My Intervention in the Energy Bill (Lords amendments)

John Redwood, Wokingham, Conservative: 
I agree with the Secretary of State that we need more energy independence and more domestic energy, so why does the Bill propose a 140% increase in imported energy through interconnectors, which will make us more dependent and very vulnerable?

Grant Shapps, Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero:
My right hon. Friend makes an excellent comment, as ever, on interconnectors, but I would point out that with the growing number of interconnectors, particularly electricity interconnectors, last winter, for example, we were able to export 10 TW to France through interconnectors, providing us with income. The answer is that they work in both directions, and in some cases, they provide the reliability of, for example, France’s vast nuclear fleet of 56 reactors. When whose reactors were down last winter—because even nuclear power sometimes has to come offline—we have been able to export our power to France, and it has been a net export. Our mission is to secure the clean and inexpensive energy that Britain needs to prosper.


  1. Mark B
    May 12, 2023

    Good morning.

    Grant Shapps, Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

    Would that be the same, Grant Shapps that introduced the Smart Motorway Scheme which has been proved to be so dangerous, that it has been stopped and those parts of our system that have been converted have to have their hard shoulders rebuilt ?

    . . . we were able to export 10 TW to France . . .

    And how much have we bought from the French ?

    When whose reactors were down last winter—because even nuclear power sometimes has to come offline—we have been able to export our power to France . . .

    So in other words, only when the French really need our energy do they import, otherwise, we have to mostly import from them.

    Anyone else get the feeling we are subidising and paying for the upgrading of the French Nuclear Industry and the expense of our own ?

    Oh and finally. Our kind host talked about energy independence so the UK would not have to face this :

  2. Bloke
    May 12, 2023

    If we became energy independent we wouldn’t need to depend on France supplying us.
    Selling some to them is a benefit, but not while we need it ourselves.

    1. Mickey Taking
      May 12, 2023

      instead of selling energy to France we could have lowered the price to UK consumers, thereby encouraging production and growth.

    2. graham1946
      May 12, 2023

      Depends on the price we get. I bet we made a loss on it all and pay far more for French energy than they paid us.

    3. Ian+wragg
      May 12, 2023

      Only a fraction of what they sold us at higher prices

  3. Donna
    May 12, 2023

    If Shapps was being even relatively honest he’d have reminded Sir John that thanks to the BRINO deal the treacherous Not-a-Conservative-Party foisted on us, we are obliged to comply with the EU’s Net Zero and Energy Interdependence ambitions.

    We may no longer be stuck IN the EU. We are stuck TO it.

    Of course, the chances of Shapps (or any other Government Minister come to that) being relatively honest are extremely low.

  4. formula57
    May 12, 2023

    When an artificial intelligence chat bot replaces Ministers’ answers it will lack credibility unless it replies to your questions with some words akin to Minister Shapps “My right hon. Friend makes an excellent comment, as ever,,,”.

    With the ever growing and now lengthy list of Ministers who profess agreement with your views it is astonishing that this government remains so inept. Perhaps the civil servants are in charge though.

  5. Narrow Shoulders
    May 12, 2023

    Typically evasive answer from the author.

    A follow up written question to ask what the net total was between imports and exports over the year and what the forecasts for the future are?

    Reply Yes, done

  6. Les
    May 12, 2023

    It could be that Mr Shapps is being a little too clever by half here. Was not the surplus power exported by UK to France generated by massive imports of fracked LNG from USA?

    1. Mark
      May 12, 2023

      You are correct – even coal was used at times last summer. Moreover, it appears that Mr Shapps was incorrectly briefed (although he should have instinctively known that if he were on top of his brief) – perhaps he should correct the Parliamentary record. I downloaded the half hourly data from BMRS Exelon back to last April. We did export approximately 10TWh on a net basis over the period from April through September, which I think was summer rather than winter. Over October-March we imported 6TWh net. Gross exports were 7.6TWh and gross imports 13.6TWh over that winter period.

  7. Beecee
    May 12, 2023

    What a disgraceful reply!

    Clearly a Minister out of touch with reality.

  8. Douglas Caster
    May 12, 2023

    The Grant Shapps answer is unsatisfactory in that “10 TW” is a rate of energy flow. What is important in this debate is the net position. How many Terra Watt Hours flowed out compared to how many Terra Watt Hours flowed into the UK through connectors. It is interesting that France having little indigenous coal, no oil reserves and therefore no option but to invest in 56 nuclear power plants to provide energy security. It is difficult to believe that with such an extensive fleet of reactors that there was a need to import energy. What other factors were at play here?

  9. David Paine
    May 12, 2023

    Plausible answer but then begs the question “why don’t we aim to build excess capacity in the UK at a time when European countries seem to be vulnerable?”.

  10. glen cullen
    May 12, 2023

    Interconnectors can be switched off, by the issuer, a third party or hacker at just the time you need it most ….to rely upon interconnectors is a folly into madness

    1. Mickey Taking
      May 12, 2023

      You can bet your last dollar (sorry) that Putin has had a team evaluating how to disable many of the Interconnections when he sees the need to cripple countries in Europe. It is clear that he has ships with ID beacon turned off whenever practising drills to reach undersea cabling or pipelines.

  11. Michael Cawood
    May 12, 2023

    Our energy security needs to come above everything else including net zero which will lead to poverty.

  12. agricola
    May 12, 2023

    Any politician who does not see the absolute strategic need to be fully energy independant is not working in the interests of the UK.
    We have the gas, oil, and coal ; had we not legislated not to extract it, to provide us with our energy needs for the period up to the introduction of Rolls Royce SMRs being systematically brought on stream. Two problems I detect.
    First government refuse to use our own oil gas and coal. They are so up their own backsides in praying at the altar of nett zero. They prefer to besmirch our coast and countryside with Chinese windmills, even though their product is extremely unreliable.
    Second, for their love of all things EU, our scribes have set the minds against SMRs and are using delaying tactics to avoid their introduction.
    This is not conspiracy theory, it is conspiracy reality. Face it ladies and gentlemen wherever you care to look our goverment is a walking disaster in terms of creating the framework for a progressive and commercially successful UK. They arrived illigitimately and are destined for obscurity, as soon as possible please.

  13. Stred
    May 12, 2023

    They are probably hoping that when we are down to 1 British reactor working in 2 years time, Hinkley still overdue and over cost, gas stations ageing and wind and solar still at 35% capacity and hydrogen and carbon capture not working, the French will have all their old nukes going and will be delighted to make up the backup when they just about have enough themselves.

  14. Mark
    May 12, 2023

    I see that the Economist is carrying an article with estimates that show there were 68,000 excess winter deaths in Europe due to high energy prices, exceeding the attribution to covid. I recall warning that high energy costs were going to kill large numbers of people. The high costs are the result of bad energy policy. Net zero policies kill, as perhaps they are designed to do. It is hard not to draw the same conclusions about policies to reduce farming and prevent the use of nitrogen based fertilisers, which will reduce food production and drive up prices. Perhaps the King and Queen of the Netherlands learned something from their visit a couple of days ago to a farm in the North of the Netherlands.

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