Here we are with the lights in the UK about to either go out or to become very expensive to keep on. I first had an inkling that all was not well back in 1993 when the then Tory government began endorsing and actively encouraging the of gas turbines to generate electricity in place of existing coal fired powered electricity generating plants.
This was accelerated by the creation of new European Union (EU) which passed legislation that compelled the governments of member states to comply with new quotas for carbon dioxide and other noxious gaseous emissions namely sulphur dioxide. Trading ‘Carbon Quotas’ made the european governments, including ours feel good about themselves and so the Carbon Quota business was born. It has been quite useless in terms of real national productivity and only a few people in a narrow section of real industry have benefited from it.
Rather than challenging these rulings made by an undemocratically elected EU body the UK government slavishly rushed to implement it. It made sense to them at the time as they were on a roll, filling the coffers of the exchequer by privatizing all publicly owned assets such as energy utility companies. Being able to bring gas turbines online made perfect sense to them as companies that wanted to get into the business of electricity supply could bring these gas powered turbines online quickly and much more cheaply than other alternatives such as either coal fired power or nuclear power stations. It did nothing to address carbon dioxide emissions. You get water and carbon dioxide when you burn methane (gas). What this DID DO – was deplete our gas reserves and put the price of gas up due to the increased demand.
And the lunacy continues, Coal-fired Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire and the oil-fired Fawley plant in Hampshire will be shut down early next year to comply with the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive leaving us to pay for the much more expensively generated gas turbine produced electricity. Really, the Governments in office knew about this for years and could have invested in cleaner coal burning technology so you have to wonder what they have been doing?
The Germans have been very erratic with their energy policies as well. Their ill thought out policy of having all their electricity generated from renewable sources have had a rude awakening. By shutting down their nuclear power stations they found that they were unable to meet the energy needs by solely renewable sources. They have in the last 2-3 years quietly been building coal fired power stations which they are now labeling as clean technology. See this Forbes article.
Another classic example the Germans not able to think long term is their idea of storing carbon dioxide in underground caverns in its gaseous state.. Obviously potential subsidence, earthquakes and ensuing rock fractures occurring in the future, thus releasing the gas back in to the atmosphere seems to be an unreasonable concept to them.
Coming back to us in the UK, I think the British government instead of expending it’s energies on the Gay Marriage Bill and meddling with dubious foreign interventions should serve us citizens better by emulating the Germans in building cleaner coal fired power plants to run our homes and industries.
Visiting the Department of Energy and Climate Change I see they are still living in LaLa land and have not woken up to the fact of our serious energy deficit. Indeed the name says it all – Energy and Climate Change. The two don’t sit side by side comfortably. I think the governments of both shades have over the past couple of decades spent far more money on tackling CO2 emissions instead of focusing on providing the country with affordable energy. On the department’s website they proudly announce
“ Reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050”
. I am all for reducing carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions. However this should be done in a sensible way and not in a rush simply to meet targets set up by organisations that don’t represent the real people on the street. Where is the sense in forcing the majority of the population into fuel poverty by shutting down our existing coal fired or power stations and not replacing them with modern clean burning ones? We have plenty of coal and I do not see how we can afford to completely ignore this fact. This would give us Energy Security in the short and medium term while renewable forms of electrical power generation are brought online.
The ministry’s website also proudly proclaims –
“Through international relations and supporting the energy industry, the government will ensure a continuous supply of energy for the UK. “
If by this they mean more foreign interventions and brown nosing leaders of nations which are intolerant and undemocratic I’ll take our coal fire generated electricity any day.
Projects such as the Severn barrage which utilise tidal power should be brought forward and projects like the ‘high speed rail link’ which will consume even more energy and produce even more carbon dioxide should be dropped. Let’s hope some people with real vision get into government and make government work for the people and not for the corporations. There are just too many manequins at the helm.