38 Comments

  1. Micky Taking
    November 24, 2021

    A commitment to Nuclear Power? How much will it cost? Who will supply it? What design will be used? What percentage of electric supply will be met once it is ‘over ready’? (not todays requirement, but when we use electric for transport, domestic heating and industrial use previously gas?).

    Reply
  2. SM
    November 24, 2021

    My goodness, your raised left eyebrow conveys your reaction very clearly, Sir John.

    Reply
  3. formula57
    November 24, 2021

    So the Minister has dealt with the immediate risk of security of supply by being dramatically and one hundred per cent. committed to nuclear generation whilst acknowledging it will not necessarily “bear fruit in a week or a month” – so we can hope for a harvest come January perhaps? He sounds Patel-esque and I for one am re-assured, oh yes!

    And as for more gas, that is coming (or not) from managing the transition to net-zero. Mr. Kwarteng’s ability to re-assure is unparalleled and I trust he has not forgotten his promise that the U.K. will not witness power cuts this winter.

    Reply
  4. Sir Joe Soap
    November 24, 2021

    So nuclear power for the long term.
    The short term answer is we live off waffle-we try this we hope for that.

    Reply
    1. jerry
      November 25, 2021

      @SJS; Indeed but as the minster suggested, past govts (and the electorate) have also to take more blame, those who wanted tax cuts rather than approve public investment by then State owned CEGB in the 1980s need to understand their part in today’s problems. If the UK had built five to ten nuclear power station in the 1980s we would now be well placed, for example cheap electric heating in the home would have become common (just as it did in France in the 1960 & ’70s) by the time north sea oil and gas supplies peaked, never mind the political needs from the Environmental & Climate hoaxes [1], rather than leaving us today to ‘live off waffle’ -and no I don’t mean those things made from potatoes…

      [1] which were originally used to justify the needless closing of the UK coal industry

      Reply
  5. Ian Wragg
    November 24, 2021

    With our crazy non energy policy, the whole country will go bankrupt.
    Ratcliffe power station is still scheduled to shut in 2024 making us even more reliant on wind and gas.We have coal ready for mining in zCumbria and large amounts of gas ready for fracking but Carrie Antoinette says NO

    Boris has got to go.

    Reply I have urged them to keep older stations available just in case.

    Reply
    1. Hope
      November 25, 2021

      Just in case! Texas the former energy capital of the US nearly went into blackout last year because of its change to solar and wind which did not work!

      How can such stupidity be allowed to continue JR?

      The excuse today global migrant cris by Patel! As always pass the blame and make it global failing!

      Reply
    2. Dennis
      November 26, 2021

      Reply I have urged them to keep older stations available just in case.

      Problems solved then – praise be to ….

      Reply
  6. Original Richard
    November 24, 2021

    The Secretary of the State for BEIS gave nonsense replies to your questions, but then he has a first class degree in classics and history whilst the transition to “net zero” is basically an engineering problem.

    Nuclear power is excellent for producing a reliable, stable, weather independent base load of power but because it cannot be quickly switched on and off it cannot provide the back-up for wind turbines when the wind doesn’t blow or for solar energy when the sun doesn’t shine (at night for instance).

    This backup for wind power is currently provided by fossil fuel generators, often running “hot” so power can be switched on and off quickly and certainly inefficiently compared to steady, constant running.

    Short term back-up (a few hours maximum) using Li-ion batteries is very, very expensive and long-term back-up does not yet exist.

    This also means that renewable energy has not even yet been able to be costed, particularly as the more wind turbines are added to the grid the more fossil fuel back-up is required.

    The North Sea Transition Deal is not about increasing the domestic supply of gas but in fact about reducing both the quantity of gas supplied and the amount of CO2 emitted during production

    Reply
    1. Original Richard
      November 24, 2021

      PS : I meant to write :

      This also means that renewable energy has not even yet been able to be costed, particularly as the more wind turbines are added to the grid the more non-fossil back-up is required which has yet to exist.

      Reply
    2. forthurst
      November 25, 2021

      Hadn’t heard of it before but on checking it would appear to be a cover to enable North Sea Oil and Gas to continue operations while the governance of the country is in the hands of green loons. Arts graduates love been re-assured by “carbon capture and storage” which does not exist because their knowledge of science is limited to buzz words and phrases which they use to reassure themselves that the techies will keep the lights whilst saving the planet from the Chinese.

      Reply
      1. forthurst
        November 25, 2021

        The North Sea Transition Deal

        Reply
    3. Mark
      November 25, 2021

      Whilst I am pleased to note that Mr Kwarteng has stopped pretending that more wind turbines are going to solve our problems (at least he has stopped claiming that publicly) I fear he still has little grasp of the extent of the problems we face. Pushing the relative small nuclear plans to authorise one new major nuclear power station within the present government term, and the limited support for SMR development really isn’t going to cut it – we are going to need substantially more capacity than he appears to envisage, but nuclear capacity will take a number of years to bring on stream.

      Mr Redwood is right to draw attention to the need for reasonably secure gas supply, preferably from our own fields, and then from Norway’s by direct pipeline, with other Western LNG sources following on. I note that alongside the cargoes of Russian LNG that we are now buying we have been getting supply from Peru, and finally again from the USA after a long hiatus – US supplies being at risk from Biden’s policies. The moves in the West to stop funding fossil fuel projects need to be reversed: we need them, especially in more friendly countries. Enabling them in other countries might help to turn them into more friendly ones (and ones that are less beholden to China) as they benefit from sharing the supply and the economic benefits it brings.

      When we look back to the previous period of tight gas supply and soaring prices after Fukushima it is notable that the UK indulged in fairly extensive switching to coal use for generation to minimise the need for expensive imported LNG, with some contracted supplies from Qatar being resold into Asian markets. That should have been policy again on this occasion. Gas import history:

      https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/W0qOT/2/

      Reply
      1. Sakara Gold
        November 25, 2021

        @Mark
        As usual, your reply is disingenuous and distorts the facts regarding UK domestic gas production.
        In 2020, UK gross gas production was 439 TWh, stable on 2019. UK gas production has been
        broadly stable for close to a decade following several years of decline since the peak in 2000. Despite this the UK remains a major producer of natural gas, sitting within the top 20 gas producing countries globally and the third largest in Europe.

        Pipeline imports from Norway accounted for a third of total supply, the second largest source of
        natural gas following indigenous production. LNG tanker imports are way down the list in third place. LNG import sources have diversified, so improving UK security of supply – 48% Quatar, 27% USA, and Russia at 12% (reduced from 15% in 2019). 6% of our LNG imports come from Trinidad and Tobago. During winter at any one time 7-9 LNG tankers are on the high seas, destination UK.

        Following the conversion of the Bacton import pipeline to an interconnector we now export domestic gas production to Belgium. What we really need is more gas storage capacity, as a buffer against a bad winter. Once the latest phase of Dogger is complete we will be able to export tremendous amounts of ridiculously cheap green electricity to Europe using the interconnectors. The profits should be used for a LCOE competition between the various contenders for grid-scale energy storage systems.

        Reply
        1. Mark
          November 25, 2021

          The attempt at being disingenuous is as usual all yours.

          Total UK gas production for January-August 2021 amounted to just 17 billion cubic metres (bcm), down from 24 bcm over the same period in 2020. I provided a chart of gas imports by source with data from Energy Trends, the BEIS publication. I note you seem to be quoting the figures I presented in the chart. For your edification here is a chart of the history of net UK gas production, and the OGA’s forward forecast published in September. It shows a forecast continuing decline in production on the basis of present investment activity (or rather, lack of it).

          https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/Zr3l5/1/

          Do you think that exporting electricity at negative prices is a good idea (as we have already been doing at times of high winds)? Why should UK consumers subsidise consumers on the Continent by paying out on CFDs to allow that to happen?

          The Zeebrugge pipeline was always a two way affair. It was built with a view to exporting surplus production in the days when the UK was more than self sufficient in gas, with added pipeline imports from Norway, and pumping capacity was later enhanced. It had the capability to import to help meet winter demand peaks. As I have already pointed out in recent weeks, both the Bacton gas pipelines have been operating in export mode, with the UK acting effectively as an offshore LNG terminal for Continental gas supply in order to help them try to fill their storage, and perhaps with the hope that the flow might be reversed in cold winter conditions. However, that may prove a forlorn hope given how tight gas supply on the Continent has become.

          Reply
      2. Ian
        November 25, 2021

        We must hope that
        Sir John will be picked ASAP , and that he will be able to pick his team .
        And the Country can be be in good shape in no time
        Happy Christmas everyone we will soon be in safe hands
        Ian

        Reply
        1. Micky Taking
          November 25, 2021

          I’ll have whatever you have been having…

          Reply
  7. MPC
    November 24, 2021

    Thank you Mr Redwood, a very concise question the like of which you will no doubt regularly put to accountable Ministers. Craig Mackinlay was sitting near you and he was also impressive when on Jo Coburn’s Daily Politics recently. She would probably be happy to have him back – but I fear the quality of his contributions will mean that the programme’s editor may well think otherwise!

    Reply
  8. acorn
    November 24, 2021

    JR, why didn’t you press the point about the difference in MWh prices in the UK, compared to the price at the Norway end of that interconnector? Today we have £243 /MWh at the UK end of those wires, while the price at the Norway end is £92 /MWh. In the last few settlement periods before this post, there have been prices over £3,000 /MWh (300 pence per kWh). UK gas prices at £80 / MWh (8 pence /kWh) are only about 5% above Dutch Hub prices. If you own a CCGT power plant, fuel gas at 8p a kWh while selling your electric at a median of 20 pence /kWh, is a very nice little earner.

    Reply A good point but I needed to make the simpler and more fundamental point about capacity and reliability of supply

    Reply
    1. formula57
      November 24, 2021

      @ acorn – never before in the history of this diary (as I recall) has anyone been told they make “A good point”! My unreserved congratulations to you. Well done!

      Reply
    2. Mark
      November 24, 2021

      The interesting feature of the North Sea Link to Norway is that the Norwegians have restricted it to operating at only 50% of capacity – i.e. 700MW instead of 1.4GW. They face many demands for exports of electricity, having direct links with Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. A few weeks ago, reservoir levels were trending downwards and threatening to reach new lows for the time of year, ahead of the winter peak demand and at the end of the smowmelt season. It was understandable that they sought to avoid threatening their own supplies by exporting too much. They also have an interest in not importing sky high prices from the Continent and the UK, especially with the high demand period of winter looming. Profit is being made through the price difference. I did see that National Grid just reported a 47% increase in profits, and the trading rules for NSL mean they are likely to be enhanced further, as the profit from the price differential goes to them:

      No charges are levied by NGNSL onto market participants for the use of NSL capacity. For any
      hours in which there is a congested result the net surplus of income resulting from the implicit
      allocation process, commonly termed congestion rent, shall be paid as revenue to NGNSL and
      Statnett. Congestion rent is calculated by reference to the clearing price (€/MWh) difference
      between GB and NO2 per hour multiplied by the volume (MWh) of the flow over the
      interconnector in each such hour, as adjusted by the loss factor published on the NGNSL
      website.

      Reply
    3. Mark
      November 24, 2021

      Not so sure about your CCGT economics though. With the constant ramping up and down of capacity, average efficiency of CCGT plant is only around 48%. So the cost per MWhe is about twice the cost of the gas. Then you have to allow for the UKA carbon tax, which is adding a further £20+/MWh to the cost – and then all the other costs of operation and maintenance and capital financing that have to be recovered. That gives a wholesale cost that tends to be in line with the market wholesale price for significant periods of time. Higher prices occur when other plant sets the market price because CCGT is no longer marginal, being run at available capacity. Current retail prices are insufficient to cover costs, which include the charges for the transmission and distribution networks, renewables and green scheme subsidies, as well as the actual costs of running the retailing operation, including a share of grid balancing costs. Because the sum of all these is above the OFGEM cap, we will be seeing big increases in retial prices the next time that is adjusted, in order to recover the losses the cap is imposing

      Reply
  9. Donna
    November 24, 2021

    Like everything else about Johnson’s Government, Energy Policy is ludicrous and shambolic.

    He’s testing to destruction the adage “Oppositions don’t win General Elections, Government’s lose them.”

    Reply
  10. alan jutson
    November 24, 2021

    John
    I guess due to P{alimentary procedure it is not possible to ask a follow up question, to an answer that is so full of bul….t.it is pointless

    But can a few of you not get together, under the correct procedure, to ask more questions/interruptions, whatever is needed, and try and hammer home the point that you know you are being fed a tissue of absolute nonsense, and would like a proper answer.

    This is simply not democracy in action at all, it is deliberate evasion.
    The present parliamentary system is failing and it is becoming more and more obvious to everyone who is looking at it.
    Thank goodness it is now televised, can you imagine the scale of evasion if it were not.

    Reply No you cannot ask a follow up. I do sometimes after the event by asking the Minister directly or follow up with a public written question.

    Reply
  11. alan jutson
    November 24, 2021

    Reply – Reply

    Thanks for the answer John, but i fear that unless MP’s get proper answers to straightforward questions, Government, Parliament, and its so called democracy, will eventually just become an irrelevant sick joke, and people will eventually take matters into their own hands, with alternative action, with an alternative economy which will grow and grow, and eventually by pass what is at present deemed as normal procedure.
    Politicians will eventually reap what they sow, if they cannot be honest with the people, do not expect people to be honest with the government !.

    Reply
  12. DOM
    November 24, 2021

    Bulb. ‘Green energy for all’

    What a load of bullshit we are seeing from the Green cretins not scattered throughout the political, medial and academic classes who care only about the political control this issue gives them. Their lies and their deceit are not being exposed by politicians except a handful whose voice is not being heard

    And now the Channel tragedy exposes again the British and French governments and all those who support mass immigration into the UK for all corners of the world

    Labour and the leftwaffe have blood on their hands and many in the Tory party except honourable politicians like Mr Redwood should hand their filthy heads in shame

    Reply
  13. No Longer Anonymous
    November 24, 2021

    Peter Hitchens was right.

    Boris Johnson is leading us on a jolly picnic with his jolly Tiggerisms, only for us to discover that he hasn’t brought any food or drink for us – he Tiggers on and on but (to quote a Tory MP), he’s cracking jokes and nobody’s laughing anymore.

    Boris’s magic has gone.

    Reply
  14. NotA#
    November 24, 2021

    As Gordon Brown stated when he sold off the UK’s nuclear power manufacturing capabilities – the UK has no future in nuclear energy. And he needed the money to pay for his political squandering of the UK.

    The UK’s new response is to buy in from our trusted partner in all things power – the French.

    Whichever way you shake it out the UK taxpayer is charged twice over for the same

    Reply
  15. Richard1
    November 25, 2021

    Thanks for asking the question. As you will have noticed, at least on the excerpt you posted, mr Kwarteng did not answer your question, he made a vaguely related point about the increase of nuclear in the very long term, albeit the govt have chosen an expensive way of doing that.

    Reply
  16. miami.mode
    November 25, 2021

    It has been reported that Bulb will be taken over by the government and the cost may well be around £1.7bn. Doubtless the government will be unable to charge more than their own energy price cap which probably means a loss on current prices and thus more costs for taxpayers. “Hoist by your own petard” hardly does justice t0 the situation.

    As it is generally the better-off who would change to a supplier such as Bulb this again will be the poor subsiding the rich

    Reply
  17. Original Richard
    November 25, 2021

    Sir John,

    You asked the question :

    “What action is he [Secretary of State for BEIS] taking to expand the capacity of our generating system for days when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?”

    A (large?) part of the answer can be found in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy document and this is the use of the electricity stored in our EV car batteries and the use of demand management:

    For instance on P66 (amongst others) :
    “For example, innovative technology could support smoothing of electricity demand, by allowing electricity stored in [EV] batteries to be fed back into the grid at times of low renewable generation or high demand (vehicle-to-grid technology). Smart charging (enabled by regulations that Government plans to lay later this year) will also help to move demand away from peak times as well as helping consumers to benefit from lower cost off-peak electricity.”

    So if the wind drops overnight we may find by the following morning that our EV batteries are flat and electricity is many times the price is was the day before.

    Reply There are not enough EVs out there to do that yet

    Reply
    1. Micky Taking
      November 25, 2021

      reply to reply. and it will be years and years away.

      Reply
    2. Original Richard
      November 25, 2021

      “Reply : There are not enough EVs out there to do that yet.”

      That is absolutely correct but it is part of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy plan when EVs increase in number.

      The sentence before the two I wrote above is :

      “More EVs will affect both the scale and nature of electricity demand, including the timing and scale of peaks, as patterns of charging behaviour develop (e.g. many people choosing to charge at the end of the working day). The changes this could bring need to be carefully thought through, and opportunities seized.

      And “opportunities seized” ?

      On P100 of the Net Zero Strategy is written :
      “The deployment of smart technologies and flexibility will underpin our energy security and the transition to net zero. Flexibility from technologies such as energy storage, smart and bidirectional charging of electric vehicles, flexible heating systems, and interconnection could save up to £10 billion per year by 2050 by reducing the amount of generation and network needed to decarbonise.”

      What is “bidirectional charging” but charging and discharging our personal EV batteries?

      So we may be connecting our EVs to the charger overnight expecting a “top-up” (the best way to ensure the longevity of Li-ion batteries) only to discover they are flat by the following morning because the Government has decided to use the energy elsewhere.

      Reply
    3. Mark
      November 25, 2021

      Even if we move to all EVs their contribution will be at best very limited. Say 30 million vehicles prepared to loan 20kWh of storage each gives a total of 600GWh provided it is full to begin with. Daily demand in winter even before we start charging EVs or using electricity extensively for heating easily exceeds 1,000GWh. It would only take one day of cold spell with no wind to discharge all the available storage. What do you do on day 2? Of course, many vehicles would not be grid connected during peak demand hours, because they would be in use for commuting etc. Discharging the storage would of course impose an extra demand of 600GWh to refill it again as soon as there was spare capacity to do so. Some of the storage would in any case be needed to replenish road transport use, so there would actually be little point in drawing it down and refilling it again, given the round trip losses in the process which are likely to be at least 25%.

      V2G is a green pipedream, and really is just a way of trying to get grid batteries for relatively short term grid stabilisation on the cheap, and hoping that consumers don’t notice the cost in complicated two way chargers and battery degradation. I looked at the trials run by Cenex which relied on providing a lavish bribe for resupplying the grid while not charging for the equipment (£5,000 per charger). It would make more sense to invest in dedicated grid batteries directly. Batteries are in any case now looking like a very expensive solution, with lithium carbonate prices have reached new highs of over $30,000/tonne and every prospect that Chinese control of the market will only force them higher.

      Reply
      1. miami.mode
        November 25, 2021

        Mark, you can just imagine charging your vehicle at a public charging point to get you home at whatever the cost only to find that when you plug in at home the grid steals it from you.

        Reply
  18. glen cullen
    November 25, 2021

    So what’s the argument for baling out energy companies but not manufacturing companies….is this a new Tory policy ?

    Reply
    1. Micky Taking
      November 25, 2021

      like France bailing out Peugeot, Citroen, Renault you mean?

      Reply
  19. Bryan Harris
    November 25, 2021

    Thanks for sharing

    I imagine if a minister did something different from his answer to a Common’s question, that he would have be very public about his reasons?

    Reply

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