I am sending the following letter to the Energy Minister. It reinforces the points I made to him in the recent Commons Committee (available on the site under Debates on renewables)
Mr John Hayes MP
Minister of State, Department of
Energy and Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2HH
26 March 2013
I am worried about the future reliability and costs of our electrical power system. In recent years there has been a preoccupation under EU policy with introducing high cost renewables, primarily wind farms. These require back up from conventional power plants for periods when the wind does not blow. Now under another EU Directive there are plans for the accelerated closure of our coal fired and some oil fired stations which have generated an important part of our power in recent years. This week saw the announced closure of 2000MW at Didcot at the end of the month, and 1000MW at Fawley. There are also plans to convert Drax to burn processed timber, a dearer fuel than coal.
The UK has a growing population. The government is pursuing an industrial strategy designed to increase the volume of energy using manufacturing based in the UK. Both these require more power to be available. We need cheaper power as part of the package to encourage more industrial investment here. It is taking time to grant the permits and find the right incentives to get new combined cycle gas and nuclear power stations built. In the meantime we need to worry just how the lights will stay on post the closures.
I urge you to go the EU And say the UK needs a longer transitional period for phasing out the coal power stations. We need to have in place not only all the extra renewable capacity, but also the standby back up capacity that windpower requires. We need to have the additional capacity that a rising population and more industry needs. The aim should be to negotiate a longer phase out period to get us over a period of vulnerability in our power supply.
I suspect we can attract support for modifications to the EU rules, as other countries find themselves in similar difficulties. Germany is especially hard pressed given her decision not to use nuclear. If , however, the EU refuses to co-operate we might need to keep the stations open anyway and pass a suitable short UK law saying we are modifying the EU requirements owing to an overriding national interest.
The Rt Hon John Redwood MP
Member of Parliament for Wokingham
CC: The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
PS Now John Hayes has been moved to the Cabinet Office and Michael Fallon takes over at Energy, this letter will fall to be answered by him automatically. I will also highlight it to him by sending him another copy in his own name.