With coal already dirt cheap (and I do mean dirt), oil at $50 or so, and gas following them down, the hollowness of this rhetoric sounds louder than ever. And since (a) the government's new subsidy of choice - the Contract-for-Difference - settles against market price*, and (b) there is an overall £bn cap on the amount paid out, an awful lot of would-be renewables projects are looking increasingly fanciful (not to mention Hinkley C, which must surely now be cancelled - surely?).
Amusing, then, to hear loud whistling-in-the-dark from the direction of the Grauniad's Environment section:
Plummeting oil price casts shadow over fracking's futureHold tight fellahs, before you get your hopes up: let's just watch and see what happens. First thing will be, yes, a reduction in CO2 emissions, haha!, as even more coal gets displaced by cheaper natural gas. Funny, eh?
The price of oil has dropped to around $55 per barrel, but fracking companies need prices of $60-100 to break even.
But no, the US fracking industry will not implode. US onshore drilling is one of the most price-sensitive things known to man so, sure enough, the number of new wells drilled will fall. This happens every cycle and is called The Laws of Supply and Demand, nothing unusual there. But the Sunk Costs phenomenon will also be at work; and a shale producer with debt to service has nothing to do except keep producing, at whatever price, right down to his marginal cost of production (rather lower than "$60-100 oil eqivalent"). If he goes bust, as some will, one of the big boys will gladly relieve him of his assets.
I still wonder when someone somewhere well to the east of the US shale industry with access to high explosives will take matters into his own hands. Barring that, settle down for a big disappointment for our greenies, plus the usual surge of cost-cutting innovations the price-slump will certainly engender, facilitating the next round of new developments.
* I acknowledge that the Energy Act gives DECC the power to rig the market price of electricity. However, they'd probably find it hard to do more than give it a bit of a nudge before serious repercussions came their way