Wednesday 6 April 2022

New UK Energy Security Strategy

It's usually part of the normal C@W service to pre-digest blockbuster energy announcements from government and serve you up a swift precis & crit.  Sadly, if the new Energy Security doc is indeed published today as heavily trailed, I'm very tied up and won't be able to oblige in quite the usual timeframe.  

Handily, though, Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday delivered himself of a short speech on the subject which I assume hits the highlights.  So here are some key phrases he offered, in sequence, that we might wish either to qualify heavily - or dismantle completely.  Or maybe even agree!

"Expensive gas is the problem. Cheap, clean, homegrown energy is the solution" 

Well it might be if there was any

"For as long as we depend on oil and gas – wherever it is from - we are all vulnerable to Putin’s malign influence on global markets"

See the final point, though.  "For as long as ..." - that's gonna be rather a long time 

"... with gas prices at record highs, and the price of renewable energy plummeting ..."

(a) - errr, yes.  (b) - errrr, ... 

"[we] will set out a new Energy Security Strategy to supercharge cheap renewables and new nuclear"

At least he didn't say 'cheap new' nuclear!  And we know EDF is incapable of building a new plant inside 10 years.  Remind me - what binding commitments on timescale has RR made for its so-called SMRs ..?

"It remains the case that there will continue to be an ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming decades"

Oh yes.  He got that one right.


UPDATE:  due to Cabinet wrangling, it didn't get released today.  Doesn't help: I'm tied up tomorrow as well ... 


Don Cox said...

Better get fracking.

Is the North Sea and Atlantic gas really all used up ?

Nuclear fusion is the long term answer, but what do we do in the mean time ? Relying on wind and solar is clearly absurd. They can only be a bonus on top of the reliable supplies.

The SMRs seem to be taking longer to build than they should. A bit more urgency here would reduce the power cuts. Otherwise, we will soon be back to the late 1940s, when we had regular power cuts.


Elby the Beserk said...

""... with gas prices at record highs, and the price of renewable energy plummeting ...""


"Clearly the ROC scheme was poorly designed from the outset, but Blair was so keen to push ahead with renewable energy that he was blind to its obvious flaws. Now we are paying the price.

For November 2021 alone, the windfall profit for wind, solar and biomass was £711 million. This is the profit over and above a market price of £50/MWh.

Profits will be even greater now, with market prices over £220/MWh. Indeed, windfall profits are probably already running over £1 billion a month.

There is clearly now an unanswerable case for a drastic revision of the ROC scheme. There will doubtless be legal challenges. However, if these prove to be insuperable, the government should instead institute a windfall tax. There are of course precedents for this."

At least it confirms that whatever the government plans the core strategy will be to rinse as much money as possible from the already impoverished taxpayer.

I despair, and add this slightly OTT tho' pertinent entry as Guido's quote of the day, as it is 100% on the nail.

"George Bridges, former Brexit minister, writing in The Telegraph…

“Ministers say the Conservatives are a tax cutting party, but they are putting taxes up. They say they want a smaller state, but they want to spend more on levelling up. They say they are on the side of business, but are raising National Insurance on employers. They say their party is compassionate, but benefits will rise by about 3.1%, while inflation is set to hit 9%.

The government’s incoherence and confusion stems from a deep-seated malaise within the Conservative Party itself. Since 1997, gradually and at times imperceptibly, many Conservatives have acquiesced to the political consensus that the steady rise in state spending and taxes is somehow inevitable, and that reversing this trend would be politically unpopular. Rather than focusing on cutting taxes, the Party has extolled the virtues of government “investment”. Other Conservatives disagreed, but for years the cracks were papered over.”"

And this confirms what I smell in the rural air around here (over and above slurry)

"New polling from the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has revealed a major shift in the political allegiances of rural voters, with data showing the Conservative lead on Labour slashed since 2019."

I believe now that even Corbyn would have been hard pushed to make such a complete mess of the country as Johnson and his thugs have done.

Done with voting. Done with being shat on.

Don Cox said...

Does anyone really think the current Labour Party would make less of a mess of government than the present Tories ?

This is not the Labour Party of Attlee, Wilson, Healey, Callaghan, and their colleagues. It's a bunch of ignorant half-wits.

I suppose a Green Party government would be worse.


jim said...

There ain't no substitute for horsepower. Not just a petrolhead's mantra but a law of nature. The political class seem to think cars, planes, trains and central heating are just like Iphones - last for ages on a single charge. Through better hardware and software Iphones etc drink very little power (milliwatts) and the fairly small improvements in battery technology mean Iphones etc are pretty useful. Not so cars, planes, trains or central heating - they all soak up 746 watts per horsepower or 29,307 watt hours per therm and there is no way of bombing down the autostrada at 110Kph or warming your house on a few milliwatts.

Alternatives - Hydrogen? Simples, just add electricity to seawater. Making any money at it not so easy. Extract it from natural gas and stack up the carbon bricquettes into pretty mountains. Synthetic fuels? Easy if you ignore the energetics (costs) and not so easy to find a non polluting combo - hydrazine is carbon free and might work if you are tired of living.

But the political class don't have to worry about the laws of nature, all they worry about is impressions and soundbites and their internal media bubble and the electoral cycle. Even the wise words of Sir Dieter Helm recently will make no impression on them, politicians are hermetically sealed off from reality. Politicians are in the over-promise and under-deliver business but no-one is allowed to broadcast that. By the time reality seeps in the world will have changed around the political class, they will be utterly blameless - having done nothing but make soundbites. An interesting industrial model.

E-K said...

Finally I've come around to it.

This is the Great Reset. There is no other explanation for such wilful deafness to our real needs.

They want to give us the impression we have green choices but we don't.

EV cars and solar panels have huge up front costs and very long break even times that probably won't ever happen.

Greenism = Make Everyone Poor and Get Them to Think It's For Their Own Good.

dearieme said...

"to supercharge cheap ...": well, at least he didn't say "kick start" or "catalyse"

Matt said...

Even politicians must realise that there is no sun at night and that the wind isn't there on calm days.

So what is it they imagine will power UK PLC on dark, windless days? Unicorn farts?

With E-K on this, they are following Klaus' instructions and hoping the masses don't start investing in piano wire.

E-K said...

This one's for Don, really but everyone should find it interesting.

Nick Drew said...

Indeed they should, Kev. An important perspective for (not-so-distant) History Corner

Likewise this one

visc said...

@Don Cox 9.27 - good question, I'd guess it's a close run thing, the whole Palace of Westminster is full of half wits.

E-K and Nick Drew while sharing links, I found this interesting,(you'll need to select English as the language) it is by a Swiss who had been attached to NATO.

Don Cox said...

Press release here:

I haven't found a full document. It's probably not finished.

The next few years will be tough going. After that things may slowly improve.


Elby the Beserk said...

E-K said...

This one's for Don, really but everyone should find it interesting.

7:08 pm

Just finished his excellent book "The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities" (2018) in which the author exposes the major flaws of "liberal democracy"- and warns about what has happened in Ukraine.

Worth a read.

Elby the Beserk said...

And Hydrogen. Clearly not an answer.

"$3.00 to $6.60/kg equates to about £75.00 to £165.00/MWh. A large range of uncertainty, but even at the bottom end is five times the historic cost of natural gas."

Just the ticket. We are governed by cretins. At every bloody level.

Bill Quango MP said...

Don - Jam Tomorrow!

E-K said...

Nick and Visc

Those links are EXCELLENT !


I've never had an issue with going green. I do have an issue when green is offered as an alternative long before it is ready.

This is Government absolving itself of responsibility for making us piss poor.

A report by Ian Dale on a long journey in his Tesla is proof that no-one should get one for this sort of distance. The infrastructure is woefully inadequate and cannot be left to the private sector to ramp up in such a short timescale.

andrew said...

Having read the summary and heard the nonentity on Today
I hope you all have a log burner / fireplace.

Pretty sure most MPs do - well, you can only put so many manifestos in the weekly recycling before someone notices.

jim said...

Government and nuclear reminds me of my first New Scientist mag, it had some image of Calder Hall on it. Later at school the speccy types were encouraged to become nuclear physicists and/or Russian translators. Luckily I avoided both but met the nuclear boys about 15 years later when they had given up the neutrons (no money in it) and taken up the coding pads. Later on I came across ex Russian translators scraping a living editing technical publications. Message - avoid anything the government wants you to do.

Learning how to build nukes was a long and expensive learning curve and we Brits paid dear but the Civil Service got a bit twitchy about the costs and blame. Sadly the mandarins and pollys chucked it all down the tubes rather than keeping the expertise going. A nice PWR on the banks of the Thames would have been very handy.

Enjoyed a nice week in French Alps kept warm courtesy of EDF. France does not yet suffer from energy price inflation and their petrol price of 2.11 euros/l was a little bit stiff but car tax included for the Frogs. So I wonder why Rishi finds it so hard to make ends meet - who is spaffing the cash? Those mottos - a stitch in time saves nine and Jack of all trades, Master of none come to mind.

Meanwhile DFDS seemed pretty efficient and the question arises - with an infinite pool of customers how the blue blazes does P&O find it so hard to make a crust running a few ancient tubs to Calais and back? M20 makes a nice truck stop though - picnics all along.