My Intervention at the Ministerial Statement on Energy Security

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Over the last 48 hours, wind has generated as little as 1% of our electricity, and it was at 2% when I checked this morning, while of course most of the homes we represent use gas for heating. Will the Secretary of State confirm that we need to get on with issuing more production licences for domestic oil and gas, which cuts the carbon dioxide involved and will enable us to keep the lights on, which we cannot do when the wind does not blow?

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: My right hon. Friend is characteristically correct that we cannot always rely on a single form of electricity generation. As the French have found out, we cannot always rely on nuclear. I think France has 71 nuclear power stations in its fleet, but about half of them are down at the moment, so it cannot rely only on nuclear. I was discussing this very fact with my opposite number yesterday. I know that my right hon. Friend welcomes the £700 million development approval cash that we have put into the first new nuclear since the 1980s, and he is absolutely right that we need a broad spread of different energy forms to ensure that we can provide the cheap power we require at all times.


  1. oldwulf
    November 30, 2022


    Your question was: “Will the Secretary of State confirm that we need to get on with issuing more production licences for domestic oil and gas ….”

    Where is the answer ?

    1. agricola
      November 30, 2022

      Possibly in the 2024 manifesto.

      1. Hope
        November 30, 2022

        As Guido pointed out Shapps did not know the difference between energy supply and electric supply. He just wanted to point out how important wind machines are! Idiot does not read daily figures from electricity out put otherwise he would realise what a small amount of electric these useless wind machines produce! Worse the half wits want to rely and be dependent on EU primarily France, Holland and Germany!

    2. Nottingham Lad Himself
      November 30, 2022

      Sir John makes a first class argument for a Europewide (or wider) grid so that power can be sent from where the sun is shining or wind blowing to where it isn’t. It is almost never calm and dark at the same time over such a wide area.

      Then there are the rapidly-developing means of storing such energy from days of plenty for others.

      Thanks again – wise heads will see that it comes as a matter of course.

      Reply We have plenty of interconnectors but the continent is power short!

      1. Mark
        November 30, 2022

        The problem is that if you rely on wind and Europe relies on wind and there is a large enough area of slight winds there is never going to be enough power for all of us, however many interconnectors you build. Western Europe is basically part of a common weather area, with weather systems sweeping across it. Sometimes they bring wind everywhere, and sometimes they leave us all in Dunkelflaute. There are even times when the wind is blowing almost nowhere on land or close by around the world. The idea that it is always windy somewhere and that will solve the problem is false. The only way would be if there were affordable, truly massive scale storage, but that remains a pipedream.

    3. Atlas
      November 30, 2022

      … indeed; and answer came there none …

      The man is obviously under orders from others.

    4. Ian B
      November 30, 2022

      @oldwulf +1 – he hasn’t been given permission by his depatment heads to answer that

  2. Peter Wood
    November 30, 2022

    Why is Mr Shapps in the Cabinet? I believe the following is actually stated on his CV : ‘If you only want waffle and nothing actually done, appoint Grant Shapps.’

    1. Bill B.
      November 30, 2022

      Yes, Peter, that’s why he’s in the Cabinet.

    2. Mark
      November 30, 2022

      Shapps seems to be determined to prove that so far as energy is concerned he is even more of a chocolate teapot than any of his predecessors. He has no real understanding of energy at all, demonstrated by the poor quality of his answers to Parliament, including the howler of assuming that electricity is the only energy we consume.

  3. Richard
    November 30, 2022

    I note he did not answer the question.

    1. rose
      November 30, 2022

      It could mean they are terrified of upsetting the eco activists by saying yes to our own gas at last, or that they are frightened of saying no to Sir John. Or that they haven’t decided yet. A very unsatisfactory way of governing in an emergency.

    2. Clough
      November 30, 2022

      The answer was no doubt pre-written for him by some civil service type, but surely a minister is responsible for whether it answers the question he was asked. If he ducks that responsibility, he is effectively saying he is no more than a spokesperson for the civil service.

      Shapps and the Speaker, for allowing his behaviour, are both debasing Parliament in my view.

  4. Stred
    November 30, 2022

    It was a pity that Mr Shapps announced that the proposed, but as yet, not completely funded Sizewell C will be given to the French nationalised EDF to build another of their disastrous EPR nukes, which was over time and over cost in Flaimanville and Finland and has been closed in China because of faulty fuel rods. The average time to construct and run a nuclear station in the rest of the world is 7 years according to the nuclear trade publication. Why can’t we order one that works and much less expensive. Perhaps SJR could look into this and ask Mr Shapps whether he knows about the problem and whether he buys things that have failed and are very expensive when he goes shopping. There are contributors to this site that have all the information.

    1. agricola
      November 30, 2022

      Why not order 15 SMRs from Rolls Royce. Sorry, how naive, we are dealing with political and civil service government.

      1. hefner
        November 30, 2022

        11/11/2022 ‘Rolls-Royce SMR selected by developers bringing new nuclear to West Cumbria’.

      2. Mark
        November 30, 2022

        Because they are not yet type approved, and are only drawing board designs. We need to start by ordering proven technology that can be built on time and on budget. The SMRs can come later. Korea and Japan and even the US do this better. Poland has just ordered one reactor from the US and another form Korea.

        1. Fedupsoutherner
          November 30, 2022

          Mark. It wouldn’t do to upset the French.

          1. Mark
            December 2, 2022

            I think we need to get the French to re-adopt their much more sensible nuclear policy of the past. If they were to produce a cost effective design that could be built fairly rapidly it would help. It was, after all, what they managed to do 40-50 years ago, building over 50 nuclear stations. They (and we) need to abandon the EPR. With the recent rumblings in the press about the start up of Hinkley Point being delayed potentially as late as 2036, it is plain that this is not a technology on which we can rely.

    2. Original Richard
      November 30, 2022

      Stred :

      Absolutely correct.

    3. acorn
      November 30, 2022

      The Westinghouse AP 1000 is probably the only reliable competitor; alas, now owned and patented by China. Hence Rishi won’t be buying any of those or the Russian version. China is upgrading the AP1000 MWe to a CAP1400 and CAP1700 MWe versions to compete with the EPR1600 MWe.

  5. Clough
    November 30, 2022

    So – no commitment by Shapps to domestic oil and gas. That tells us what we want to know.

    Meanwhile, here’s what your party in government is actually doing, Sir John:
    ‘By 2023 the government is set to increase renewables capacity by 15%, supporting the UK’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.’ Guardian 23 Sept 2022

    No-one in government has the slightest interest in the 2019 manifesto, because they know that come 2024 the media will be there to memory hole whatever the Tories said in the past.

  6. L Brooks
    November 30, 2022

    Noted that Shapps ducked the real question.

  7. Donna
    November 30, 2022

    Sir John didn’t ask about nuclear – current French or possible future British. He asked about domestic licenses for more British oil and gas.

    Once again a Minister has REFUSED to answer the question.

  8. MFD
    November 30, 2022

    That was a political answer from Mr Shapps, does he think the public are so stupid as to accept his mealy words?
    I am fed up with stupid people like him, NOT FIT FOR HIS POST should be written on the letter sacking him.
    We do not care what the EU are doing, its our home land we care very much about- he needs to think on that .

  9. agricola
    November 30, 2022

    Not only have this government run down the readily available sources of indigenous fuel, gas , oil, and coal while praying to their false god Nett Zero; just to make sure they tax the North Sea producers at 75% and ban any contribution from fracking. A sure fire suicide note for their political future.

  10. Bloke
    November 30, 2022

    Grant Shapps and others are sloppy in meandering around the subject, merely replying without answering the question asked. Discipline is lacking. The Speaker should intervene more instead of tolerating such waffle.

  11. Alicia
    November 30, 2022

    Another 11 years to complete Hinckley Point C according to the “Daily Telegraph” due to endless problems.

    Despite that, Sizewell C which is identical is still going ahead.

    So now you’ll eventually have two enormous white elephants which don’t work.

    Sorry, three white elephants which don’t work because the Conservative Party doesn’t work either.

    1. Mark
      December 2, 2022

      It is unclear what is really going on here. I suspect there is a combination of fear of the new windfall profits tax, and the opportunity to perhaps make a bonanza if electricity prices remain high by not exercising the CFD and getting much higher market prices. The CFD is currently valued at £113.83/MWh on the assumption that the lower base price of £89.50/MWh in 2012 money will apply: the base price could be £92.50/MWh if Sizewell C doesn’t go ahead under the original deal, giving a price of £117.65/MWh on a current indexed basis (with a ~10% jump coming up in April when the annual indexation is applied). Market prices are substantially above that at the moment, giving a very strong incentive not to commence payments under a CFD. Moving the longstop date back allows the CFD to be called on later should we finally get our act together and produce competitively priced power. Meanwhile, inflation is eroding the real value of the financing debt already incurred and covering the interest bill.

  12. Mickey Taking
    November 30, 2022

    A disgrace – he clearly indicated a refusal to answer a question most of the country wants to know, and its not covered by Official Secrets is it!

  13. George Brooks.
    November 30, 2022

    That reply is an insult to one’s intelligence and neither the Minister nor his department seem to understand the potential crisis ahead this winter. All very well have a gas boiler but it doesn’t it doesn’t work without electricity .

  14. Nigl
    November 30, 2022

    Another non answer. Spreadsheet Shapps who lobbied against his own Covid/traffic calming measures in his constituency, classic double standard nimbyism, failed to close our borders quickly enough and then unnecessarily either stopped or put in a ludicrous costly testing regime that achieved nothing but spoilt tens of thousands of foreign holidays.

    Obviously he cannot give/get an answer because of Net Zero push back politically and his own civil servants.

    Sums up yesterdays comments about incompetence.

  15. Ralph Corderoy
    November 30, 2022

    Why does the Speaker not demand the minister answer the question? Did he used to in earlier times? The Government must have a policy on issuing production licences for oil and gas and the minister should have stated that. Still a non-answer, but at least on topic.

    As for France’s problems with nuclear, these are not due to nuclear power but a Western Government’s green-energy policy decisions over many years.

    1. Ian B
      November 30, 2022

      Ralph Corderoy – and why should the roving politics in another Country stop our Government functioning? Or is that were todays orders come from

  16. Jo Beaumont
    November 30, 2022

    Thank you for this, I heard it on R4 this morning!!! A mention of the german study by Zoologists (as reported on The Daily Sceptic site 24th November amounts others) into the massacre of bats by windmills would be an interesting take, considering the rules and regulations for building in this country.

  17. DOM
    November 30, 2022

    I see this morning that OFGEM is totally committed to destroying the British economy by embracing NZ Socialism to combat something called climate change

    Sir John and others like him or NOW simply a tiny hindrance to what seems the inevitable laying waste of Britain

  18. Nigl
    November 30, 2022

    This is said without a scintilla of shame in respect of Hinkley Point only being delayed by 11 years because of this government’s incompetence and lack of urgency.

    I get fed up with MPs accepting rubbish answers.

  19. IanT
    November 30, 2022

    Grant Shapps is an idiot – an idiot in charge of our non-existant energy security.

  20. IanT
    November 30, 2022

    Grant Shapps is an idiot – who unfortunately is charge of our non-existant energy security.

  21. glen cullen
    November 30, 2022

    Thats called a ‘brush off’

  22. Mark J
    November 30, 2022

    We cannot keep on siphoning off farm land for other purposes, including solar and wind farms.

    One of your previous articles stated we need to grow more of our own food, to rely less on imports.

    However, how can this be achieved, to support a growing population – when ever more farmland is used for housing and solar/wind farms?

  23. Original Richard
    November 30, 2022

    Grant Shapps firstly did not reply to your question. He then trashed nuclear followed by announcing a paltry £700m on a nuclear development fund.

    Grant Shapps : “….we need a broad spread of different energy forms to ensure that we can provide the cheap power we require at all times.”

    The National Grid ESO Future Energy Scenario “Leading The Way” for the electricity decarbonisation date of 2035 shows that the plan is for 80% of our electricity will be from expensive and intermittent wind and solar renewables and only 7% from nuclear. In fact I don’t understand how the nuclear can be as high as 7% as the only possible nuclear plant which could be working by this date will be the duff technology of EDF’s EPR at Hinkley Point C, which generating 3.2GW will represent just 3% of the total.

    So no “broad spread of different energy forms” and apparently just 3 hours of energy back-up when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

  24. ChrisS
    November 30, 2022

    Mr Shapps is quite wrong : we should be able to rely on Nuclear power generation.
    Recent French presidents have neglected their network, failing to plan replacements for aging stations and not investing sufficiently to extend the life of others. Hollande, like most socialists, disliked Nuclear and wanted to scale back France’s dependence on it.

    The French have enjoyed decades of cheap reliable power because they built 56 nuclear plants, almost all of which were built to a single design thus achieving huge economies of scale. The UK continues to build one off nuclear plants, some of which are untried technology and therefore our cost per Mw are far higher.

    With Rolls-Royce’s SMRs we at last have a chance to expand our nuclear power generation with real economies of scale.

    It can’t come soon enough

  25. paul
    November 30, 2022

    More money to be earned closing down the north sea at 25% tax than extracting oil and gas at 75 %tax and then move on.

  26. XY
    November 30, 2022

    Another question goes unanswered (the licences question).

    I understood that you were allowed to have a follow-on question – why did you not do that when the guy doesn’t answer???

    The whole system is designed to allow politicians to slide off questions, but it’s a poor show when the rules allow you press and that doesn’t happen. The whole HoC/HoL, written questions etc is just pantomime, no substance or real use to it whatsoever.

    Reply No, not allowed

  27. Narrow Shoulders
    November 30, 2022

    Couldn’t bring himself to answer that wind was not the answer instead deflecting to nuclear.


  28. Keith Collyer
    November 30, 2022

    Exactly how does increased use of gas reduce carbon dioxide?
    The answer to the problem is energy storage. And surely “sir” John knows that wind isn’t the only low-carbon form of energy generation?
    In other words, the question is a combination of sophistry and casuistry and adds nothing to the debate.

    Reply Because domestic gas replaces imported gas with higher CO2. Wind is the dominant renewable investment in the UK. Do try and keep to the facts.

  29. Ian B
    November 30, 2022

    “I think France has 71 nuclear power stations in its fleet, but about half of them are down at the moment, “

    What has that got to do with UK security of its own energy, its resilience in the long term or self reliance today and tomorrow?

    The French problem is one of bad design and poor quality materials – Oh and who is the only people allowed to produce UK nuclear, now over budget and a generation behind on delivery?

  30. D Mack
    November 30, 2022

    What about a building full of Rolls Royce modular reactors? Proven technology, British made, more employment and profit which all stays in the UK.

  31. Mark
    November 30, 2022

    As we are finding out we cannot always rely on interconnectors – which is why National Grid has had to issue Capacity Margin Notices requiring generators and interconnectors to ensure that their capacity delivery guarantees can be met, which is fine until force majeure intervenes.

    Shapps’ comments about French nuclear reveal he has not understood that the reason why they have a large problem is that most of their nuclear capacity was built in a huge wave in the 1970s/80s, and it is now simultaneously becoming old and in need of repair and replacement – something that should already have been underway, but for the anti nuclear policy of M Hulot, the former clown who was Macron’s first energy minister and the stupid adherence to EPRs as the permissible type, despite the Flamanville prototype still not being commissioned.

    Our own stupidity in going for EPRs at Sizewell follows, as we see the continued erosion of our own nuclear capacity, already down from 13GW to just over 4GW, because we have not been building more in a timely fashion. We also face the problem that our CCGT capacity was also mainly built in a short timeframe under the “dash for gas”, and will shortly start to become old and in need of replacement in order to keep the lights on when the wind dies, for which Shapps has no plans. Windmills will not do the job.

  32. a-tracy
    November 30, 2022

    We don’t have energy security.

    We don’t seem to have water security in England. It makes me wonder why 70% of foreign pension funds invest in the English water industry; how is there room for these foreign pension investment funds when our ‘workplace pensions’ need suitable, safe, dividend-returning investments? We are told we have water bans, we have to conserve whilst these foreign-owned companies cheat us on sewerage, and leaks, and insufficient investment in reservoirs; we are allowing them to swoop, raid and take advantage of this monopoly service with no demands or protections for us. Water wise we are owned by the US, Canada and Australia (it’s unbelievable) and the Middle East. Why weren’t there provisions that they kept up with reservoir builds and improvements to sewerage? Forced more than 50% of the companies to be owned by UK investment companies?
    Didn’t they have regulations and investment promises when they were sold?

    1. Hat man
      November 30, 2022

      Because, a-tracy, national sovereignty quite simply doesn’t matter to the people running this country. I’m not offering this as a new discovery on my part – the answers to his questions in Parliament that Sir John is routinely fobbed off with make that pretty clear. Think of the country as governed by an occupying power, and you’ve got where we are. It’s only if you cling to the old-fashioned notion that our rulers are somehow acting in our interests as a sovereign nation that things will seem so puzzling.

      1. a-tracy
        December 1, 2022

        I feel that way too Hat man, but surely our pension funds aren’t governed by this occupying power too? What am I talking about, that’s probably what workplace pensions are all about, more control of the working classes by taking another 8% of them to use in more dangerous investments than safe UK water shares. I hate feeling like a soft-headed sheep.

    2. hefner
      December 1, 2022

      The ‘water’ was finally privatised in 1989 by the third Thatcher government, after they had first tried in 1984 then in 1986 but with public opposition. Having won the 1987 GE this was reintroduced and voted in Parliament, no doubt with the ecstatic support from some of their new MPs (Hansard, 09/03/1989, 24/05/1989, 19/10/1989, 01/11/1989). The overall market was ‘re-regulated’ following the 2014 Water Act.

      England and Wales are the only countries where the provision of water is fully privatised. It was supposed to introduce competition therefore lower prices to the consumer and improvements to the provision, distribution and subsequent treatment of waste water.
      We all know how brilliant these have been in subsequent years.

      ‘Privatization of water in the UK and France: What can we learn?’, Utilities Policy, 2004, 12, 1, 41-50.
      ‘Liberalisation of the English water industry: What implications for consumer engagement, environmental protection, and water security?’, Utilities Policy, 2019, 60, 100939.

      1. Mark
        December 2, 2022

        The main purpose of water privatisation was to end the fiasco of decades of under-investment in pipes and sewers and treatment plants. It was always first in line for government budget cuts on capital spending, and in consequence the assets had fallen into a parlous condition. By taking it away from the government budget a more sensible capital spending programme of repair and replacement could be undertaken in exchange for regulated charging for the work. Then the EU Water Directive intervened, which altered the priority to measures to reduce per capita demand including by price rationing, rather than investing in assets.

  33. Michael Saxton
    November 30, 2022

    Disgraceful response from Grant Shapps.

  34. Margaret Campbell-White
    November 30, 2022

    Why on earth do we not use wave power, I am sure the Severn Estuary and others around our shores would provide all the power we need all the year round, not only when the wind blows.

    1. Mark
      November 30, 2022

      Wave power actually depends on the winds over the ocean. When it is windy, the waves are too strong to risk an RIB across the channel for illegal migrants. When it is calm they come. Unfortunately we cannot order up wind over the ocean to exclude the migrants and generate power at the same time. In any case, devices designed to harvest energy from the waves have proved to have a rather short life before suffering mechanical failure due to too much stress in storm conditions. It makes wave energy very expensive, aside from being hopelessly intermittent.

      Intermittency and high cost also more or less rule out the use of tidal power. The tides and energy generation vary hugely with the phases of the moon every fortnight, affecting both tidal stream and tidal barrages. The tides may be reasonably predictable (although things like storms can throw the predictions off a bit), but the times of maximum generation keep shifting by 50 minutes a day because of the orbit of the moon. That means a high chance of no tidal power just when you need it most, or lots of power in the middle of the night when you need it least. There are long periods spent waiting for water levels to change before generation can start (or equivalently for the slack tide to stream fast enough to turn the turbines). When you do get power from the tide you have to switch off other generation to accommodate it. That means you have to have full backup available and running until you open the wicket gates to the turbines. Invest twice over.

  35. turboterrier
    November 30, 2022

    It is enough to make grown men cry.
    Yet another member of Parliament trying to operate well outside his limits of competence. Another who should at the end of his yearly performance review have stamped on his employment records Totally Unfit for Duty.
    Therein lies the problem far too many of our elected representatives are candidates for the same treatment.
    Central Offices of all the major parties should be taking a long hard look at themselves as they are in the same category.

  36. colin carter
    December 1, 2022

    and no comment on gas and oil from shapps. sorry, but can’t trust this government.

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