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Jeremy Warner: Scandalous incompetence as blackouts loom

October 20, 2015

By Paul Homewood      




In the same edition, ironically, as the ridiculous piece by Helena Morrissey on Sunday, was this from Jeremy Warner:


Never mind carbon targets, the march of the windmills, and the farcical attempt to persuade the French and Chinese governments to invest in a whopper of a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, there is only one thing that really matters when it comes to energy policy – keeping the lights on.

New estimates by National Grid suggest that Britain is already perilously close to black and brown outs, and that’s before the big bulge in closures of ageing power stations really begins.

The latest predictions point to a buffer between peak supply and demand this winter of a miserably shrunken 1.2 per cent, expanded to 5.1 per cent if the Grid takes emergency measures to depress demand. It may well have to, for it would only require a major outage for large areas of the country to lose power.

"Successive governments have dithered, prevaricated and confused, chopping and changing policy"


In order to cope, businesses up and down the land are already being lined up – and paid – to unplug the mains and use their own generators instead, or otherwise reduce their demand. It’s an extraordinary situation for a major advanced economy to have got itself into, which has been decades of incompetence in the making.

Successive governments have dithered, prevaricated and confused, constantly chopping and changing policy for often unfathomable political goals. The result is an investment strike which now threatens real damage to the economy and the Government’s credibility.

An auction by National Grid last December of new capacity saw only one company come forward with plans for a new plant, and even that one has been delayed by lack of funding. Almost unbelievably the Government now plans to fine companies that promise capacity for failing to deliver. Bet that has them queuing round the block to sign up.

You might have expected some improvement now that the Tories are freed from the shackles of tree-hugging, Liberal Democrat dictated, energy policy, but if anything, matters have deteriorated further since the election.

Renewable subsidies have been widely slashed by the new energy secretary, Amber Rudd – which might be counted a blessing in terms of the very high electricity prices they were locking consumers into, but for now has only heightened the sense of uncertainty and further deterred investment.

Meanwhile the tragi-comedy of Hinkley Point continues unabated. The Government hopes EDF can agree heads of agreement with state backed Chinese investors in time for President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain this week, but it’s not yet a done deal, and even insiders worry about China’s true intentions. As for the security implications of giving Chinese state controlled enterprises charge over such a large part of the nation’s infrastructure, they don’t even bear thinking about.

The original timetable for Hinkley Point C was for it to open in 2017, yet work has still to begin, and meantime costs have nearly doubled.

Ms Rudd promises her first big speech on energy policy this week amid reports of crisis meetings among cabinet members on what to do about Britain’s looming energy shortfall. Don’t hold your breath for answers.


Strangely, not once does he mention the elephant in the room – the Climate Change Act. Still, at least common sense is beginning to break through.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    October 20, 2015 10:21 am

    With those steelworks sadly just announced as closing, we face the irony of them ‘hanging-on’ just long enough for them to be paid by all domestic electricity consumers, to not actually produce.

  2. NeilC permalink
    October 20, 2015 10:33 am

    The GFS models are showing a really cold snap, with the first of the winter’s snow from the 29thOct to at least the 5thNov. This should prove an interesting test.

  3. October 20, 2015 10:53 am

    Are the CCA chickens about to come home to roost in time for Paris?

    The Ministry of Truth will blame the power cuts on climate change and reductions in subsidy.
    Note that gas is now our dominant source of power generation – great while prices are low, but for how long? Other countries are utilising the low price coal that is available to reduce their power costs, we continue to close them!

    Fortunately, we will be able to import all of our steel from China: until the money runs-out.

    Also, the last one out will not need to put the lights out as they will be out already: does my growing pessimism show?

  4. John Moore. permalink
    October 20, 2015 11:55 am

    This is all to do with the fact that decisions are made by people whose knowledge of what electricity is and knowledge of simple schoolboy physics is minimal.

  5. emmaliza permalink
    October 20, 2015 1:33 pm

    Why has Europe decided to commit economic suicide? Why is the US copying them? Doesn’t anyone study history? Is the worship of Gaia now replacing the atheism that worship of socialism caused?
    Without fossil fuels there would be no modern age. Who benefits? Not the ultra rich elites, as they will have slaves to do their bidding….as they did before the Industrial Age….Without electricity, who can access the one source of hope for truth – the internet…

  6. markl permalink
    October 20, 2015 4:07 pm

    AGW was never about temperature and all about advancing Socialism under one government. The EU was only a first step. Call is conspiracy theory or call it anything you like but it’s slowly unfolding like a bad dream with the UN/IPCC at the helm and environmentalism as the tool. Meanwhile China and India reap the immediate rewards and sit back watching the Capitalists destroy themselves.

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