Blackout Britain — why our energy crisis is only just beginning

Costly green measures are behind our rocketing energy bills. But as politicians dither, an even greater crisis awaits

16 November 2013

9:00 AM

16 November 2013

9:00 AM

BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, has been headquartered in Germany since before the country formally existed. Founded in 1865 by the industrial pioneer Friedrich Engelhorn, it still occupies the vast site on the banks of the Rhine at Ludwigshafen where its first dye and soda factories were built. A third of its staff are employed in Rhineland Palatinate. It is a global company, yet as German as Goethe and gummi bears.

A few days ago Kurt Bock, the firm’s chief executive, warned that its Ludwigshafen plant may soon be forced to close, with BASF’s German jobs relocated elsewhere. The reason, he said, was Germany’s soaring energy costs and the crippling green levies being used to pay for ‘renewables’ such as wind farms. With German energy prices already twice as high as in the United States and likely to rise much further, the time had come to reconsider ‘the competitiveness of the location’.

BASF’s British rivals should take no comfort from this. For years Britain has, like Germany, chosen green energy over cheap energy — and piled regulation after regulation, levy after levy, on the providers of fossil fuels. In Germany the effect is now becoming apparent: the sacrifice of industry on the altar of environmentalism. It may sound like economic suicide, but it is precisely the policy which David Cameron’s government is pursuing.

Energy now stands at the very centre of British politics, a subject enlivened by Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze household energy bills. His policy is wildly popular, seeing as gas and electricity prices have roughly trebled in the past ten years. More than five million households are now in fuel poverty. As winter advances, the choice between heating or eating isn’t some abstract slogan, but a daily dilemma. Each winter in Brtain, some 25,000 elderly people die from the cold.

But the debate has been bizarre. Politicians from all benches of the Commons like to lambast the Big Six energy companies, without mentioning their own culpability. Mr Miliband talks about forcing energy bosses to take pay cuts. Meanwhile David Cameron and Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary, suggest the answer is to fiddle around with schemes such as the ‘eco’ levy which subsidises home insulation, and move them from fuel bills to general taxation, so cutting bills by 7 per cent. Nothing either side is discussing will make more than a temporary cosmetic difference.

While they bicker about trimming a few tens of pounds here or there, Parliament has been dealing with the closing stages of the Energy Bill. This, working in concert with its predecessor, the 2008 Climate Change Act, will inflict the biggest fuel bill increases of all. The 2008 measure enforces a legally binding carbon emission target for 2020. But because it’s much harder to cut emissions from transport and heating than electricity generation, this will mean trebling the proportion of power produced by renewables from its current 11 per cent over just six years.

The cost of this swift and radical transformation dwarfs marginal items such as the eco levy. According to the ‘levy control framework’ established by the Energy Bill, it means more than tripling renewable subsidies to £7.6 billion by the end of this decade. The total renewable subsidy which UK consumers will have paid via higher energy bills for the ten years to 2020 will be an almighty £46 billion.

Even this eye-watering figure is a massive underestimate. This week, the National Audit Office said bills were likely to rise above inflation for at least 17 years, with the cost of government commitments likely to be at least £700 per household. According to the energy experts Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University and Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital, the Energy Bill figure does not factor in the enormous cost of connecting wind turbines to the National Grid, nor the complicated switching mechanisms needed to deal with the fact that no turbine will actually produce power for more than a third of the time. They say the true green bill by 2020 could be more than £100 billion, with households paying around £400 more per household for electricity alone.

For voters, this will mean years of further cost-of-living misery. But for business, it may well lead to German-style bankruptcy. About two thirds of this legally mandated ‘dash for wind’ will be paid for by companies. Some will find it intolerable, and join previous casualties of Britain’s green revolution such as aluminium smelting. Those that remain will have little choice but to pass their bills on to customers — so many other things will become more expensive, too.

This year, unique among nations, Britain introduced a tax on emitting carbon dioxide, the ‘carbon price floor’. This means power generators must pay £16 for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit. The Climate Change Committee, set up by the 2008 Act, has determined this should quadruple by 2030 — for the 2020 emissions target is only the start. The Climate Change Act already imposes still more ambitious targets for 2027 under what is termed the ‘fourth carbon budget’, which will see electricity generation almost entirely ‘decarbonised’. According to Atherton, the cost of effecting what will amount to a revolution in the crucial industry on which all others depend will be about £300 billion — a figure very close to the NAO’s. Here too the pain in store for British business is unique. No one anywhere else has enacted binding targets beyond 2020.

This is where Germany’s present agony becomes instructive. The infrastructure of the most costly power ever invented, offshore wind, is well-advanced there, though in Britain it remains in its infancy. The result, as Der Spiegel reported recently, is that green subsidies have already ‘reached levels comparable only to the eurozone bailouts’. This year, German consumers will pay a total of €20 billion for power from wind, solar panels and biomass — of which a staggering €17 billion is subsidy.

Earlier this year, BASF decided to build a new ammonia plant in the US because the American shale gas boom, which caused electricity costs to plummet and hence an industrial rebirth in the rustbelt states. Last Tuesday week Hariolf Kottmann, who runs BASF’s Swiss competitor Clariant, said he no longer had any reason ‘to invest a penny’ in Germany: ‘We had two or three projects planned. Now we prefer to invest in the United States.’ He said the renewable levy the firm was paying for its factory in Frankfurt-Höchst had almost doubled since 2011 — making energy twice as expensive as in China and America. And yes, he mentioned those two countries in the same breath.


As German companies know, things could be about to get worse. Germany has so far exempted manufacturing companies from most of their renewable subsidies. The European Commission has launched an investigation, and may now declare that this amounts to an unlawful state subsidy. If the exemption is removed, BASF says it would expect to pay an extra €400 million a year just for Ludwigshafen — a total which will, of course, only rise. A further 300 German manufacturing companies get the exemptions. What’s the point of eurozone bailouts if German industry, which survived the great recession so well, collapses?

Britain’s Energy Intensive Users’ Group, representing businesses on which 800,000 jobs depend, has pushed the government for similar exemptions. Some have been offered, though a government report last year admitted that British business will soon face the highest green costs of any of 11 major industrial countries surveyed — 50 per cent more than in Germany and nearly twice those of France. ‘The industries with the heaviest reliance on electricity are also those most sensitive to foreign competition,’ says the group’s director, Jeremy Nicholson. ‘Thousands of jobs will be lost.’

It isn’t easy to disentangle the impacts of energy and climate policies. Official documents are written in a jargon that is virtually impenetrable. Worse is the sheer Panglossian dishonesty of the policies’ exponents. Ed Davey’s Department of Energy and Climate Change says that energy bills will be 11 per cent lower by the end of the decade, and the minister invites our applause. But the small print reveals a distinction between ‘prices’ and ‘bills’. The price of electricity, he admits, is set to rise by at least a third because of his green policies. So why the cut in bills? Better insulation and boilers, apparently — and, one might add, lower demand, caused by rocketing prices and thicker woolly jumpers.

It isn’t hard to conceive an exit from this strategy: repeal the Climate Change Act, abolish its targets, and stop the Energy Bill coming into force. We could get on with fracking and so release our colossal reserves of clean natural gas. Professor Hughes says that to retool the electricity industry to rely on modern ‘combined cycle’ gas plants would cost about £15 billion, with no subsidies necessary. This would be following the American example, where carbon emissions have fallen to a 20-year low because they are so much lower in gas than in coal. We could then invest some of the billions currently spent on wind on research into non-fossil energy sources such as nuclear fusion — much closer to viability than most people realise.

But the intellectual shutdown in British politics means that such ideas cannot be publicly articulated. Some cabinet members — notably George Osborne and the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, a keen supporter of fracking — have a sense of the looming crisis. But while the coalition remains in office, they are powerless: green energy is the closest thing the Liberal Democrats have to a religion. Nor is Ed Miliband likely to tear up the Climate Change Act he authored — and anyway, it’s politically useful to him to cast energy companies as national villains.

In the unlikely event that the Conservatives win an outright majority, it’s far from clear that the party is capable of thinking clearly about how to avoid this catastrophe. Even Osborne ended up signing the most expensive deal in energy history. Astonishingly, the Chancellor has guaranteed to pay EDF almost double the market price for power from the nuclear plant that is to be built in Somerset, for 40 years. Why would he do that? Because the Tories have not allowed themselves to think rationally about energy for at least eight years. Even if they want to avert disaster, they don’t know where to start.

Britain is sleepwalking towards the same economic calamity for which Germany is now bracing itself. Even ministers who can see the coming disaster lack the power (or knowledge) to change course. They will be all too aware of the absurd truth: for all the crocodile tears about rising energy costs, all three parties have agreed upon a range of policies specifically designed to cause prices to soar — with the inevitable consequences for families and businesses. The current squabbles about energy bills are just a prelude: a far bigger, deeper and more dangerous crisis awaits.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

David Rose is a writer for the Mail on Sunday. His first novel, Taking Morgan, a thriller set in Oxford and the Gaza Strip, will be published in January.

The Spectator is holding a day-long energy conference, ‘How do we stop the lights going out?’, on 2 December. See spectator.co.uk/events or call 020 7961 0044.

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Show comments
  • Nohourwastedinthesaddle

    As winter advances, the choice between heating or eating isn’t some abstract slogan, but a daily dilemma. Each winter in Britain, some 25,000 elderly people die from the cold.

    Which, for a society that has seen the most progressive advanced state of everything the world has ever known (except wisdom), is shocking. And though poverty as a fact is ineradicable, the main blame must lie with the Left and its unworkable, irrational, and poverty-making policies.

    What you are saying is that British politicians cannot face reality. And you rightly predict what that will mean for all the rest, who MUST face reality. Thank god I moved to the USA. At least here there are some that still fight for the rational management and growth of our national resources. At least here we still believe that humans have the right to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves, without prostrating ourselves before the false gods of communism and Gaia.

  • Bonkim

    Not just green measures. Pre-privatisation, the nationalised electricity industry had a responsibility to plan ahead and build generation capacity to meet demand with a good margin. Profit was not the main driver and generation, transmission, and distribution were integrated. That strength is now lost and the new energy Cos maximise revenue and profit in their areas of business.

    • Aaron Oakley

      Private does not mean unreliable.

      • Bonkim

        Private Cos operate within their business areas – not responsible for supply security or new generation.

    • Tom Tom

      I really liked Lord Marshall at CEGB and Dennis Rooke at British Gas – you felt they saw guaranteed supply as National Security

      • Bonkim

        That was the CEGB’s responsibility – to provide electricity within +/- 2% of rated voltage and keep the lights on.

        • ChilliKwok

          Yes, but if we had a CEGB today, like DECC, their sole objective would be to ‘tackle climate change’, whatever the cost in soaring fuel bills. How would that be any better than the current system? What we need is to get the idiot posturing politicians out of our power system. Ed Davey couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery and yet he’s running around signing blank cheques to subsidy farmers like EDF which commit us to paying ever more for our energy for the next 35 years FFS!!!

    • Tom M

      Yes I remember when the NCB mined the coal and the Gas and Electricity were made from it. The NCB was deemed to have made a profit every year but the Gas and Electricity Boards complained bitterly they could but foreign coal cheaper. The British public paid. The government subsidised the industries and bought union peace in turn whenever it was needed. It was all hidden but the public couldn’t care less.

      Now the government has less authority and no money to cover these things up as easily so they get noticed by the pubic. Especially when it hits their pockets.

      • Bonkim

        Regardless of the government underwriting the bottom line and supporting the nationalised industries and also the main power plant contractors by allocating contracts evenly, the real cost of energy sent out was much lower than it is today – simply because there were no millionaire CEOs and other intermediaries with their hands in the honey pot.

        Also the electricity Board forward planned for industrial action by the Unions, etc and kept the lights on. International prices for coal from Australia, S Africa and China were rock bottom because of very cheap labour and open caste mining – so no comparison there.

        In principle the real costs were low and supply security high because most fuel was domestic and not controlled by other countries.

        Whilst supporting private enterprise, UK energy sector has now got a stranglehold over supply, and minting money out of capital assets built by the nationalised sector all those years ago and still running well.

        Contrary to perceptions there is no real competition in the supply industry, a small oligopoly has the main generation and supply business and sets its own prices.

        For those that are not quite in the know one of the big energy Co – EDF (Electricite de France ) is the French Nationalised Electricity Giant aiming to build the next Nuclear station at Hinckley point with huge price support from our government.

        The nationalised industries were breaking even – only the government wanted new capital assets to be built with private finance and the exercise of privatising has failed completely – just look at BT, the water, coal, electricity and Rail industries, and now Royal Mail – and see whether real prices (indexed for inflation) and performance (consumer satisfaction) has got better or worse. the greatest risk now is security in all these industries as control has passed away to greedy oligopolies.

        • Tom M

          “…Also the electricity Board forward planned for industrial action by the Unions, etc and kept the lights on….”
          My God that’s rich! You don’t remember then the 3 day week when you looked up your town’s name in the paper to find out when there would be any electricity.
          When you rant on about nationalisation being the panacea for all ills remember this. Currently UK electricity costs 0.179E/Kwh. The average EU price is 0.197E/Kwh. Germany,Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark (home of the wind turbine), Austria, Poland, Sweden and quite a few others all have considerably higher electricity costs than the UK. Privatisation seems to be giving you cheaper electricity than most others in Europe.

          I remember the other industries you mention when they were nationalised before.

          Take steel for instance. Hugely overmanned and underinvested in the 70s and 80s. Would a Socialist government invest money into an industry that everyone knew was oversubscribed world wide? The business sense said no but then again you can’t put steel workers (labour votes) on the dole can you? So they did neither, but the public paid. Decisions were made (or not) according to political imperatives. That’s not how you run a business.

          Same story in coal and shipbuilding. Remember the NCB being held to ransom by Arthur Scargill? He insisted no colliery should ever close if there was an ounce of coal remaining in it whether anybody wanted it at whatever price it cost to mine. Sound reasonable to you? That’s what nationalisation brings.

          • Bonkim

            OFF-Track – the point was about forward planning new capacity – which the electricity supply industry and privatised generation Cos are not responsible for. Some that have been in the generation business and owned power stations have built gas fired stations to replace/add to coal capacity – but run that business separately – to repeat the present cost of electricity is no indicator of future – even allowing for the green subsidy.

            Planning and building new capacity needs an integrated approach, is very expensive and will reflect in future price. Wait till the new nuclear comes on stream and gas suppliers hike their prices even more when the coal fired stations are shut down.

            Regards continental prices – no comparison – each location has different constraints and cost base. In Germany for example, domestic customer prices are much higher than that for industry – deliberate government policy.

            Many appear to be in denial that we can burn as much as we like for ever and carry on regardless of the serious threats of global warming and climate change – greatest danger – exploding human populations and fast depleting water, land, energy and mineral resources – regardless of Arthur Scargill or Unions or Private Cos wanting their cuts, we are on a river of No Return.

          • Tom M

            I think you are loosing yourself in the details of your argument.
            Eurostat produces comparative figures for electricity for all of the EU countries. They are exactly that. A comparison.
            When I go to a shop and compare prices I don’t qualify the price by comparing their cost base, constraints or management policy.
            It would appear that you are on one hand saying that other countries who pay more than the UK, as I pointed out, are doing so because of constraints (?), cost base (?) or government policy (tax I presume) whilst here in the UK we are paying less because of private enterprise profiteering without comparing our cost base and government policy (all the green taxes I would venture).
            You assume too much when you accuse me of wishing to burn fossil fuel for ever.

            I detect a Malthusian dimension to your perceptions. I agree about exploding populations but not about water. We have exactly the same amount as when we started.
            As far as mineral wealth goes I read an article recently, eruditely written, which claimed the world would run out of coal before 1950 I think it was. Replete with graphs and consumption figures written before the first world war. It clearly didn’t happen.

            In this sphere I suggest you read “The Age of Global Warming” by Rupert Darwal. He outlines all of the scare stories ever created and puts them and the current climate discussion into eloquent context.

          • Bonkim

            You need to have an understanding of the subject matter and linkages to grasp the significance of what you read.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            losing/loosing, a common error… among thickos.

          • Jackthesmilingblack


          • Tom M

            Even worse, the SI standards say it should be kW h.
            I was brought up with Kwh. It suits me.

            I think it’s the electrical equivalent of the apostrophe in the English language.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Tom, do yourself a favour; check your electricity meter.
            Upper and lower case is significant with abbreviations. Clearly you`re not seeking enlightenment, so why not make “I`m never wrong” your middle name?

          • Tom M

            Mmm. Now then Jack. The SI unit (those being the the most widely used in the world) for kilowatt hours is kW h (that is lower case “k” upper case “W” space and lower case “h”).
            The engineering textbooks on my bookshelves (albeit dating from the 60s) give me Kwh. You quote kWh. If that pleases you then it’s OK with me but if it is a what-is-the-correct-term argument then you are wrong also (assuming, that is, that you accept the SI system).
            I prefer Kwh because it gives a capital if starting a sentence. When mixed with other units like Kva, Kvar, Kvarh it reads better. That’s what they told me when I studied the subject.
            Check my meter? I’ve checked a few in my time and space prohibits the different ways people choose to cite this.
            I never said I was right as you claim. I only explained that there are different ways of expressing this. I did say, however, if it comes to a fine point then we are both wrong.

    • ChilliKwok

      I don’t agree with your insinuation that if we still had a nationalised electricity board, all would be hunky dory. On the contrary, a modern CEGB would be subject to the same degree of political interference and green posturing as our current rigged ‘market’ system. I think we’d be up sh1t creek either way with the current bunch of incompetent school boys in charge. But perhaps there’d be a few less CEO’s drawing multi-million salaries which might be some comfort.

      • Bonkim

        The point was an integrated organisation charged with securing cost effective power supply, transmission and distribution would have planned ahead and despite public sector inefficiencies delivered at a lower cost than the many profit oriented fractured generation, transmission and distribution Cos none of which are responsible for forward planning generation/transmission and distribution or keeping the lights on. Moreover the skills needed for integrated planning is non-existent. An integrated organisation also would have managed to integrate renewables and energy efficiency better nationally. In fact the green part of the Government agenda can be hived off to low-cost community/charitable organisations directly without involving the high cost generation and supply businesses who put a hefty mark up on this. Transmission system – the achilles heel of integrating renewables within a nationwide system also would have fared better.

        • ChilliKwok

          If we had a truely free and competitive energy market, without political interference, we wouldn’t have any of the current problems with sky-rocketing bills and unreliable supply. These have been 100% caused by politicians forcing suppliers to shut down cheap, reliable, conventional powerstations and instead open vastly expensive, intermittent, unreliable, wind and solar subsidy farms. Not to mention the idiocy of converting Drax from burning locally sourced coal, to burning American forests, clear-cut and shipped across the Atlantic. The current suicidal government energy policy would be equally bad under a nationalised CEGB or our current rigged ‘market’ system. Either way we’d have Ed Davey and the eco-loonies at DECC calling all the shots.

          • Craig Phillips

            I almost vomit every time one of these state sucking lefties extol the virtues of public sector ownership – facts just don’t seem to matter since they’ve already drunk the coolaid & nurse a 20 year grudge against Thatcher so really no point responding to the turd.

            Here in Australia, the energy generators are mostly owned by our state governments – in my state New South Wales, we have had the cost of energy double over the last 5
            years – ALL STATE OWNERSHIP!!

            Apparently the state governments have been milking the cash cow from work & investment from previous decades, but not reinvesting – now there is a big catch up that has to occur, with the largest rises from the government owned utilities in NSW and Queensland governments ( both labor Governments for over a decade until recently ) – the very situation “Bonkim” accuses the private sector of doing in the UK!
            Over here, this is not a cheap unsubstantiated accusation that a leftie throws at “big nasty corporations”, but a fact we are having to deal with and a result of state government plundering – and Labor governments at that!

            The amazing thing I found out was that most other state governments in Australia had experienced similar rapid electricity price rises over the last 5 years…apart
            from Victoria and South Australia.

            Neither of these states have seen such obscene price increases over this period – and BOTH the Victorian and South Australian electricity industries were privatized in the 1990’s!
            A fact which a goose like “Bonkin” might have noticed had he ever stopped rimming Arthur Scargill for 5 minutes!

          • Bonkim

            Are the privatised electricity Cos investing in new power stations? Is Australian coal going up in price because of sales to China and India? Australia has cheap open cast coal – who owns that?

          • Aaron Oakley

            State governments receive royalties for resources.

          • Bonkim

            All Governments get royalties from mineral resources.

          • Aaron Oakley

            so your point is …. ?

          • Bonkim

            Drax would have been shut down earlier if not for biomass firing. Also all UK coal fired power stations have been in service over 30/40 years and beyond their original design life. Renewables supply only a fraction of need and the new nuclear are supposed to replace the large base load stations needed.

            You are more or less pointing out that there is no single organisation charged to manage the long term planning of our energy system. No private enterprise will take the job on- regardless of whether public sector is better or worse than private.

          • ChilliKwok

            > Drax would have been shut down if not for biomass firing

            Only because government imposed CO2 taxes would have rendered it unprofitable, whereas the subsidies available for burning forests render it profitable. Without government interference it could have gone on burning coal for many decades – with gradual upgrades to further reduce SOx and NOx particle emissions.

            Instead, it has undergone an expensive conversion to wood burning – reducing the efficiency of the powerstation, increasing the cost of the fuel in both financial and environmental terms. It has gone from burning high energy density coal which no other creature needs, to burning low density wood, obtained at great expense from US forests – totally destroying a forest habitat the size of Wales every 3 years. All for a negligible impact on UK CO2 emissions which themselves make up a negligible part of global CO2 emissions.

          • Bonkim

            Whilst I do agree with some of the points you make – carbon reduction targets are set by EU and most countries in the EU have met them or exceeded. Even the US is on its way despite its dependence on coal and gas.

            Countries like Germany although building new coal fired stations are over-target and hence can afford to burn coal. Also new German stations operate at over 40% sent out efficiencies – whereas ours struggle to meet 35% and lower where FGD is fitted.

            Regardless of the above, whether generation is in the private or private sector makes no difference to the discussion, the main point of contention being forward planning, fuel mix and fuel security and integration of generation, transmission, and distribution under national control and hence ability to forward plan better.

            The fragmented nature of the industry with each Company trying to maximise revenue/profit from each of its component profit centres does not allow that as nobody is responsible for keeping the lights on.

          • Pete Ridley

            Hi Bunkim,

            I may be mistaken but I was under the impression that in the the USA electricity generation is in the hands of private companies yet have a highly effective (and competitive) industry which plans ahead perfectly well.

            Best regards, Pete Ridley

          • Bonkim

            Yes There are some big Cos and also many state power Cos. utilities let plant contracts to contractors on a design and build basis similar to the failed pfi structure in the UK but with lower mark-ups and commissions. Federal, and state governments have control via regulatory departments/agencies. Don’t think the US is not bureaucratic, it is and there are laws about all sorts of things and lawyers are kept busy. US industry is also traditionally not as greedy as their British counterparts in fleecing the public, also given the size of the country and energy consumption per head, competition is intense. The build plant in response to market, also construction costs are lower. US base prices for most goods and services are lower than they are in the UK and in Europe.

            Overall power is cheap in the US roughly half ours; German domestic rates are 75% more than ours although their industrial rate is much lower.

  • John WB

    A very fair summary of where we find ourselves. Unfortunately with a dim witted politician like Ed Davey in charge of energy policy, and the leader of the opposition Red Ed Milliband equally culpable for that poison pill that is the Climate Change Act, we are set on a course of action that will lead to decline for decades to come.

    It even makes you nostalgic for some of that French spirit of uprising to rid ourselves of the whole rotten lot.

    • Draughtsman

      I am sure that they are not dimwitted as such but rather they have allowed themselves to become transfixed like many others by the computer generated scare stories about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and are unsuited by temperament to have any appreciation and feeling for physical and engineering concepts and principles. Hence they believe that low grade and intermittent sources of energy such as wind turbines can power a modern industrial economy. Of course the further we go down this course the less of an industrial economy we will become.

      • John WB

        I would like to think you were correct about Ed Davey not being dim-witted, but unfortunately every time I see him interviewed his obvious lack of even the basic tenets of his brief leave me with no other conclusion that the man is simply a dim-wit.

        Totally unfit to hold any public office, let alone high public office.

  • greggf

    “Blackout Britain — why our energy crisis is only just beginning”

    Make no mistake this is something the Greens are hoping and praying for!
    Because a panicking government will be forced to authorize measures, overriding “planning difficulties”, that will provide the quickest supply of electricity, energy saving and restrictions and other nostrums of the Green agenda.
    Many more windmills anywhere and everywhere.

  • The man on the Clapham omibus

    While the limp dimwitted tail wags the dog nothing can be done! Labour are profoundly untrustworthy, and UKIP are deranged. How on earth are we to get a rational government?

    • global city

      The day after your post was made David Cameron, with no tail wagging his rosy cheeked dog insisted that he fully backs everything that the government plans, with regards to energy production, pricing and subsidy.

      I think that UKIP have by far the least deranged energy policies on offer… including an unfetted Tory party.

  • Swiss Bob

    If only Cameron was more like the Oz PM

    The government’s document also says that Australia “will not support any measures which are socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

    or even the Canadian PM:

    Canada has dropped any remaining pretences of supporting global action on climate change by urging other countries to follow Australia’s example in gutting its climate plan.

    Unfortunately we have the (global) village idiot.

    • Tom Tom

      Didn’t Prof anthony King call him a dilletante ?

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    • dalai guevara

      “His policy is wildly popular, seeing as gas and electricity prices have roughly trebled in the past ten years”
      …and what did we get for that in return? The most ancient energy infrastructure in Europe.

      But it does not stop there. You mention the Aussie PM. What have the Aussies got, after selling vast quantities of their natural resources to others? The largest current account deficit in the region.

      You don’t need to even suggest we emulate that. Consider it done, it’s already a fact.

      • clive

        You have it a bit wrong I would say.Our new Gov’t was left with this deficit by the previous Incompetent Comunist Gov’t.

  • cicero666

    The dark heart of the environmental movement wants two main things ; to kill off as many human beings as possible, and cripple economic progress. To that end it sells us a concoction of ideological poisons such as AGW/Climate Change denying us the use of hydrocarbons, talks nonsense about sustainability, no-growth economics, and the real killer : population control.

    • greggf

      Interesting cicero, because that self-appointed warden of the seas, Paul Watson, has admitted the Greenies are the next thing to terrorists and is busy searching for a home and passport having had them confiscated!
      Try the link, sorry about the French:

    • Trofim

      “The dark heart of the environmental movement wants two main things ; to kill off as many human beings as possible, ”

      I have it on good evidence that they are zombies in league with the green lizards from the planet Gug.

      • cicero666

        very amusing, but no seriously, this has become their ideology as with many of environmental groups. A co-founder of Greenpeace ( Patrick Moore ) left in the mid-1980’s because they had become too extreme, and anti-human. Read his book and comments since …

    • cicero666

      very amused at the arrest by the Russians of the Greenpeace terrorists/pirates. Hope they throw the book at them – playing silly buggers at sea with an oil rig – very dangerous and stupid.

    • MrJones

      it’s a self-flagellating medieval death-cult that craves punishment for those dark satanic mills

    • Mike Anderson

      In Australia, we recently had Dan Savage from Huff Post on ABC television. I quote, “You know, I’m pro-choice, I believe that women should have a right to control their bodies. Sometimes in my darker moments, I’m anti-choice. I think abortion should be mandatory for 30 years”.
      That this comment could be made without loud denouncement tells me the rhetoric has shifted so far that the notion of population control is no longer unacceptable prima facie.

  • David is right that we must ensure ‘green levies’ are effective and deliver value for money but this article unfortunately and worryingly misses the wider issue of how we keep bills down in the long-term.

    It fails to acknowledge that wholesale gas prices have risen by around 80% since 2000 http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn06751/components-of-an-energy-bill; which is a principle driver for raising our energy bills and not ‘green levies’. We must ensure we move away from increasingly unaffordable fossil fuels and the only way to do that is to invest in alternatives. Making green energy cost competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies requires research and public investment to bring down costs – thanks to investment onshore wind will be cheaper than gas and coal by 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

    To say that “fiddling” with schemes like ECO “will [not] make more than a temporary cosmetic difference” again misses the point. The UK has some of the cheapest electricity per unit in Europe but our bills are amongst the highest because we have hopelessly energy inefficient housing http://www.worldenergy.org/data/efficiency-indicators/. Schemes like ECO are exactly the remedy we need to solve this problem. What is a more pertinent point is we should consider whether this is added to our bills or added to general taxation, putting the emphasis on those who can afford to pay this short-term cost for the long-term benefit.

    • Swiss Bob

      No self interest on your part is there?

      NNFCC is a leading international consultancy with expertise on the conversion of biomass to bioenergy, biofuels and biobased products.

      Is it your company clear cutting virgin US forest, turning it into pellets and then shipping it across the Atlantic Ocean to burn in Drax power station because that’s the most f@kwitted greenery I’ve ever heard of?

      • Hello Swiss Bob, I actually work for the UK Energy Research Centre now and yes I share your concerns about unsustainably clear felling virgin forest, although I would argue that the UK has done much to eradicate such practices.

        But my point about this article is that there are very sound economic reasons for supporting ‘green levies’, whether or not you believe in climate change. We need to move away from fossil fuels. Without current subsidies for green energy we’ll end up paying more for our heat and power in 2030 according to predictions from DECC, CCC, UKERC and a host of others. Over my lifetime I do not want to pay a single penny more than I have for my heat and power.

        • Draughtsman

          Mr Aylott, I would be interested to hear about your organisation’s take on the LENR scenario. Excess heat from a hydrogen loaded metal lattice when suitably stimulated, whilst not fully explained, has been observed many times by reputable researchers. The problem has been in controlling and sustaining the reaction, but there are researchers in the field who are claiming right now to be able to do this and have designs in place for domestic hot water systems and also high temperature dry steam boilers for use in power stations. Brillouin Energy Corporation in the US is one such. Too good to be true perhaps – very cheap power and no emissions of any sort for some people to worry themselves about.

          • Nuclear fusion is not an area I have great expertise on and the UK Energy Research Centre hasn’t done much work on it either because the UK Research Councils don’t see it as a viable near-term technology.

            But there is lots of promising work on nuclear fusion taking place at the National Ignition Facility in California – just a few weeks ago the facility produced more energy than it consumed for the first time but it did cost $3.5bn to build for just a few watts of energy so clearly costs are still prohibitive and will be for the foreseeable future.

            When a panel of experts at the Symposium on Fusion Technology in Belgium last year were asked about the viability of fusion power, they said fusion was still 50 or 60 years away from being able to generate power for the grid.

          • Draughtsman

            Thank you for your kind reply. Yes the NiF is a huge venture trying to attain ignition by brute force but could I direct your attention to perhaps more subtle means of doing so like inertial electrostatic confinement (polywell) principle as is reportedly being actively pursued by the famed Lockheed Skunk Works in the US. Also in the US EMC2 Corporation is treading the same path with the US Navy as a potential customer. Other innovative approaches to fusion based on sound scientific principles are also being taken by other research groups around the world. For understandable reasons these groups are keeping their research results close to their chest.

            May I respectfully suggest that your organisation looks a bit more deeply into what is going on in the US and elsewhere in this regard and also at the LENR scenario. Brillouin Energy for example has a web site with links to articles about their technology which you may find worth a look.

            I would hate to see our country fannying around with wind turbines, burning wood chips for power and with clunking old style hideously expensive fission reactors when the US and other begin to have access to advanced generation technology.

          • AlainCo

            Just contact the swedish government… Just have not to frighten them with mindguards (politicians are shy when they face consensus).

            Or you can contact national instrument Boss Mr Truchard, of the “Big Physics Segment” of NI Stefano Concezzi. He have done conference in the pariliaments of Brussels and Rome in 2012… maybe he can do it again.

            you may also invite Luca gamberale or yannix Chardrichristos of Defkalion Europe and Defkalion Global.

            You can also invite Nicolas Chauvin of LENR-cars, and LENr-invest.

            Or invite tanzella of SRI, and Godes of Nrillouin.

            Or invite Dawn Dominguez, or Violante of ENEA, who replicates each otheres experiments with SRI too.

            Or invite Takahashi of Toyota Technova, or Iwamura of Mitshubishi Heavy instrustry.

            look also at the people present at the brussels conference in 2013 on “ffleischmann pons effect” by ENEA, where the LENR editor of Naturwissenschaften (ed Storms) and many people I cited were presenting results…

            Or contact the chancellor of research of Uni Missouri (Robert Duncan, if he is not already in texas)

          • Draughtsman

            Alain, thank you again. I was most impressed with the Robert Godes presentation. He has a very plausible explanation of the physics involved and I believe that he and his company are amongst those achieving real results. Your post underscores the fact that many reputable scientists, engineers and organisations are very active in this field.

          • Daniel Maris

            I agree we need to look at LENR – the UK is in danger of falling behind in that sector. We don’t seem to be undertaking any research. The Italians, Canadians, Greeks, Swedes, Japanese and Americans are far more advanced. The Americans have been working on it via NASA and the US Naval Lab. In Japan Toyota and Mitsubishi have both demonstrated LENR (transmutations). The Italians seem most advanced.

            This is a good introduction to the subject if you’re interested:


          • global city

            They are also doing some interesting advanced work on small scale reactors… bout the size of a truck they reckon!

          • Daniel Maris

            Forget hot fusion – we’v ebene promised that for decades and we are no closer. Cold fusion (LENR) is the way forward.

          • AlainCo

            The Research Consortium of Swedish electric industrials, Elforsk is currently working on that scenario.

            They tested one of the 3 LENr reactor on the ramp, and confirmed publicly it worked (no idea how, but not chemical, and sure huge energy).

            just true to find their last Business Magazine “Elforsk Perspektiv nr2 2013”, and some press release on Elforsk/E-cat

            I have made an “executive summary on lenr” and you should find it easily, with the long list of small and big business (Like National instruments, ST Micro, Toyota, Mitsubishi) and of big institutions like NASA,US navy, DoD, ENEA, Elforsk…

            beside few startups.

            You may not be sure, but please explain me why no media is even insulting the boss of National instruments , the Chancelor of research of Uni Missouri (Robert Duncann), the administrators of Toyota, Mitsubishi, ST Micro…

            If it was a scam, the news would say it is a scam…

            public money, corporate money is wasted on scam in dustry…

            or it is …

            just a HUGE mistake of scientific consensus… like the one you can list in “RIDICULED DISCOVERERS, VINDICATED MAVERICKS”… (only part of the list).

            best regards, and good luck when opening your eyes.

          • Draughtsman

            Alain, yes thank you I believe I read the report you refer to and I think it was Rossi’s HotCat apparatus that was under test. The excess heat effect appears to be real enough but what is needed is a an unequivocal demonstration of prolonged, stable, and controllable heat generation.

          • AlainCo

            right, that test, as says Elforsk is just a proof of reality of kW scale LENR.

            there are no evidence it can work for months staying stable.
            even the first test with destruction of the reactor let some think it is still unstable, yet quite safe…

            when getting uncontrolled, it simply get red hot and melt internally.
            Elforsk works on better tests on long term… after all, they are the client 😉 (or the R&D proxy of the client).

        • Swiss Bob


          The British Geological Survey (BGS) in association with DECC has completed an estimate for the resource (gas-in-place) of shale gas in part of central Britain in an area between Wrexham and Blackpool in the west, and Nottingham and Scarborough in the east. The estimate is in the form of a range to reflect geological uncertainty. The lower limit of the range is 822 tcf* and the upper limit is 2281 tcf, but the central estimate for the resource is 1329 tcf.

          1,300 TRILLION cubic feet should last us some time don’t you think, even if the recoverable is only 10-40%!

          • Draughtsman

            I always find it strange to see estimates, which are approximate by definition, quoted so precisely. Lower estimate 822 tcf is about 800; 2281 tcf is about 2300 tcf etc. I was always taught never to quote a higher accuracy than the limits of the experiment allowed.

          • Daniel Maris

            No vested interest there then either. 🙂

        • Tom M

          You know I cringe when I hear this “current subsidies for green energy” refrain. You do not fund the use of something (like wind farms) to make it a good idea you (might) fund the research. In the case of wind farms any amount of “research” is going to prove they don’t work when the wind stops. What exactly are you researching? What is it you are trying to improve subsidising wind farms the way we currently are?

          If it is a good idea then it will not need any subsidies at all. Think about mobile phones and flat screen televisions they actually improve the revenues of the exchequer. Not a subsidy in site.

          • Daniel Maris

            It depends (a) if you have storage and (b) long distance transmission. If you do then wind can be working in places and at times when there is no wind.

          • Tom M

            Before making statement like that consider this:
            The only way we can currently store energy is by pump storage systems. The only operate for a short time (usually hours) and, because it would be an add-on to the wind power, would more than double the capital costs (which are already ridiculously high) of a wind power scheme. Ignoring for the moment where you might conceivably site them.
            Long distance transmission? How long? I ask this in answer to the much stated comment (such as your post implies) that the-wind-must-be-blowing-somewhere.

            Given the size of a weather system is it possible that there might be no wind over the whole of the UK? Has this ever happened? The answer to both those questions is that it has and quite often. When it happened it happened to all of the UK and western mainland Europe at the same time. For the period in question Denmark’s wind turbines on Horn’s Reef produced nothing.
            As for the technical argument of “long distance transmission” you are discussing something about which you appear to know little.

            Given the above weather scenario (even if it only happened once in a lifetime) you would have to import all of the shortfall from continental Europe providing, that is, that they weren’t too effected by the same weather system and had spare fossil fuel capacity to send us. I know of no system existing or proposed that could cope with that quantity of electricity over those distances.

          • Draughtsman

            If there was plant other than hydro that was capable of storing energy on a grid scale sufficient to cover periods when wind turbines were producing little or nothing then I sure as hell would not want to be anywhere near one storing even a very small fraction of the total.

            I have maintained my own weather observations for years and in my experience days when the wind does not stir at all in winter are unusual. What is not unusual by any means however are periods of days in winter under anticyclonic conditions when the winds are very light, too light in fact for wind turbines to produce anything much at all and if it is foggy as well then forget solar. Energy security? I would rather trust the Russians than the wind.

          • global city

            Politicians, in ever listening to the greens, have opened a Pandora’s box of misery and convoluted. reactionary BS. We are now all paying the price…. quite literally!

          • Daniel Maris

            The Danes are the happiest people in Europe. They have the highest percentage of renewables energy production for electricity as well. They enjoy an incredibly high standard of living.

            Why are you spreading this nonsense?

        • dodgy

          …We need to move away from fossil fuels. Without current subsidies for green energy we’ll end up paying more for our heat and power in 2030 according to predictions from DECC, CCC, UKERC and a host of others.

          1 – No, we don’t. Read Julian Simon

          2 – No, we won’t. Look at the US.

          3 – If you cite the predictions of proven liars your arguments are hardly worth listening to, are they?

    • Draughtsman

      In the long term we are all dead and we need energy to be as cheap as possible as pensioners and others in fuel poverty are dying of cold now in the short term. Gas is more expensive now than it need be only because vested interests want it so. We all know that we have phenomenal amounts of shale gas of our own and while some sense is starting to prevail in that exploration is gathering pace in the UK, in other parts of Europe moratoria are in place. The amount of fossil fuel on a global scale is staggering, the Bazenhov shale formation in Russia for example contains enough oil to supply current world needs for 65 years – on its own.

      Yes we do need to invest in alternatives and I would see the use of gas for power generation only as a bridging fuel to advanced fission and possibly fusion power, which as Mr.Rose points out could be closer than we think. The use of low grade, intermittent, uncontrollable and unreliable sources of energy such as wind power are a blind alley for our struggling economy and hard pressed people and is quite simply totally unaffordable.

      Future generations, who will certainly have access to technology we cannot even conceive at the moment will look back in amused astonishment at our pathetic wind turbines and assume that our generation lost its collective mind.

    • freethinker14

      Rubbish, the switch from coal to gas has done this. Coal prices have not skyrocketed. This is a consequence of the green agenda.

    • VitaminP

      Matthew meant to say, “We must ensure we move away from increasingly unaffordable energy taxes.”

    • global city

      All utopian jam tomorrow .. based on cynicism, lies and idiocy.

      Cutting carbon just should not be a priority. We are paying a huge price for falling for the CAGW scam.

      Some other poster ( I think it is actually the author) placed this on another spectator thread… apologies, can’t remember the name now.

  • Tom Tom

    That is a very good article. BASF is a great company and owns Ludwigshafen and has fantastic facilities for staff. German companies have NOT been investing in Germany for years and I would expect Putin to be attracting more of them to Russia – BASF has a gas sub Wintershall which works with Gazprom and is the largest gas and crude oil producer in Germany.

    The demographics in Germany also play a part as well as restrictive tax treatments though Ireland helps get round those.The Greens have been the most destructive force in European politics since the NSDAP because they are the same – Monomaniacs with an absolutist Fetishism

    • Bonkim

      Domestic customers are taxed heavily in Germany to provide cheap electricity to production industries. Family-run small scale niche industries are a key part of Germany’s export success – and regardless of the Greens German industries are highly efficient and innovative with cutting edge technology and quality making German manufacture attractive to the world. Contrary to perceptions German wages are lower than in Britain but social organisation and participation by local communities much higher facilitating higher quality local services at a lower cost.

  • AQ42

    What can one do? Well, I for one have written to my MP (Conservative, apparently a science graduate, marginal) recommending he read this. I’ve written on energy policy before though so far he’s parroted the party line. I’d suggest that as well as commenting here everybody take a few minutes to email or fax their MP. The more we do this the more they might just listen . . .

    • The Laughing Cavalier

      I’d write to my MP recommending him to read th article but he is Gregory Barker, the junior minister at the Dept. of CAGW, so it would be a waste of time and effort.

    • Tom M

      I doubt it. My MP hums the tune in the bath and his wife writes the nice anodyne reply. We have a competition at home to see who can get closest to the reply.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    When the three-day week kicked in in late 1972, I said to myself, “That`s it, I`m out of here”. Never looked back, the best decision I ever made, bar none.
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • Bonkim

      Doubt if anyone misses you Jackthesmiling black. Don’t come back.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        If you undertake never to leave UK, I`ll agree never to set foot in UK.
        Win-win or what.

        • Bonkim

          No consequence to me either way. Your choice where you go – don’t want to know.

          • global city

            Do you cut and paste the insults as well?

          • Bonkim

            Forgotten my last post – so the answer is no – why do you ask such a stupid question?

    • Daniel Maris

      Just to be clear the upticks are supportive of your decision but not necessarily of your post. 🙂

  • c777

    Well I suppose they’ll just have to add some extensions to the Hospital morgues this winter.
    Good news for builders and mortuary attendants!

  • freethinker14

    Fantastic article which sums the problem up really nicely.
    Companies in this country need to start lobbying the government and media about this problem before its too late.

  • NotYouNotSure

    Both Germany and Britain are being run by governments that follow policies that are a mixture of Greens, Fabian Socialists and even a bit of Cultural Marxism, and they are both are supposed to be conservative regimes !?

  • BoiledCabbage

    Yes Ed Davey, and rationing would also cut bills……

  • dalai guevara

    A total misrepresentation of the facts. The facts that concern Britain, not Germany.
    “Two thirds” – where do I hear you quoting that?
    Two thirds of OUR energy infrastructure require replacement or at the very least an upgrade. Why? Because the energy infrastructure in Britain, hammered by the inferior regulation of the market, is akin to that of Bulgaria – hopelessly outdated and inefficient. Almost every coal fired power station here sports an efficiency rating half that of my domestic woodburning stove. HALF that.

    Why not let the Germans get on with what they have to do, and then get on with what we face here? Are YOU now preparing the plebiscite for further subsidies to upgrade bog standard coal? Who would have thunk it.

    • MrJones

      “Why? Because the energy infrastructure in Britain, hammered by the inferior regulation of the market, is akin to that of Bulgaria”

      hammered by greenists

      • dalai guevara

        A forty year old coal plant stock has NOTHING to do with greenies. You NEVER upgraded. Is your car also forty years old, your fridge, your TV? Why not? Your energy plant is!

        Now pay through the nose for that.
        You deserve it for being so, what shall I call it, ‘laid back’ about progress.

        • global city

          Ironically (shale gas) it was the dash for gas that took all of the investments through the 80s’ and 90s’.

  • SolidBro

    What complete idiocy. Germany and the UK simply shoot themselves in the foot – electricity-intensive industries simply leave the EU and relocate to the USA, Brazil, and China – where the same or greater amounts of CO2 are emitted to produce the output than would be if made in the UK or Deutschland. You haven’t accomplished ANYTHING other than move the industries to other countries. The amount of CO2 emitted will be the same or greater.

    If the USA is smart (which under 0bahhh-ma it clearly is not), they will build a lot of nuclear power capacity and lure all kinds or European and Australian industry away from the Green idiocy with cheap electricity – the mother’s milk of industry.

    • Daniel Maris

      You think nuclear power gives you cheap electricity? What planet are you on? Not his one.

      Shale gas in the states is cheap but not nuclear.

  • dr_doak

    The core criticism levelled by this article is that rising energy prices, fuelled by green taxes, will lead to economic catastrophe. At no point does it acknowledge, let alone tackle, the issue that these taxes possess the potential to: a) constrain energy bill rises in the long term, particularly for the most disadvantaged, b) support economic growth by promoting innovation in our burgeoning low-carbon energy sector and c) mitigate climate change and other forms of environmental degradation that threaten the health of both our economy and society as a whole.

    The article blindly assumes that it does not ‘pay to be green’, a perspective that is simply not axiomatic when one considers the whole evidence base. Neither does the article make the effort to outline the key differences between Germany and the UK, instead assuming that the UK will automatically follow Germany’s lead regardless of their nuances. Whilst some of the points raised may indeed have some mileage, such as learning from other countries mistakes and acknowledging the full cost of low-carbon subsidies, these are clouded by a fog of conjecture.

    Such narrow minded, myopic journalism provides little in the way of constructive criticism, which neither government, industry or the public can usefully take forward to inform their decision making. This kind of journalism simply does more harm than good, stymieing the debate around how we can provide clean, affordable and secure energy.

    • MrJones

      “a perspective that is simply not axiomatic when one considers the whole evidence base”

      u haz big wordz

  • Daniel Maris

    One problem with this article is that the USA has much worse health, education, environmental and social outcomes than do countries like Denmark and Germany which are committed to green energy. So even if we accept that the USA has cheaper energy, it doesn’t seem to feed through to a better society.

    Green energy is good for a number of reasons including lower pollution, price stability, domestic employment, and energy independence.

    It would be much better if we paid for the green energy infrastructure through taxation – particularly stamp duty (so it could be linked to home improvements at a point when people do a lot of work on house).

    Anyway, this is a tricky one isn’t for you lot – arguing that Obama has got it right and that the Conservatives in Europe have got it wrong.

    • Trofim

      My understanding is that sometimes Germany imports energy from France – that is, nuclear-generated energy. In fact I’ve heard some German energy expert say it on radio.

      • marcforte

        Yes, and sometimes Germany exports wind and solar power to France. Quite a lot actually.

      • Daniel Maris

        Germany is plugged into a continental grid strucutre – yes, that’s all part of making green energy work. A lot of it comes from Scandinavia – hydro which can be switched on quickly but no doubt some of it is generated by French nuclear power stations.

  • Daniel Maris

    Naming one company from one country as a way of discrediting green energy is a pathetic ploy. Germany is the EU’s top manufacturer and exporter. How on earth have they managed that if green energy is so unreliable? If only we could achieve anything like their performance. Instead we have to rely on casino economics backed up by a constant stream of imported shysters, corrupt capitalists being our speciality.

    • MrJones

      ” Germany has so far exempted manufacturing companies from most of their renewable subsidies. “

      • dalai guevara

        Ah, but energy *before tax* in Germany is still cheaper than in Britain.
        How do they do that? Far more efficient plant perhaps?


        • global city

          The tax/subsidy is the root of the problem however. You MUST add that to the argument. The point you make actually highlights just how feckin nutty the whole idea of green energy is!

          • dalai guevara

            ‘must’ meaning it’s not going to happen, ‘need’ is perhaps the better word.
            No, but then again I do not need to do anything. I have pointed out that 2/3 of the plant tech is outdated and inefficient. I have further pointed out that THAT is the main reason why you are paying over the odds. You may come out with the green nonsense as much as you want. The Germans have ten times higher green contributions. Their electricity is STILL cheaper (!)

  • Daniel Maris

    No doubt the writer would love to be able to point to a major blackout in Germany resulting from the green energy infrastructure….except…it’s not there to point at.

    Germany is increasingly focussed on energy storage and I believe it will crack the problem.

    • MrJones

      Did Germany recently close down two perfectly good coal-fired power stations under orders from the EU when those two power stations were the main buffer against the risk of blackouts?

      • Daniel Maris

        Did the lights go out? No. I know you’d all love Germany to be plunged into darkness but it hasn’t happened and it ain’t gonna happen.

        • Bring Back Free Speech

          It already has happened, I was taking an overnight train through Germany just over a year ago. The electricity in the area was suffering shutdown. Since then they have been building coal-fired stations against EU rules. It relies on its manufacturing industry, and unlike Britains’s traitorous ruling parties, is not prepared to see it go to the wall.

          • Daniel Maris

            Would you like to post a link to that story? Give us a date? I am sure it would have been mentioned a million times by the brown lobby if it was true. Trains and electricity supplies break down for all sorts of reasons which have nothing to do with a grid/generation failure.

          • Bring Back Free Speech

            Don’t disparage others as liars. it does you no credit.

          • Bring Back Free Speech

            Google it – there’e lots there, not least in Inside Climate Change magazine July 2013.

  • GentlemanPugilist

    This is another article that ignores the elephant in the room: population growth. The UK’s population grew by more than 3 million between 2001 and 2011, and is projected to reach 70 million by 2027. Thus, assuming the projections are correct, the UK’s population will have grown by approximately 10 million people in just 26 years. That’s the population of Sweden! Anybody who doesn’t understand that a lot of additional energy will be required to provide for 10 million people is an idiot. Yet the mainstream media seem to be ignoring this fact. Our whole energy infrastructure will need to be upgraded and that costs money. A lot of money!

    Whilst I’m sure that a lot of affluent Guardian readers will be delighted to pay for the cultural benefits and enrichment that mass-immigration brings, I’m not so sure about the average Briton. Could it be that the media and political class are conspiring to keep this a secret from the public?

    • Daniel Maris

      Hang on …are you saying that is another blessing of mass immigration…hugely increased energy bills? I think you’re right.

    • Bob339

      Could it be that Liebore had just this in mind when they opened the floodgates on immigration? Shoving more business into the privatized utility companies? More money from the taxpayer to the fat cats?

  • Ralph Morris

    Excellent article reaching the ‘obvious’ conclusions. Does this mean that politicians are intellectually inept, duplicitous or both?

    • Bob339


  • David Ritchie

    Nationalise the lot, privatisation has been such a boon for taxpayer has it not.

  • bengeo

    Europe? Buying fuel in bulk from the rest of the world? Perish the thought.

  • mikewaller

    Why do the supposed realists who want us to abandon the drive towards renewables never face up the the one criterion against which all forms of large-scale generation – including large-scale renewables – comprehensively fail us? I mean by this the question of how we would cope if we lost the grid for an extended period. I can think of several ways in which this could quite plausibly happen – some natural disasters other enemy action – and if it does, the effects would be catastrophic. As in most scenarios fossil fuel supplies would soon dry up and would in any event, along with small portable generators, soon attract criminal attention, the only option I can see is to hugely increase the extent to which individual dwellings and other facilities – both public and private – install renewable energy sources that are capable of standing alone if the grid goes down. Obviously the amount of power they would deliver would be tiny in relation to what the grid gives us, but even the capacity to recharge batteries would be a godsend in the any of the situations I envisage.

    I am certain that if any of them do come to pass the general public are going to boiling with resentment that something along the lines I am suggesting was not put in place whilst it was still possible.

  • TheRemittanceMan

    Ah! But you forget the real let out – French nuclear power. Cameron seems set on signing Britain up to energy dependency on France.

    Of course that does have a cost implicatiion. Oh and might rather scupper his chances of gaining anything meaningful in his European “renegotiations”.

  • Dutchnick

    The whole debate is heavily geared to the generation of power but the
    immediate difference can be made by reducing consumption. Lighting consumes
    some 20% of electricity produced. In the home and office LED lighting can
    reduce consumption to around 10% of the current levels, we have just done this
    and there has been an immediate difference. When flying over Europe the amount
    of street lighting is conspicuously huge. In the Netherlands there is active
    introduction of LED lighting and vehicle activated lighting is being tried, ie
    turned on by the passage of a vehicle is effective especially as there is no downside
    on switching on and off as there is no warm up time with LEDs. A slight
    downside in Canada was with traffic lights freezing up as there is little heat from
    LED. Domestic heating is a massive source of consumption and the current
    thermal requirements for houses in the UK has been increased but they should be
    higher. Home insulation and double glazing as a retrofit is a good policy and
    for transport the high fuel cost is introducing innovation and good results for
    the MPG improving massively. Do not just make more but use less!

  • detrital

    Frack away – but let’s not kid ourselves it is a ‘clean’ energy source and then let all the profit from these national reserves be used directly for the Nation’s future energy development needs. There’s nothing wrong-headed about green energy investment when it’s well-considered.

    Then, massively restrict immigration. We’re a small island, God can only imagine why our Nation’s moneymen think it’s a good idea to keep piling people in. One would like to think the natives might get a say in such things…

  • Druth

    Vote Green and sit in the dark.

  • ilma630

    Brussels is even threatening to block payment of subsidies to backup gas based generators. This is deeply troubling on many levels, (1) that the EU would force the disastrous situation of forcing out traditional power generation plants in the first place, based on the AGW pseudo-science, then (2) force us to depend on intermittent and unreliable renewables, (3) inflict this huge and unnecessary cost, including subsidies, on the public (whilst paying themselves and the renewables providers handsomely), and then (4) block a solution that would keep the lights on, keep people warm, and keep them ALIVE.

    There are just no words…

  • Peter Stroud

    It is so galling to think that this whole problem of cutting CO2 emissions, with the associated taxes, is based on pathetically poor science. And even poorer statistics. Yet no one dares challenge the nonsense. Numerous papers have been written that cast doubts on the underlying temperature data. Also the climate models, on which the stupid policies are based, have been shown to be worse than useless. I believe the politicisation of climate science is unique: and it is costing us dearly.

    • AlainCo

      it is quite common for consensus to be based on pathetically bad science, bad statistics…

      it is a progress because before it was based on pure faith and obedience to the cleric or the lord.

      now with people being more rational you have to pretend to be scientific to convince.

      You can even have a consensus based on 2 or 3 people havind touched the science, and thousands of parrots in good place… while they can face thousands of scientits…

      I don’t talk of Climate, but of an unchallenged consensus which is absolutely sure, wrong (no reasonable doubt):


      anyway despite all evidence, no couter evidence, the consensus is strong enough to prevent people who see it working to admit it works…


  • Liberty

    Governments and others should have twigged years ago that windmills, wave power, etc were never going to be enough to power aluminium, steel and chemical plants let alone keep the lights on and they cost many times any other source of power. It would have been far, far better to research long term solutions to energy such as solar, LENR and algae biotech. It is well known that the cost of solar falls by 30% pa, is now at parity with oil in sunny climes. There are a number of firms bringing LENR systems to market. We then had the windfall of shale gas that the US has gone for halving their CO2 emissions and rejuvenated their economy. It would have been a fantastic interim source and if we had gone for it from the outset the first deliveries would have been arriving just before the GE probably providing enough cheap, clean power for a couple of decades.

  • I anticipate a 3/4 black out of Britain by 2027

    • FuglydeQuietzapple

      If you refuseniks stop washing you’ll be scrubbed with Bluinite!

  • Mark Pawelek

    David wants us to frack to release our reserves of ‘clean’ natural gas. Natural gas is a carbon emitter too. It is not clean, especially when it’s extracted by fracking. He ignores NIMBY opposition and the manner in which judicial reviews can delay or stop it. We don’t have the wide open spaces of North America.

    As for his long-term fusion solution: nearly everyone, apart from those making a career out of it, believe it to be pie in the sky.

  • brotherbaldrick

    And make no mistake Madam Defarge is knitting furiously. These b****s will twist in the breeze!

  • Sarah Strangeways

    Concerned at the suggestion to abolish CCA targets (see:http://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/the-science-of-climate-change/setting-a-target-for-emission-reduction/). Is it possible we could find a way to live with the significantly higher cost/price of energy, however that might be distributed?

  • TheOldStoic

    This article is another one of his novels, right?

    Allow me to bring a lose of non-fiction to the party:The International Energy Agency – regarded as the gold standard for energy data – warned that Europe, Japan and other nations were being outpaced by the US in competitive terms, because of the very low price of energy in America resulting from the shale gas boom there. In its annual World Energy Outlook, the organisation warned that the price differential was likely to endure for decades.

    Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA and one of the world’s foremost analysts of energy: “Today, there is a substantial gap between the US and Europe in gas and electricity prices. This is a serious problem for Europe. It’s even more serious because this differential in prices will remain for at least the next 20 years.”

    He predicted that energy intensive industries in the UK and Europe would suffer a 10% decline in their international market share. “This will have huge costs in terms of employment, as there will be significant losses. There will be a knock-on effect on the whole economy”.

    Green taxes my bum!

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “China to build Britain`s next nuclear power station.”
    Another story you won`t find in the Spectator.

  • Alexander Deni

    Why do government allow companies to leave and de-industrialize their country pretty much. Make laws that if they leave, the portion wealth that they have gained by German or British people/workers should stay in that country. Otherwise it is like robbery and treason. These companies have no national or community sense or pride at all, it is despicable.

  • MrL0g1c

    BS from the start.