12 month penalty clause, though they do not guarantee a fixed tariff during that period, which to me is wrong.

    Another annoying issue is smart metering. Apparently it is going to cost £11b to install them in 27m properties. This is £407 per household. Do I have a choice. If they build the cost into the unit energy tariff, what are the chances’s they are going to stop collecting it when the £407 has been recovered.

    I have my own energy monitor, bought at a fraction of that cost. Does it save energy, only if I get up and switch something off.

  21. sm
    July 12, 2011

    So the EU requires us to close….. please can we leave sir , pretty please with sugar on top.

    If Germany is closing its nuclear build, it would seem very shortsighted to close any power station with an extendable life already built in the UK (including any oil fired peakers) until we see the the real effect this will have on imported power prices after a hard/cold winter.

    We may as well nationalise the industry if price rises of 20% are the accepted new norm.It may at least force a strategic country view. Labour will murder the coalition on this at election time.

    1. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      Why do they put prices up 20% ?

      Because they can .

      1. Scottspeig
        July 14, 2011

        Due to deflation of world currencies. I read recently that oil priced in gold has hardly moved yet oil priced in US Dollars has constantly increased. Something tells me that gold is the way forward – don’t suppose we have many gold seams in this country do we?

  22. Bernard Otway
    July 12, 2011

    Further to my previous post I invite people to Google OIL SHALE and TAR SANDS.I will give ONE FACT the USA has enough oil in shale in the states of Wyoming,Utah and Colorado
    to self supply it’s entire current usage of oil for at least 800 years,Venezuela has MORE oil in shale than that,Athabasca tar sands in Alberta Canada has an estimated 180 Billion barrels.
    What would that do to the cost of oil,the oil companies should not worry as it becomes profitable at more than $50 a barrel [last current price Brent crude I saw was $119 a barrel].
    One last fact in 1976 to 1981 I lived in Biggin Hill,my wife and I took in a lodger ,he was a seismic scientist working on the North Sea who needed to live close to the airfield,he was also a qualified Pilot,the company operated a Twin Beechcraft which he used to fly up to the Shetlands to use as a base to do survey work.He one night after a few whiskeys told me that in his opinion there was a lot of oil West of the Shetlands that would be one day recoverable with new and better extraction techniques,I was convinced because he told me even more sober but did not buy any shares as he said it would take more than twenty years
    to be able to extract.

    1. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      Looked up both on Wikipedia.

      Oil Shale: more costly and difficult to extract than crude oil. It also produces more CO2 and uses more water.

      Tar sands: difficult and expensive to extract. Also it produces much more CO2 than crude oil.

      Both will only be economically viable when crude oil became rarer. However they may remain politically unviable due to the level of green house gases they produce.

      1. APL
        July 14, 2011

        uanime5: “Oil Shale: more costly and difficult to extract than crude oil.”

        Well, yes! Much of the easily available oil reserves for example those in Saudi Arabia are approaching depletion.

        It’s in the nature of resource extraction that the easier most lucrative resource is exploited first.

        uanime5: “It also produces more CO2 and uses more water.”

        Since there is no need to be concerned by the amount of CO2 produced by the extraction of Oil Shale we shouldn’t care about it. As an aside, plants love CO2 and if we could increase the concentration of CO2 to about 1% by volume of the atmosphere we could expect increased floral activity. Which could lead to greater harvests and more food for every one.

  23. Mark
    July 12, 2011

    The degree of distortion through taxes and subsidies required to make “green” alternatives competitive of itself is a major investment risk. Any sane bankers should require that money not be wasted in this way (i.e. the subsidies) if they are to lend on energy projects – the IMF surely should if we are forced to call on them. Of course, banks have the carrot of being the major players in carbon and energy markets (they now dwarf oil and energy companies in their energy commodity turnover). I note that Huhne is an ex ratings agency man who specialised in assessing sovereign risk: given the blinkers and rear view mirror approach of that industry, perhaps he still doesn’t get it?

    Huhne assures us that energy will be cheaper under his plans than alternatives in the future. That should mean that subsidies such as ROCs can be completely withdrawn if he thinks that fossil fuel will be more expensive: that process should be cast into legislation. Of course, that is not what he means. He means that those who profit from the carbon market will collect taxes that shut down the economy.

    The reality probably is that we will end up even more dependent on gas, since CCGT is the only reliable technology that can be built rapidly. That’s called putting your eggs in one basket. As we know, gas prices are extremely volatile, and subject to political supply interruptions into Continental Europe that see the UK used as an offshore supply terminal via our LNG ports and the interconnector pipelines. The promise of shale gas has yet to materialise.

    Incidentally, we seem to have an increasing lack of transparency in wholesale energy markets. If you try to search for NBP gas prices (the standard pricing basis in the UK), or Rotterdam fuel prices (gasoline, diesel/gas oil, jet fuel) you meet paywalls.

    Surprisingly, it is easier to find coal prices. Then again, if we calculate from about 120 $/tonne for coal with about 25MJ/kg (typical Richards Bay quality), we find that undistorted marginal cost of generation is 120/1.6 ($/£)/ 25 (GJ/tonne)/ 40% (typical efficiency of coal fired station: modern design can achieve over 50%) we get 7.50 £/GJ, or 27 £/MWh. Gas at 60p/therm costs 0.6/ 0.1055 (GJ/therm) / 60% (best efficiency of modern CCGT) or about 9.50 £/GJ or £34/MWh. Capital cost for fossil fuel generation is of the order of $1m/MW, or assuming average utilisation of 6250 hours/year, and a very modest 25 year life, about another 4 £/MWh. Apparently offshore wind costs 140-170 £/MWh (and they hope to reduce that to 100 £/MWh by 2020) – figures released by Huhne’s department reported in the press yesterday. Did Huhne ever pass O level maths?

    1. Mark
      July 12, 2011

      Incidentally, I think that energy retailers should be required to publish wholesale energy price averages for delivery during the billing period, so that we can see what the markups and subsidies are costing us. I hope that a little transparency would be helpful.

    2. lifelogic
      July 12, 2011

      You ask “Did Huhne ever pass O level maths?” – I assume he did – so does he actually believe in these nonsense energy policies that he pushes? It is hard to believe that he does since they are so very clearly and demonstrably absurd.

      But what is the alternative explanation?

      1. Scottspeig
        July 14, 2011

        That daddy phoned in a favour?!?

      2. APL
        July 14, 2011

        lifelogic: “But what is the alternative explanation?”

        Perhaps he has interests in Carbon trading, Windmill construction, property to build and milk the windmill subsidies.

        Or he is just mad as a hatter.

    3. Acorn
      July 13, 2011

      Mark, you can get the NBP price – free at the moment – at the FT Commodities page. Circa 56 pence per therm yesterday; 2 pence per kilowatt-hour.

      1. lifelogic
        July 18, 2011

        And he want the tax payer to buy PV electricity in at 43P per KWH – When it is worth perhaps 6P and is not even available on demand or when most needed in the winter!

  24. Graham Cook
    July 12, 2011

    All your excellent entries over time, including this one, just leave us to conclude that Cameron is an avid pro-European and with Clegg and the Labour party in the wings this country is surely doomed to continue the slide to the bottom.

    I despair for the cold and freezing future.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      July 12, 2011

      cold, DARK and freezing future

  25. JC
    July 12, 2011

    If we are spending so much money on this, with billions more to come, the science MUST be put in the public sphere. When some of it released, it generaly turns out to be of very low quality. If we are to damage the UK ecomony we must be certain that it’s needed.

    1. EJT
      July 12, 2011

      Very good point. The model and the data sets should be public domain, then let’s see how they hold up.

  26. Neil Craig
    July 12, 2011

    The only carbon dioxide free generating methods are nuclear and hydro. Windmills need backup convgentional generatingcapacity and, since they only work at 25% capacity this meand that they can only cut CO2 by around 25%. Carbon capture will probably be of the same order if it ever actually works.

    Personally I don’t care whether it is CO2 free or not & in light of a new alarm that cooling is being caused by China’s industrial emissions (seriously China burning coal is now saving the world) the wheels are clearly coming off the whole scvam. But nuclear is far and away less expenisve, environemtally intrusive & safer than alternatives.

    The real question is should we replace 1/3rd of our current power with windmills (£100 bn + £10 bn for17 back up gas generators + onging purchases of coal/gas), thereby at least doubling prices or gas or coal (£10 bn fot the generators + ongoing purchases of 3/4 as much gas) or nuclear (either £10 bn for 17 AP1000 generators or £10 bn for the generators and as many billions as politicians think they can extract for regulatory parasitism + almost nothing for the fuel)?

    Or a parhaps too radical an alternative – let the nuclear industry build as many nuclear reactors as the free market can use. probably quadrupling electtricity use , quartering prices, and giving us a real growing economy.

    Apparently a very difficult decision for our political classes since they have put off answering it for 20 years.

    1. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      You reckon they will go for the Toshiba Westinghouse reactors rather than the European Areva ones ?

      They could be really radical and put an order for the cores in with Sheffield Forgemasters which would completely pay for that big press they wanted to construct rather than farm it out to Japan Steel Works .

      Somehow I think that it just a bit too patriotic for them .

    2. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      “Windmills need backup convgentional generatingcapacity and, since they only work at 25% capacity this meand that they can only cut CO2 by around 25%.”

      Your maths is terrible. Even if the wind turbines only work at 25% capacity they can still cut CO2 by 100% if you have enough of them.

      “in light of a new alarm that cooling is being caused by China’s industrial emissions”

      There’s no evidence that high levels of CO2 are reversing the problems caused by high levels of CO2.

      Where are you getting the costs of each energy generation system from?

      Unless there happens to be a lot of people in this country who can afford to build and maintain nuclear power plants the free market won’t produce any. Also quadrupling the amount of energy produced won’t reduce the prices and it may even increase them.

      1. The voice of Reason
        July 13, 2011

        Regardless of the maths, the idea that we can ever have enough monster wind turbines to generate enough power is ridiculous. everyone in political power knows it. They are just too cowardly to admit it.
        I am all for renewables but sensible ones like tidal turbines or river turbines which are over 60% efficient, cause no landscape blighting and if the same subsidies were applied as with wind could do a hell of a lot more and do it reliably. Reliable enough to start closing coal power stations.

        However if Chinese sulphur emissions are causing a feedback which causes cooling, and if the Chinese are comissioning new coal power stations every 5 minutes, aught we not to be increasing our carbon emissions to counter the cooling?

        1. uanime5
          July 14, 2011

          “the idea that we can ever have enough monster wind turbines to generate enough power is ridiculous.”

          Based on what evidence?

          “everyone in political power knows it. They are just too cowardly to admit it.”

          Who are they afraid of? This sounds a lot like a conspiracy theory.

          “if Chinese sulphur emissions are causing a feedback which causes cooling”

          There’s no evidence sulphur is causing this.

          “aught we not to be increasing our carbon emissions to counter the cooling”

          No because the global temperature needs to be reduced.

      2. Neil Craig
        July 14, 2011

        During the December freeze when Britain reached its maximum power use ever and any serious failure of supply would have meant millions of people exposed to temperatures of down to miinus 20C windmills produced only 0.2% of electricity instead of its nominal near 10%. So to have kept the lights on we would have had to build 50 times more windmills than we nominally need. I prefer my arithmetic.

    3. Scottspeig
      July 14, 2011

      Nuclear is hard for the private sector to get into due to the monumental start-up costs which is why most nuclear plants are state sponsored in some way or another.

      I personally would like to see nuclear stations built on our little off-shore islands such as the Shetlands which would improve the local economy as well as providing a minimal damage risk 🙂

  27. David Cooper
    July 12, 2011

    By reference to the first question to Mr Huhne, there is of course a third alternative to retirement of fossil fuel stations and negotiating for permission to keep them operating, namely putting the EU on notice that those stations will be kept operating beyond the retirement date that EU Regulations prescribe, whether the EU liked it or not. That would find overwhelming popular support, even if hell would freeze over before Mr Huhne could bring himself to say anything of the kind.

    1. Bryan
      July 12, 2011

      Pointless in fact!

    2. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      Mr Huhne works for the EU , not the British electorate .

      You do know that pension entitlements of ex EU workers can be withdrawn if they speak out against the EU ?

      1. Mark
        July 12, 2011

        I’m sure such decisions would be subject to appeal in the ECHR: they have a human right to their pension, don’t they?

      2. sm
        July 13, 2011

        I wonder if JR or anyone else has had success in verifying the exact nature of the clauses in these contracts. I have heard this a number of times?

  28. Tedgo
    July 12, 2011

    I don’t understand why people think we need a subsidy regime.

    Let take a normal company say like Ford. They will look at their model range and may decide that a car is becoming dated. Their response will be to spend large sums of their own money developing and building a new model. They see themselves as car builders and by investing in new models and plant they will provide an adequate and continuing return for their shareholders.

    Power generators need to take the same view, they should look at their existing facilities and be prepared to spend their own money on upgrading and investing in new plant. This way they will provide an adequate and continuing return for their shareholders.

    Unlike Ford, power generators, along with the food industry and undertaking, have a virtually guaranteed market.

    Perhaps, like Australia is proposing, we should tax the power generators on their carbon emissions and increase the tax slightly every year. This would help engineers make an economic case for new plant investment.

    We don’t need fixed prices for the power generators, we need healthy competition.

    It seems to me that the power industry is going the same way as the defence industry, neither will do anything unless it is guaranteed a gravy train.

    1. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      Ford required massive subsidies from the US Government because the recession caused it to have huge debts.

      Your comparison between those who build cars and those who generate power is a bad one. For the reason outlined below:

      1) Ford has to create a product that people will want to buy because it’s better than their competitors’ products. Power companies earn money by generating electricity as cheaply as possible.

      2) A car from Ford can be sold anywhere. Power generated can only be directly supplied to nearby locations.

      3) If a brand of car is popular Ford can make more of it. If a power plant is popular it cannot easily make more power to attract more customers.

      So unless people deal directly with power plants and can easily switch from one plant to another one, power generators will not have to compete for customers and will have no incentive to generate electricity at a lower cost.

      1. APL
        July 14, 2011

        uanime5: “Ford required massive subsidies from the US Government because the recession caused it to have huge debts.”

        Perhaps you are thinking of General Motors?

  29. Jeremy Poynton
    July 12, 2011

    The question I would ask Mr. Huhne is how he feels about the fact that his green taxes have initiated a transfer of money from the poor to the rich, and whether he has a conscience? And id he has ever read any of the tracts which disprove the great Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption (delete as applicable) scam.

    I would also suggest that he reads Bertrand Russell’s History Of Western Philosophy. There is a large passage in it describing the effect of the advent scientific reason upon philosophy, which had previously been predicated upon religious belief. Russell lists the main attributes of science and religion, and according to these, AGW is clearly a religion and not a science. Most especially in the denial not of differing views, but of the right to hold differing views. We all know where that sort of thinking has led us to in the past, and it is not a place to be revisited.

    1. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      Scaremongering is no substitute for real science.

      If you have real evidence then publish it in New Scientist or a reputable scientific journal.

      Your misinterpretation of Bertrand Russell’s work is truly pathetic. The same criticism could be used to declare most of physics a religion because of the lack of differing views.

  30. Jeremy Poynton
    July 12, 2011

    Addendum. It took me forty years of voting to vote Tory, and I have to say, I can’t see me doing it again except in extremis to keep Labour out. I feel as conned as I felt when I voted for Blair.

  31. Liz
    July 12, 2011

    The government and Mr Huhne (a very rich man) in particular seem to have no thought to the electoral fall out from high energy prices. Aside from prolonging the recession if the Coalition think the electorate is going to re-elect either party when a lot of them can hardly afford to heat their homes and see we have the highest energy prices in the world, to say nothing of the probably black outs, they must be even more out of touch than appearances suggest! The general public is geting more and more turned off by these “climate change” zealots who seem to want to turn this country into a third world one.

  32. stred
    July 12, 2011

    We should be planning a quadrupling of nuclear power stations power on all existing sites, immediately. The possibility at Dundeness was refused owing to the effect on birdlife, despite there being an existing station there for 40 years. Instead of redesigning each station from scratch a safe and tried existing design should be chosen and the economies of scale would be possible. Just copy the French.

    Carbon capture is untried and may leak back into the atmosphere over a long time. Some countries are not even interested in this pie in the sky.

    1. Simon
      July 12, 2011

      We are the only country interested in carbon capture .

      It takes at least 25% of the energy generated by burning hydrocarbons to capture the CO2 and store it under the ground – thus requiring a burning of 33% more fuel .

      1. APL
        July 13, 2011

        Simon: “thus requiring a burning of 33% more fuel”

        Yes the whole idea is insane.

        And for those who have ever given thought to what happens to a solar array once the government subsidies have been milked.

        1. APL
          July 15, 2011

          There should have been an URL to an image of a large solar panel plant in Germany which was covered by weeds just 18 months after the owners had extracted maximum subsidy from the German government.

          If interested just google and see for yourself

  33. oldtimer
    July 12, 2011

    The coalition energy policy is ill-conceived nonsense. The UK is already sinking under the highest debt as a % of GDP in the western world; it cannot afford the self-indulgent, ineffective extravagance of the costs of renewable energy piled on top. What will happen is that, in an attempt to persuade manufacturing companies to stay located in the UK, a vast thicket of regulations, concessions and subsidies will be devised to mitigate the legislated extra costs that this so-called green energy is supposed to support. In reality it is not green at all because it will require even more resources and capacity to implement it.

    The UK has, reportedly, substantial shale gas reserves – much of it under East Anglia. The technology to extract shale gas is now well developed. Experience in the USA demonstrates this because it has resulted in lower gas prices and the idling of purpose built LNG ports. Poland has even greater reserves of shale gas – no doubt the reason that Gazprom has been lobbying heavily against its development. In short much of the answer to Europe`s energy requirements rests within Europe itself. The question is whether the political class has the wit and will to find it. On present evidence the answer must be No!

    1. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      Most Western countries have higher debt as a percentage of their GDP than the UK.

      Shale gas is more expensive and difficult to extract than crude oil. This is why it’s not currently being exploited.

      1. S Matthews
        July 14, 2011

        Shale gas is remarkably cheap to extract, far cheaper than almost all oil fields. Which is why the USA now has a glut of natural gas in their markets leading to very low gas prices over the pond.

  34. Derek Buxton
    July 12, 2011

    How can we describe Huhne? (unflattering sentence about Mr H -ed) The latter tell you all you need to know. What this says about Cameron is not fit for this site.

    BUT, please, is there no one in parliament who can teach them the facts behind energy generation and just a tad about the engineering side of things. Or possibly better, about an MPs duty to put the interests of our Country and People FIRST!

  35. Dr Bernard Juby
    July 12, 2011

    Thorium reactors is the answer – the Chinese are going all out
    in produccing these.

    1. Sebastian Weetabix
      July 12, 2011

      The Chinese are certainly trying very hard to develop a workable thorium based reactor but no-one is producing them. A functioning design does not yet exist.

      We too should be working on them here. Of course, as usual, we are not. But what can we expect from the only country ever to achieve a satellite launch capability & then simply give it up?

    2. oldtimer
      July 13, 2011

      I have asked the same question via my MP. Government policy is to reject thorium as a fuel because the technology is not settled. It obviously is not prepared to spend money to resolve the issue. The reply indicated they had looked at the status of research in India to reach this conclusion – China was not mentioned.

      No doubt China will resolve the outstanding technical issues, build dozens of thorium fuelled nucear power stations to meet its own needs and export even more to the rest of the world. It is what they now do. Clearly the UK government has given up before it has even started. So much for the high tech future that is supposed to be the future for the UK economy.

  36. Javelin
    July 12, 2011

    New Labour never formulated a clear energy policy – because it would have involved nuclear and that would have lost them votes. So they took the tatical option of staying in power and letting the country down.

    But of course energy costs are all linked to the debt crisis. As competitiveness goes up – so does the inflation and the price of energy. This competitiveness reduces taxes. So you get countries like Italy (and Japan) sucked into the debt crisis because their economies are not gettig any more competitive and txes are falling and Governments cant pay their debts.

    Take Italian clothes and shoes- the market has been undermined by the Chinese and taxes have not risen with Goverment debt. The Italian banks are left holding Government bonds and are exposed to a potential default. As I’ve said before the rel damage comes when you come out of a recession – and competition, inflation and interest rates go up.

    So back to energy – he must forumlate a policy where energy costs will be rising continuously. I don’t even think he can trust UK companies who would – be obliged as directors to – sell energy to the highest bidder. Which may mean selling it on to our European neigbours.

  37. Mike Stallard
    July 12, 2011

    There was an article in the Telegraph this morning which seemed, in its tortured and opaque way to say the following:
    We need to use less energy and stop being greedy.
    We need to build lots and lots more wind farms.
    We need power to cope with the surge “at half time”.
    All the coal power stations which could possibly get built will have to have an expensive sort of filter put on.
    The EU directives are paramount.
    The consumer pays for the whole caboodle.
    The nuclear option is just that – an option.

    When my brother came yesterday (an educated and intelligent man) he started to argue about wind farms. My wife thinks they look lovely and she believes Mr Huhne’s forward looking ideas. When I said that the lights would be going out in five years’ time, he laughed and said I had been reading too much of this blog!

    he maddening thing is that nobody ever listens when you say, “I told you so.”

    1. Mike Stallard
      July 12, 2011

      Ahem! Mr Huhne signed off the article.

    2. Electro-Kevin
      July 13, 2011

      If wind turbines worked particularly well they’d still be grinding wheat with them.

      1. APL
        July 14, 2011

        Nice one E-K,

        Of course we could give what bread we could spare to the greenoids if and when the wind blows.

  38. ferdinand
    July 12, 2011

    You are seeming to go along with the CO2 is bad theory. If as now seems the forecast of many scientists we are in for thirty or forty years of global cooling we shall need more energy than even the top estimates. Fossil fuel is the answer and with so many new gas reserves we can reorganise our use of oil to limit it almost entirely to transportation, and use new coal powered power stations for electricity. This will mean much reduced prices if the idiotic carbon tax is removed.

    1. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      No scientist are claiming that the environment is going to conveniently cool down for no reason.

      1. lojolondon
        July 14, 2011

        That is total rubbish. The earth has been cooling for the last 13 years – 1998 was the hottest on recent record, although it has been much hotter in the past. The Romans produced wine in Scotland, please explain.

  39. stred
    July 12, 2011

    Good news on the insulation front. After 6 years, during which time the manufacturers of fibreglass and foam lobbied to put the kybosh on thin multifoil insulation, the multifoils have obtained BBA certificates and we can use them. Instead of losing 12 inches off your room in order to insulate it to higher standards, you can now do it in 2 inches. New build can be built with the same wall sizes as before. The lobbying was based on a wrongly applied standard test. The original ‘french stuff that we had to take out’, as my building inspector called it, still has no BBA. They retired wounded. There are 3 British made products, some of which have an R of 1.9. They also cost less than foam at the moment. The cost of foam has doubled. We can now look forward to avoiding freezing to avoiding death in our old age, providing the power is not switched off altogether. This is a possibility if the present policy continues.

  40. Fay Kelly-Tuncay
    July 12, 2011


    It’s a great time to strike back. The Greens are at their weakest, because green policies are either failing or lack support. David Cameron looks like the Greenpeace poodle after accepting the carbon budgets. I think this will come to mark the end of his political career. The reality is the windmills still need 90% back up by either gas or coal power, so why bother with wind at all! And we now know there is 250years worth of shale in the UK and much more in the US – so there is really no energy security crisis.

    And some more facts John

    We know that scepticism amongst the public on global warming is increasing. Last year a GALLUP poll indicated 43% of the British public did no think global warming would be a threat to them and their family. A more recent poll of a thousand people showed that 75% do not see global warming as a threat .

    The full-time, well paid Green lobbyists are aware of their lack of public support are so desperate they are resorting back to the failed climate scare tactics see The Times: “Climate-related disasters overseas should be used by the Government to persuade British voters to accept unpopular policies for cutting carbon emissions, says Sir John Beddington, the Government’s chief scientific adviser.”

    It makes no difference that there is no link between extreme weather events and CO2!

    The Greens have no popular support – they treat the public like foolish children – in the interest of democracy and the economy we should stand up to these Green climate scare bullies. Repeal the Climate Scare Act sign here

    1. uanime5
      July 13, 2011

      Actually the Greens are at their strongest as they finally have an MP.

      Opinions polls aren’t a substitute for scientific evidence. The facts say that Climate Change is real and is caused by high levels of CO2.

      Your claims about the power of the Greens varies from sentence to sentence. Are they weak and without any support, in which case they won’t be able to do anything; or are they powerful and have a large number of professional lobbyists?

      1. BigJohn
        July 13, 2011

        > “The facts say that Climate Change is real and is caused by high levels of CO2.”

        Unproven rubbish

        1. uanime5
          July 14, 2011

          Climate Change is supported by every reputable scientific institution. It has been proven time and again.

          1. S Matthews
            July 14, 2011

            True climate change is proven, we had ice fairs on the Thames a few hundred years ago, and a few hundred years before that there was the medieval climate optimum, a bit warmer than today.
            However modern day climate science has not established any causal link to humanities efforts other than in local land use issues.

          2. APL
            July 15, 2011

            uanime5: ” Climate Change ”

            Yes, S Matthews, well spotted. The usual disingenuous use of language, like Humpty Dumpty the Green fascists a word means just exactly what he chooses it to mean, nothing more nothing less.

            In addition to your point, the whole of Northern Britain was carved out by the encroachment and retreat of massive Northern glaciers. In fact much of Scandinavia is still rising with regard to sea level, a result of glacial isostatic adjustment.

            Mile thick ice sheets, that’s what I call global climate change, and all before the industrial revolution.

            It’s a mystery!!

  41. uanime5
    July 13, 2011

    We have this problem because high levels of Nimbyism meant that Labour couldn’t build any new power plants. Both nuclear and green projects have been opposed, meaning that when the power plants go off-line there will be nothing to replace them with.

    Looks like we’ll be buying a lot more energy from France in the future.

    1. APL
      July 14, 2011

      uanime5: “of Nimbyism meant that Labour couldn’t…”

      Another false statement. Labour hauled the Tories over the coals about their plans for the subterranean disposal of radio active waste. It was Labour that put a stop to the policy and they replaced it with nothing but empty rhetoric.

  42. Electro-Kevin
    July 13, 2011

    If cutting carbon emissions are the true objective then will reduced consumption – because of the impact of the recession – contribute towards those targets ?

    If people are already buying less, petrol gas and electricity because they can’t afford it then surely there don’t need to be green taxes ?

    Why is Mr Huhne still doing that job btw ?

  43. Bazman
    July 13, 2011

    Removing the profiteering and cartel like behaviour of billing companies would help reduce prices. Who are the energy supplies of this country supposed to be for the benefit for? People earning minimum wage unable to afford to pay for gas and electricity as the bill is more than 10% of their earnings cannot be right and the cause of that may involve government green policies, but is far from the cause of fuel poverty and anyone who argues this is an apologist for rip off billing companies and energy generators. Like the banks they are just another tax on everyone and industry privatising profits whilst at the same time on the scrounge for handouts to ‘manage’.

  44. lojolondon
    July 14, 2011

    John, I get so frustrated with the whole green thing – the facts are :

    The earth has been cooling since 1998
    CO2 is NOT poison, it is plant food
    Windmills are not a reliable source of energy, so they need 100% backup, hence they are 100% a waste of money and resources.

    Please can we expose this, fire Huhne and bring some sanity to the situation?

  45. lojolondon
    July 14, 2011

    John, if you listen to your constituents and the public, please explain why you ignore the fact that almost every post here is anti-green, anti-Huhne, anti Windmills. We know that the whole movement is a total scam, power grab, political pressure, and a tax-grab from Europe. How can Westminster be so dumb??

    reply: I do not ignore opinion, and did not vote for the Cilmate Change Act.

  46. lindsay McDougall
    July 15, 2011

    Retire fossil fuel power stations to comply with EU regulations. You mean the that Germany is retiring its fossil fuel stations?? Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho.

  47. Bazman
    July 19, 2011

    Graham Bartlett Managing director of E.ON has said that energy bills could double in the the next ten years depending on what happens to wholesale prices, world demand, green issues and the cost of’ rewiring’ Britain, as he puts it. Tellingly he also blames the customers for driving up the industries costs by creating a merry go round with 15% of customers switching suppliers each year. There you have it. The customer is guilty of driving up costs by shopping around for the best deal and trying to avoid a blizzard of billing schemes designed to confuse the customer and making it difficult to avoid rises. He also said “if you look at it over a 10 year period, lots of of other things have risen in price by a lot more than energy, such as petrol, eggs, stamps and the TV licence. What has that got to do with the price of cheese you may well ask? Up 136% for your information. He neglects like many other fantasists and apologists to say that wages are now less or the same as they where 10 years ago for most of the population. The industries answer to these rises is to put out advice to lower bills by more efficient use of energy by modern boilers/appliances, efficient lighting, insulation and switching off unused appliances. I did and am doing this for the last ten years, there is nothing more that can be done, so higher bills or colder house Mr Bartlett? Maybe we should just sit in the kitchen with the gas cooker and a small florescent bulb for company? You can be sure he will not be doing this and his claims of only 19 million profit on electricity and a loss on gas are not backed up by findings of the toothless regulator. According to a new Ofgem report, the “big six” utilities actually made £3bn from their UK supply and generation businesses, instead of the £2.2bn stated as earnings before interest and tax.
    In the new review, the regulator found that Scottish and Southern, ScottishPower, RWE npower, EDF and E.ON included £800m of profits from their supply and generation businesses under a variety of other headings in their accounts, mostly as exceptional items. How much of a’ myth’ as he puts it, is that against the industry not making excessive profits.

  48. Van Breakdown Cover
    August 2, 2011

    Really it is a nice blog post I like very much.

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