Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Energy Crisis That Could Finish Cameron

Imagine this. It's January 2015, you're David Cameron, you're Prime Minister and you're planning your re-election campaign in a few months.

And then the lights start going out. Power cuts sweep the nation. You're forced to introduce power rationing. How on earth can you win an election in those circumstances.

That's the scenario which The Economist paints this week. If it is correct in its diagnosis, unless something radical is done, Britain is heading towards South African Style power cuts by 2015 because demand for electricity will exceed available supply.

Quoting directly from the Leader - "In terms of energy policy, this is almost criminal - as bad as any other planning failure in New Labour's 12 year reign."

The Conservatives are likely to be the Government when Britain feels the effect of New Labour's failure to plan but who is likely to get the blame? - the government of the day of course.

Energy is not exactly at the top of the league of political sexiness. But without a proper energy supply strategy the whole economic house of cards comes crashing down.

I wouldn't presume to suggest what the solution is as I have very little knowledge, but what we have got to avoid if at all possible is any huge reliance on energy supplies from Russia. We have already seen where that leads. Greg Clark and his shadow energy team have a job few of us would envy.

Do read The Economist article in full HERE. It will scare the proverbial out of you.


James said...

The solution certainly ain't becoming reliant on imported uranium or imported gas.

In the long term (but not much longer than your scenario) only renewables can keep us safe and keep the lights on.

*stands back to wait for the anti-wind misinformation*

Pogo said...

I can tell you one thing that won't be a solution... Bloody windmills!!

LondonLibertarian said...

That was last week's Economist to be precise, but the article is still very important.

I cannot help but think that a braver renewal of nuclear, alongside other greener energies (including gas) is the obvious solution to unreliable Russian imports, even with the European pipe lines that might be built from Iraq, Iran, etc.

Richard T said...

Ignoring causation, add in load growth from air conditioning which I think will arise from a warming climate - hard to believe this year but look at the trends - and there has got to be fast major investment in generators.

The choices are unpalatable;
1. Gas because it's quick to build off the shelf power stations but it will result in reliance on Russia for imports.
2. Coal if the antis can be defeated and some gesture to clean combustion made
3. Nukes - greenest option for operation but an age to build.

Sadly British design and manufacturing capacity has gone with the market so we've got to buy foreign designs - EDF nukes and German cleanish coal.

The other measure is to prolong the life of existing base load coal and nuclear plant but they're coming up to 45+ years old for the coal and 30+ for the first AGRs like Hinkley Point and Hunterston. But this is only a stop gap until new plant can be built. The only currently conceivable large scale renewable would be a Severn barrage but this would a very long time in design and construction if it is actually feasible at all.

No hope but a mammoth spend which I guess will have to be initially from the public purse since the generating companies don't do public interest investment.

Anonymous said...

doesn't scare me in the least. Gordon Brown coming back off holiday terrifies me!!

PSJ said...

I happen to know quite a lot about this issue professionally. While it's not as gloomy as often painted, we face a crunch at some point in the second half of the next decade. And the Labour government's failure to do anything about it has indeed been almost criminally irresponsible.

There is no short-term alternative to a large expansion of gas-fired generation, and there is no realistic long-term alternative to a huge programme of nuclear power station construction. And they need to start soon, in the first year or two of a new Conservative government.

Meanwhile, is there a way we can impeach the various New Labour ministers who have been in charge for the past decade?

ChrisD said...

Iain, I agree with you totally about not becoming hugely reliant on countries like Russia for our energy supply.

Which begs one question, why do you continue to be so short sighted about Scotland and its abilities to continue to provide for the UK's longer term energy needs from various sources, especially if planned and implemented properly for the longer term?

You make much of the Barnett formula, and its continues to be a short sighted and misguided view IMHO. Oil and gas are are not quite at the end of the road in the North Sea as predicted by some Down South.

I read an article a long time ago about our energy needs, and in particular electricity. It pointed out that a Scots surplus was going South. We know that this government has been not just incompetent, but downright neglectful of our longer term energy needs for several years now.

Where are the nuclear power stations to be built? The SNP are about to make the same mistakes right now if they don't get a grip.
They are much wedded to renewable energy, but don't accept that we will need more than they can provide. Your attitude to the Scottish grant plays into their hands. Its not just us Scots that will be left short if they don't address the longer term energy needs of the Scots in the future. It will impact greatly down South too.

But they are just interested in making sure that there is *enough* non nuclear energy for the Scots should we become independent.

Anonymous said...

Loverly jubbly back to the three day working week and 50mph speed limit then.

We got just as much work done(probably more), had loads of time off and got to where we were going just as quickly using a lot less petrol.

Bring it on.

PSJ said...

Sorry - the other thing we need to do is ditch the idiotic, politically correct green rubbish - setting a price for carbon, cap and trade and so on. It is acting as a drag on our economy and in particular the crucial energy and transportation industries.

Glyn H said...

Not yet read the article but those of us who opposed CND in the 1980's, opposed the selling of Westinghouse to the Japanese (to support Browns profligacy)and object to running down our armed forces in the light of the Russians flying missions to the edge of our airspace and China hiding its HUGE military spending might just feel a little bit of 'we told you so'? But then we were as Norman Tebbit said this week, part of the nasty party (!) that won elections. I am fed up with the lies of politicians, including those of all parties over the EU! And Duncan sounds a silly as Steen - do tell him for me!

Anonymous said...

If there had been proper support for development of renewable energy technology decades ago then this would not be a problem. But as usual the short sighted and the ignorant obstructed such vital work, and continue to do so today.

fulcanelli said...

Granted it is expedient thinking to suppose that any incumbent government will be blamed, but the Tories have 5 years before another election to inform people of the inadequacies of Labour's energy problems.

If people are forewarned, the reaction may not be as grave as predicted in this article. I think you will see a clear depiction of the real shambolic state of this country in the first couple of years of any Tory government. The Tories have no other option than to paint the situation as it really is; nothing short of a disaster. If they don't, then they deserve everything they get.

niconoclast said...

It is not the proper role or function of Government to have an energy policy.This post is full of Socialist premises and is risibly wrongheaded and fallacious.

Anonymous said...

When you take this subject together with all the other areas of the country 'screwed up' by Labour. I think they suffer from the political equivalent of 'Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP)'. You ruin the country but dupe the citizens by them not noticing the long term effects of inaction (energy), blaming others for the financial ruin they created (it started in America) and then convince them that they are the only ones who can save the country. Only a madmen would come up with such a plot. Hold on, our last two PMs are McLiar and McIdiot.


Anonymous said...

You global warming deniers might want to read the last paragraph of the Economist story again. They want a carbon tax, interesting that you all are ignoring that part.

MikeyP said...

Then why has not Dave been making more of a fuss about the lack of planning, then?

UGC is the medium term solution.

Josh Tate said...

Please sign up and let's start a counter revolution of patient choice. If people want an NHS, let them keep funding it through taxation.

To those of us who want to CHOOSE our own healthcare, let us put the case forward for the government returning our taxation to use and letting us choose our own healthcare and leave the NHS forever. This is real democracy and choice.

Have the Tories got the guts to implement this genuinly radical and democratic idea.

Hurf Durf said...

The wind and solar luddites can go back to their Greenpeace-funded mud hut communes. It will never be able to provide bulk power.

Build more nuclear power plants.

And a carbon tax would destroy the economy, making any new power plants redundant. Go back to LabourList.

Anonymous said...

The solution is obvious: we must burn the Welsh to fuel a new generation of Welsh-Fired Power Stations.

Witterings From Witney said...

Iain: the subject of an energy shortage has been well documented and commented on by Richard North and Christopher Booker in their respective blog and articles in the press.

So what will David Cameron do, especially as he is wedded to this, dare one say insane, energy policy of our masters in Brussels?

It is also interesting that our political elite think reasonable comment/criticism on the NHS is more important than an energy shortage on which to vent their spleen!

Duncan Cookson said...

We've already seen Obama taking hits for the economic crisis almost as soon as he came in. Like it or not we have to start building windmills, investing in solar and aggressively pursueing efficiencies. Even if we start building nukes now they won't be ready until long after 2015.

There's an interesting talk on Climate Change and national security by John Kerry (who believes in nukes) here. We probably won't have any Arctic ice by 2015. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen.

Ed t said...

Iain- and others -I suggest you take a look at this video about vorter water current technology:

It's constant energy, cheap and looks fairly easy to roll out. I think it's the best option I've seen (and I am against most renewables for the reason that they are not reliable).

Sunray said...

According to Wiki, Canada and Australia mined 46% of the worlds Uranium ore between them in 2007. I would far rather that we relied on these two nations for our essential fuel supplies than the Russians or various middle eastern `democracies' in the future. Nuclear is the way forward for the majority of electricity generation in this country, lets get a move on!

Thomas said...

I'm not sure that trying to blame the present government is particularly helpful or rational since in privatising the electricity industry, the then government explicity and specifically removed any capacity for and requirement for central planning for power stations and supply from government and from any part of the industry. In passing they also removed the duty to maintain continuity of supply from the generators and distribution companies. The view taken by Milords Parkinson and Wakeham was that the market would provide and any attempt to plan centrally would distort it. So if anyone is due to be impeached it is one or both the noble Lords. Messers Blair and Brown have actually abided by the spirit and letter of the 1987 Electricity Act - wrongly in my view. The only distortion from government is the idiotic decision to push subsidised windpower. This can only operate at a 30% load factor overall and as its operation can't be predicted then a corresponding margin of non wind plant needs kept on hot standby if the wind fails.

The market has acted perfectly rationally to go for the power stations which are cheapest and easiest to construct, using the cleanest fuel. The fact that this has turned out to be strategically wrong for the country as a whole is unfortunate. Sadly as far as I know, no company has undertaken research into the future power generation nor indeed into the long term effects of the dash for gas.

The fact remains that new high capacity plant us be built as soon as possible if we are not to realise the green dream of a dark powerless country. Reluctantly, gas is the short term answer with coal and nuclear being the medium term future.

Quietzapple said...

People didn't get as much work done in the three day week of course, but we did get more done per day.

The ingenuity and capacity of people to do better is ongoing.

The security implications of shortages of energy, food and so forth in the face of population growth are examined here: and in the Frank Filed article linked there.

All a bit overdone imho because endless population growth is uncertain.

BUT we can be sure that Cameron and his "energy team" would blink, he cannot even face Dan Han down, and you betcha Howard would have.

Lord Toby Harris said...

Most of Europe (not just the UK) will be dependent on energy supplies from Russia. A major source of world instability will be competition for energy, water and other fundamentals, if not by 2015, certainly by 2025, as II argue at:

Quietzapple said...

Tobes, no kettling 'em while Iain's beloved Clarets are in the lead . . .

Decorum, old chap . . .

Forlornehope said...

If we have to do something by 2015 there are two possible answers. The first is to patch up the existing stations and derogate from all our agreements on emissions. The second is to build a lot of gas turbine driven generation. Gas turbine generating sets can be built and installed quickly and relatively cheaply - it's the running cost and the source of supply that's the problem. None of the other types of power station can be built in the time available.

Anonymous said...

They will extend the life of the present generation of nuclear power stations.

Wardog said...

What the Tories should worry about more is what happens when the UK loses 90% of it's oil reserves and 50% of it's renewablesto an independent Scotland.

Nice guy Dave?

I'm afraid that isn't going to wash up here.

Blue Eyes said...

For this and other reasons there are good reasons to encourage the Labour party to be in power to sort out the mess they have created!

Jimmy said...

"Imagine this. It's January 2015, you're David Cameron, you're Prime Minister"

That is certainly a scary scenario.

I like the way you glossed over the parties respective positions on nuclear power.

Sarf Lunnon said...

Good expert comments above, but my not entirely flippant suggestion is this: we get 25% of SE England's electricity from 5 nuclear plants on the French Coast via the Cross- Channel Connector. So get the French to build 5-10 more and another Connector. They have the technology (we don't) and the engineering expertise (we don't) and they'll do it for a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost we would. I know - i worked for a British engineering contractor which in 1985 was working simultaneously on two UK nuclear plants and two French nuclear plants. The comparison was beyond a bad joke...

Osama the Nazarene said...

If I could afford it I would put solar panels on my roof. To me not being at the mercy of Arab sheiks (and the Russians) is the most important imperative. The sheiks can wallow in their product!

Unsworth said...

Yep, it started in America - witness New York and California brown-outs.

I've worked on successful city-wide energy reduction programs with a few very prescient Americans in Colorado who are seriously worried about 'Peak Energy'. But the figures for European demand/capacity are equally worrying - and just take a look at China and India.

China is building new coal-fired at phenomenal rates - I've seen figures of two new stations per week, but that is difficult to verify. However, CO2 emissions are bound to escalate - if that is not an irrelevance.

This government is not interested - never has been - because it won't hit it.

Nuclear was the answer, but I doubt that sufficient capacity can be built in time - and that applies to all other sources of energy. So we can expect energy prices to rocket, further exhortations to save energy/insulate etc and the Government of the day to be blaming greedy bankers, energy companies and everyone else.

It is very rare for governments to have the sense and courage to think in ten or twenty year cycles - there's no political gain. Yet that is exactly what was needed ten years ago.

Anonymous said...

Blair's civil servants probably told him we needed to go massively nuclear 12 years ago to avoid this situation. He bottled it to kow-tow to Ruddick etc. just like he bottled everything else. France knew what was what. In the short term they'll sell us power, but at what price ? Cameron has got to fast-track nuclear pretty damn quick. It won't be pretty. By the way Blair also bottled green-lighting waste incinerators in a big way to avoid the ludicrously expensive EU landfill policy we are now suffering from.

labour for the few said...

i wonder if blair cares about any of this sitting on a billionaires yacht.

i think not.

he and brown should be sripped of their pension rights,just like fred the shred.

i am not sure there will be any tax payers left in the uk by 2015 .

how ironic,the sun and murdoch supported nulibour,but in 1992,they said if kinnock wins, will the last person to leave switch the lights off.

how ironic,the sun can rejoice in playing their part in really turning them off.

Quietzapple said...

I seem to recall Mrs Thatcher used quite a bit of the oil revenues to fund the unemployment she created.

Extending the lives of the nuke power stations is likely an option, what they have done in Slovakia, to the chagrin of the Euro Nuke Authorities.

Slovak friends - statistician and scientist - tell me theirs are not dodgy USSR ones.

Alex said...

The Economist article paints a much worse picture than it actually is. I recommend the following which covers Britains future energy supply in more datail than anything you will read on this blog or the Economist.

8 GW of coal fired power (out of 28 GW) will close before 2015, but filling the gap will not be too hard with sensible management.

We have gas shortages every winter, but that can be addressed with more gas storage because we have production capacity higher than demand for 9 months of the year, with more imports from Norway (which has increased production and sales to the UK), LNG imports and gas imports via the BBL and Interconnector pipelines meeting demand through 2015 and beyond, but with other solutions coming online later.

Anonymous said...

For those who argue against Gas because it comes from Russia.

I'ld just point out that the UKs gas imports could come from Qatar in fact the UK already imports gas from there.

Gas for a quick fix and nuclear for the long term.

Nuclear is, of course, the greenest bulk power source of all.


Draig said...

Total hypocrisy on the part of the Economist. It's the kind of market fundamentalism practised by economists that has led us to this mess in the first place.

The "Dash for Gas" took place because gas-fired power stations are cheaper and quicker to build, but what nobody stopped to consider was that North Sea reserves were finite and that they would eventually peak and decline, leading us down the road of import dependency.

It's interesting that the Economist is willing to accept that gas (and of course oil) production in the North Sea have peaked and are now in rapid decline. What happened to the mantra of "more investment, newer technology"?

Wasn't it the "great" economist Julian Simon who said that we could produce oil "from our minds"? Economists just seem to have no conception of geophysical realities...

Anonymous said...

Suspect Europe will get to him before energy.

Nostradamus said...

Yes but isn't this just a little piece of B/S?
These doom mongers probably used the same graphs that said that the CDO market would go on rising ad infinitum, that tobacco smoke causes global warming and that swine flu and CJD would finish off the human race by 2012?

prj45 said...

We could always try using less electricity.

But I figure given the option of bulding a very expensive nuclear power station or the nation switching its TVs off rather than leaving them on standby it'll always go for the latter I figure.

BrianSJ said...

PSJ and Richard T are right, and our dependence on Russia can be kept within limits, given the current levels of NG supply.
If the Tories are prepared to ignore the AGW cult, then there is coal. We may need to be out of Europe to do that though. Perhaps then we can be a lump of coal surrounded by fish once again.
Serious energy conservation measures would not go amiss. But not the current green nonsense. Removing planning costs for solar hot water would help for example.

prj45 said...

Josh Tate said...
To those of us who want to CHOOSE our own healthcare, let us put the case forward for the government returning our taxation to use and letting us choose our own healthcare and leave the NHS forever. This is real democracy and choice.

Forever, you sure about that, what happens when you run out of money?

And how do you think you would run a heathcare system for those that opted to stay in with what's left after those that decided to opt out and spent what they got back on booze and fags?

There's often nothing more selfish than a healthy Tory boy.

Jabba the Cat said...

Richard North and Christopher Booker have been trying to bring this problem to everyone's attention for years but the politicians have chosen to keep their heads in the sand. These chickens will come home to roost, with a vengeance, soon.

troymolloy said...

You (and the Economist) are extremely late to the party on this on Iain; still I'm glad the message is getting around a bit. Pity Cameron is characteristically tight-lipped about the whole thing though.

Old Codger said...

Should Labour lose the election I doubt Dave will last until 2015. The cuts that he does not acknowledge (NHS?) but will have to make, or the imposition of the IMF if he doesn't, will finish him off well before then.

I think folk accept the need for cuts it just need someone with foresight and conviction to make the case. Dave has neither.

Quietzapple said...

A pity that the UK's deep mines were closed and many allowed to flood. Clean coal technology and self sufficiency might have been worth a fair bit at some point in the future.

It seemed spite to stop the pumping engines I was told in the '80s by welsh miners.

It was sometimes pointed out Great Britain is built on coal and surrounded by oil. The coal is still there, there are oil fields still to be developed, wind will be of use in the Thames estuary, and the nuclear stations will remain useful for examples.

I doubt the miserable science and their bloggers are right, we shall not sink to begging from the Russians.

Sean Haffey said...

1. There isn't time between now and 2015 (or so) to build more nuclear.

2. It's unlikely we could fill the gap with energy from renewable sources in this time frame either.

3. Therefore we'll need some combination of coal or gas.

The challenge will be to raise this up the political agenda fast. Perhaps this should be this recession's equivalent of America's programme of building highways in the 1930s.

Nigel said...

If you want to educate yourself, then I suggest you read this:

You do not have to agree with the author's conclusions, but it will certainly give you a better idea of the hard numbers involved.
(And he is not a polemicist in the mould of Richard North and Christopher Booker.)

FireForce said...

Hydro-electric is a large part of the answer.
And is been overlooked by all.
Small / larger units down all rivers anyone looking into the idea?
Unlike wind power, it does not stop, there is more rain when we need power most, and not as ugly as wind turbines, and the only thing it would disturb is fish, they will recover, anyhow eat beef it is better.

Anonymous said...

I worked in the energy industry for 30 years. I was there when it was privatised, I was in no doubt that handing our energy transmission system over to foreign based companies was a major error for which this country will pay a terrible price.

The present government has failed to correct the situation, in fact its got worse. How ironic that a Conservative government may very well have to reverse Thatcher's so called greatest achievment.

Tell Sid he's been stuffed.

CryBaby said...

A power cut here and there will give us some peace and quiet from the nanny government. At least their cameras will stop working for a bit

Anonymous said...

The solution for the Conservatives is obvious: lose the next election. Some talk about deporting foreign NHS doctors and nurses to cripple health care and releasing more murderers (oops straw has done all that) should do the trick. The labour party could not organize a killing in a halal abattoir. At least we would know it was ballsed up in the best PC manner.

Pelagius said...

Reduce use, then, by energy saving, starting with every home. Simples. But the energy giants wouldn't like that!

And people are right; these wind factories are a total failure. They were only promoted to make people hate them and support nuclear instead. Naive environmentalists - not all of them / us by any means - fell for that, hook, line and sinker. In the meantime the government subsidy - the only thing they 'farm' - makes a pretty euro for these multi-nationals.

Brian E. said...

It is also important to realise that consumption is rising, broadly in line with population growth, and that the savings being made by energy saving lamps, not having TVs on standby, etc, are more than off-set by individual increases elsewhere due to more electrical gadgets and additional TVs, computers, etc, in the home.
We need rational debate on what is practical in the timescale involved, not what various pressure groups consider to be the ideal choice.
If we continue the way we are going, we will certainly meet our carbon emission targets somewhere in the second half of the next decade, because, given a hard winter, large numbers of the very young and elderly will die of hypothermia.

Exonian said...

If DC wants to sort out energy, then IMHO he should build tidal barrages across significant tidal areas like the Severn and Thames estuaries and fund a massive expansion of nuclear plants, coupled with hydrolysis plants to produce hydrogen for transport.
Voila! Oil dependence reduced to shit all, and we can buy the uranium from sane people like the Aussies and Canucks.

Joe Public said...

This'll happen because politicians & NIMBYs vetoed having clean, safe nuclear power.

The French will laugh all the way to the bank (flogging us their surplus sparks)

Nuclear Safety isn't an issue in the UK; we'll build safe reactors; the risk is from a continental (?French??) incident. We incur the risk, whilst getting none of the benefits.

Anonymous said...

As energy is consumed by people, perhaps we should ban immigration; ban IVF treatment; and, impose a 1-child-per-family policy?

trevorsden said...

"And the Labour government's failure to do anything about it has indeed been almost criminally irresponsible. " --- correct PSJ, and this is the line that an incoming tory govt should take.

It should lay the groundwork on how irresponsible and negligent labour have been from a very early stage.

Anonymous said...

Oh relax!

The solution is put a pipe on the chimney where Labour are having their conferences...and you take that hot air and heat water to boil...then the steam turns a turbine and a generator...and the UK will have all the energy it needs.

Paul Halsall said...

You cannot predict the future. Why is this hard to grasp?

JPT said...

We are eating the world alive.

Stronghold Barricades said...

We just put photovoltaic cells on our house?

Only the subsidy only pays for 5%

Maybe we could all have windmills too

Or we could just harness all the capital made by NuLiebour to build a new power station

Wight Tort said...

Could alway burn those fivers printed by QE, should keep us going for a few years.

Seeing Andrew Turner today at the IOW Garlic festival, one might be forgiven for thinking he might lose the IoW-loads of negitive comments about using expenses to pay for unfair dismissal claims. :-(

Anonymous said...

Because Cameron will only say or do what is electorally appealing, he has sat on the fence about nuclear power. He needs to get off it and give long term investment certainty to that part of the market.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Hey Joe @7:24 do you remember this:

France is being forced to import electricity from Britain to cope with a summer heatwave that has helped to put a third of its nuclear power stations out of action.

With temperatures across much of France surging above 30C this week, EDF’s reactors are generating the lowest level of electricity in six years, forcing the state-owned utility to turn to Britain for additional capacity.

Who was laughing then eh?

Anonymous said...

There is more time than you think. Our economy will more or less have completely collapsed by then, so a lot of immigrants will have left, thus reducing demand.
Still the Tories need a strategy, nuclear is bound to be a big part of that, but you need to train the engineers.

Anonymous said...

The answer is to reduce energy consumption: require all houses with cavity walls to be cavity wall insulated; require all lofts to be insulated and all windows (except those in listed buildings where it's not possible) to be double glazed. Any house sold without these measures being taken would pay a 10% of the price to an energy fund to help subsidise new sources of renewable energy. Every building let would pay similarly punitive taxes. Require shops to have doors that are not left open in winter, require every light in public buildings to the controlled by motion sensors (the building where I work leaves the lights on all night). Such simple measures could swiftly and easily reduce energy demands.

Lord Lavendon said...

You have got several options :

1) Green Fundamentalist - turn UK into giant windturbine/solar powered battery and destroy what is left of the countryside. Solar power no good as the UK is often covered by cloud ( that science GCESE/'O' level has proved handy hasn't it !)

2) Labour position- buttocks on the fence 'cause they would like nuclear , but would upset the Greens/leftie media types , hence do nothing approach.

3) Tories - who knows. I suspect they will go with nuclear power , favourite of the civil service, unless we can think of some alternative which does not reduce the UK to a massive wind turbine or solar powered battery .

4) Ultra Green Fundamentalist view- we live in communes and revert to a medevial period type of living.

Man in a Shed said...

Of course this has happened before in California.

Anonymous said...

I recall there was a "plan" that in ten years we would be self-sufficient in terms of energy supply.

Like all Labour's other "multi-year plans" it seems to have been forgotten.

Lights will be going out, and soon, perhaps even this coming winter. It won't be because of insufficient supply, it will be because people can't afford the bills.

Rationalist said...

Global Warming is nonsense peddled by charlatans. Build more coal. If the tree huggers are concerned about coal, build nuclear. If none of the options are allowed, cut power to the liberal tree huggers' houses and provide uninterrupted power to rational citizens.

Anonymous said...

Gordon seems, for some reason, to be very keen on electric cars.

How about David?

It should be interesting trying to match the rush to allegedly green (and presumably subsidised) electric cars being balanced against attempts to bolster the electricity generation industry in order to prevent too many damaging power outages.

Even more interesting if the subsidies will, in effect and just like the 'scrappage' scheme, boost non UK economoies more than those in the UK.

One migh assume that this is somethign being repeated in other areas of production. No wonder there are reports that Germany and France may be coming out of recession but no sign of the same transformation for the UK.

Verity said...

Richard T - There's no global warming, so that should be a load off your mind!

The Grim Reaper said...

We should burn some politicians. That smug git Tom Harris should be first to be incinerated.

Thatsnews said...

There was so much that Labour could have done over the past 12 years.

Here are just two things:-

Have grants to ensure every new building had modern PV arrays on their roofs, if suitable.

Invest in Flettner Rotor research to provide safe and improved wind generation.

But Labour were not really interested.

Dimoto said...

Wow! What a thread. A true, silly-season production.
BTW, have you noticed the latest Labour dirty tricks stunt in all the Sunday papers, especially the allegedly Tory supporting Mail and Telegraph ? Seems the sleazemasters have decided that Cameron is vulnerable to a heavy personal attack - perhaps he should worry more about that ?
And Dozy Tel Waite and Martin (Alistair's buddy)Bell to stand against Duncan ?
I guess that's what you will get if the leader lacks the backbone to stamp down hard on disruptives (Duncan and Hannan).
Which Tory loud-mouthed chump will be next to embarrass Cameron ?
Perhaps he should study how Blair and Campbell enforced party discipline in the run-up to the 1997 election.

Lord Alconleigh said...

This is an important issue.

Even renewable energy analysts say that we will never get more than 20% of demand from renewables.

Someone needs to grasp the nettle now and start building coal powered power stations.

The Greens will complain but they are not going to survive the massive contraction of the economy which they advocate. They need to be ignored.

Roger Thornhill said...

The LPUK has always considered energy to be an issue of national security and it forms a part of our official policy.

Anonymous said...

We're also going to experience food and water shortages, but hey, ho. At least the Labour government managed to squeeze in a couple of million extra migrants, despite the obvious housing shortages as well. It's a fact, not a scare story. They've been told, but they won't listen.

Keep 'em pouring in, though. It would be racist to even mention it until we are starving in the dark.

Its time governments knew that they are supposed to look after the best interests of those who voted for them.

Savonarola said...

In the medium term the future is nuclear. I have been buying shares on AIM/ASX listed explorers and developers based principally in Namibia and Botswana.


Gnostic said...

It took you lot long enough to see the bleeding obvious. Where were you when Miliband's energy policy was passed into law without so much as a whimper of protest about the eye-watering cost, let alone searching questions about the bogus science it's based on.

CO2 IS NOT a pollutant.

howard thomas said...

I see an opening in the market----selling generators!

Anonymous said...

Great News.

Perhaps they will switch all those lights illuminating our Motorways and dual carriageways off and give us the opportuniuty to see the night sky.

Last time I looked all vehicles have to be fitted with working lights that allow the driver to see the road ahead and be seen from behind anyway.

Anonymous said...

We don't need an energy crisis to bring down the whole economic pack of cards. 12 years of Labour has done that job already.

Anonymous said...

Iain - interesting that you post this blog the day before the IOS story today on David Cameron's extensive free flights around the UK from rich businessmen, including a Mr Andrew Cook, an industrialist who, according to the IOS `boasted of how he helped to shape the Conservative Party's energy policy'.

In particular Mr Cook is reported as saying to the Conservative party:

'You need an energy policy because the lights will start going out in five years and this will be on your watch' (sounds spookily familiar to your own blog).

The issue here is what influence are rich businessmen having on Conservative party policy. Are Mr Cameron's free flights in some way meant to leverage some business benefit for those wealthy people providing them?

At the same time the Conservatives have recently been telling the public affairs industry not to use tried and trusted methods of influencing the conservative party, in PR Week (12 August) Douglas Carswell said he envisaged "a big Westminster story about the way some lobbyists seek to buy influence"

Is this story part of that big westminster story? albeit he is not a` lobbyist' (and therefore not subject to lobbying regulation).

When we have a wealthy businessman reported as `boasting' about shaping conservative energy policy, at the same time as providing free flights to the leader of the party, we have to ask how is it best to influence Tory policy? It seems that public affairs practitoners might be advised to approach the Tory front bench, offer free flights, or whatever else, (free private education for Gove?, free private health for Lansley?) and that way you can then boast of the influence you have had on tory policies.

Anonymous said...

Something else to blame the Tories for then.

1. Taking us into the EU on the most stupid of terms imaginable.

2. Privatising the energy production and supply industries so that they could sell cheap energy to the EU (except for supply industries in precious Scotland).

3. Ensuring foreign ownership of energy production and supply industries.

Now we have Labour making England (not the UK) dependent for energy on the EU, Scotland and any other country in the world.

Labour and Conservatives are united in their institutional Anglophobia.

John R said...

But this is nothing new. For the last several years the industry has been attempting to tell this ogvernment that unless they stop talking and start doing the light will go out.

The EU has mandated the closure of vast swathes of our conventionally fueled stations as part of it's global warming scam. The nukes are due to be closed down to to end of life. If you turn off all the power stations there can be no power. What's so hard to understand??

Meanwhile we've heard nothing from a string of increasingly inept energy ministers other than "report", "consultation", "debate" etc etc.

Fantasy power from wind, sun or wave will not help as it a) isn't reliable (think of a still, overcast day in January during a neap tide) and so b) needs to be backed up one-for-one with conventional stations plus c) is generated from many many small sources rrather than a few large ones - the grid can't take this type of power, even if there was a enough of it.

So the answer is build more (low emmission) nukes. We have no time left for more discussion or debate.

Just to make matters worse, we (or rather the current inept Energy Minister) sold our own construction capacity last year for a song. So here's the plan:

- Speak to the French, they have companies building standard reactors in sensible numbers (ie no one-offs or trials) and do a deal for 50 nukes.
- To avoid any NIMBY protests build a new nuke next to each old one. (that covers the old nukes going away)
- Then build another one next door to that (that covers the coal stations going away)
- Then another one next door to that (to reduce our dependence on Russian controlled gas supplies)

As we've wasted the whole of Labours 12 year mismanagement of the energy sector we might have to fudge the closedown dates for some stations but at least we'd have power to read this blog!!

DiscoveredJoys said...

I suspect the answer will be a long complicated multi-faceted one - there is no single act or technology that will be enough (so that is why some politicians have turned a blind eye; it's too complicated.)

So yes, we will need sensible renewable energy, sensible fossil fuel generation, sensible nuclear power, sensible micro-generation, and probaly a sensible(!) tax regime to encourage good housekeeping.

And we will probably need sensible economies in consumption, including reduced street lighting, better home insulation, more careful use of power hungry industrial and domestic appliances.

All of this will be needed as 'the answer'. No single item will be sufficient. But economies in consumption could start right now, deferring the need for new generation a little.

Too sensible for a politician to propose?

Twig said...

Looks like Labour will leave nothing but scorched earth upon their departure.

As far as energy policy goes, reduction in demand has to be part of the solution, in the same way that reduction in spending has to be part of the solution to Labour's economic screw ups.

Anonymous said...

Problem reaction solution.

Watch these globalist bastards, for they know exactly what they are doing. They just have no intention of spelling it out to you all, otherwise the public would finally start to understand who is really pulling our strings.

They have caused a problem, and are about to get the inevitable reaction. While in the end, we will be given the exact same, so called solution, that they always intented to give us.

Renewables are no more of an answer then any other type of energy, simply because the vast investment required in their production, instalation, and survicing is uneconomic and subject to perfectly vast amounts of interests payments.

European and American production is being moved to China where the banking system/establishment can keep it under their entire control.

Therefore cheap energy is no longer required. Therefore it WILL become incredibly expensive, whatever we do or say.

The more energy costs, the more taxes the government gets. this is a win win situation for all of THEM. While being a lose lose situation for all of US.

If it is any consolation then please ask yourself this question.




Demetrius said...

Glas to see "The Economist" catching up with me. I posted on Thursday, 23rd July, on the subject "The Electrification Of The Union." There you go then.

Mike said...

Coal is the ONLY solution. Climate change, as a consequence of man's activity, is a myth. Look at geological history (evidence-based): areas of Britain have been, both, semi tropical and covered by ice sheets of up to 1km in depth - long before humankind had evolved. It's cyclical.

The current panic is driven by western-driven, geopolitical imperatives (ideologically-based).

Anonymous said...

"It's January 2015, you're David Cameron, you're Prime Minister and you're planning your re-election campaign in a few months."

Er... January 2015 is definitely a tad late for planning a campaign now just three months away.

More to the point - don't we all (well, most) expect such a good majority for Cameron next year that he'll feel well able to run again in 2014 not 2015?

Mines a Pint said...

Even when the politicians are finally forced to make a decision, will there be enough chartered and technician engineers to actually build new generating capacity? The number of electrical engineers graduating from UK universities is tiny in comparison with our European and Far East competitiors. But then engineers have always been regarded as very low in the pecking order, status and salary levels compared with lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. How many MPs are graduate engineers for example?

And with the schools in this country pushing students into easy options, such as media studies, in preference to physics and mathematics, the situation is going to get worse.

"As you sow so shall you reap".

Anonymous said...

The only surprising thing about this is that you are surprised. This crisis has been a long time coming and only the complete incompetence of the current Government has turned a problem into a crisis.

Yes, oil is running out, coal fired stations must shut under EU emissions rules, wind power is a joke, and the Government has been too supine to press ahead with the only sensible solution - nuclear power.

When the lights go out let's remember it is the fault of Blair & Brown.

Paddy Briggs said...

I was in The Philippines some time back in the 1990s when they suffered “brown outs” in Manila and a few other places. These were temporary cessations of electricity supply caused by short term demand exceeding short term supply. The reason they were in the shit was that there had been absolutely no long term energy planning.

The United Kingdom is not The Philippines and we are absolutely not in the same situation. You cannot plug short-term energy imbalances with emergency supply measures. You have to have a long term plan. The UK has one.

johnpaul said...

If only all the North sea oil hadn't been waisted, what will the Scots say, One solutioni is to reopen all the pits that we were told weren't going to be shut down

cassandra said...

Still while our lights go out and we shiver in the cold we can bask in the warm glow of our moral lead in fighting non existent global warming eh?
Perhaps Dave will build us..sorry import some windmills, I am sure they will do the business eh?
So we are already paying a third more for electricity than we need to because of non existent global warming, I bet we would all like to pay foreign energy firms even more so they can fight a non existent fantasy boogyman eh?

So here we are in the near future enjoying mass unemployment and mass unrest stirred up by millitant unions etc, power cuts are common now and bills are unafordable and guess what instead of the advertised global warming we now enjoy plummeting global temperatures akin to a mini ice age and thousands of poor people are dying in misery and poverty.
Still the westminster commissars squabble and listen to nobody but themselves while they live in comfort and wealth hiding in the new security compounds built to seperate them from a resentful peasantry, no power cuts or food rationing for them comrades!
Meanwhile farming has been sabotaged so completely by the previous regime that most food comes from the channel tunnel, well as much as they can spare which aint a great deal.
But still the commissar class have the motorways free for their exclusive zil lanes and while they may have to kowtow to the eurotrash overseers they still enjoy wealth privilige and private shopping malls.

Look forward to the future folks, a bed being made specially for us right now that we will all have to lie in, thanks for all the windmills that dont work, thanks for all the coal and nuclear power stations you didnt think we needed, thanks for the destruction of our agricultural economy and thanks a bunch for lying to us about global warming!
See you in the future folks, its nearly upon us.

Unsworth said...

@ Paddy Briggs

"You have to have a long term plan. The UK has one."

Which is?

All the 'plans' in the world make no damn difference - remember the Titanic? It's not plans that are important, it's action.

Despite 'planning', brown-outs have occurred in the USA - and are likely to increase. They regularly happen in India, China and South America. Take a look at what the EC has to say about projected energy supplies and demand.

The Economist is not saying anything radical - much of the article is culled from respectable known sources. The only criticism I have of it is that I doubt that Carbon Taxation will have much impact.

Anonymous said...

Every time the Greens push electric cars you might want to ask them how the electricity to recharge the car batteries will be generated.

It's also worth noting that these batteries are dependent on lithium and 90% of the world's lithium reserves are in one country. And guess what? It's not a pro-Western one.

Anonymous said...

Cameron could do worse than to check out UKIP's Energy and Environment policy document.

neil craig said...

The Economist is actually understating because there are EU emission regulations coming into force in 2015 which will close much of our coal fired power.

Iain I find your "non-sexines" of energy remark typical of what is wrong with politics as it is done in this country where everything seems to revolve around Westminster gossip. Keeping the lights on is, 2nd only to preventing invasion, the most important thing government should be doing.

It is actually incredibly easy to do. All politicians have to do is to stop getting in the way. We could have unlimited amounts of electricity at 1/3rd present prices by simply not preventing the free market building nuclear power stations. Such generators can be built in 3 yearsm though there is already a world backlog (so we had better act soon). While we keep hearing about it taking 10/12/18 years all but the last 3 are politics & paper shuffling. Having such power would (A) make British industry competitive again & give us a far faster growth rate & (B) drasticlay cut the unnecessary 24,000 deaths of pensioners from cold.

That this is not "sexy" in the Westminster village shows what an ignorant, parochial bunch of parasites are there. If Cameron does let the lights go out, vastly increasing the number of unnecessary deaths he will deserve to be "finished" by hanging from a lamppost, as will the Labour & LibDem MP parasites too.

The total number of preventable deaths caused by political genuflecting to to the "sexy" eco-fascists could well rise, proportionately, towards those killed by Stalin, but he was at least trying to create an economy not to destroy it.

neil craig said...

"Can new stations be built in time to close the perceived gap opening up in electricity supply, particularly in the UK? It is expected that 2012 will be the year demand for electricity exceeds supply; ominously it is the year when the Olympic Games will be held in London and power cuts would be an embarrassment.

‘First of all, designs have to be licensed. The AP 1000 [reactor, made by Westinghouse/Toshiba] is already licensed in America, but … the UK insists on carrying out its own licensing programme, and this takes skilled manpower which is in very short supply. Licensing of proposed designs will not be complete until 2011/12 according to the Nuclear White Paper. This delay will affect the time before planning permission is obtained to build a new station. The shortage of skilled engineering manpower and experience (the last nuclear station to be built in Britain was Sizewell B in 1995) means that we have lost the ability to build a nuclear power station. We will have to rely on the French, Americans or Japanese to build one for us, and that will mean joining a queue when we get around to ordering one. As far as construction is concerned, a good deal of the work will be contracted out to British firms.

‘The actual build time is around 45 months, based on experience in the Far East, but this stretches out to 10 years when certification and licensing, planning permission, and other bureaucracy are included. One “pinch point” common to all power station constructors is the shortage of companies able to manufacture the huge forgings necessary for a modern nuclear power station. Presently, only Japan Steel can do it…

‘These problems emphasise the international nature of the nuclear power building programme.’

Professor Ian Fells quoted by Spiked

Interesting that these ex-Marxists are so much more willing to face reality than Mr Cameron