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‘Beast from the East’ exposed our energy failings

March 13, 2018

By Paul Homewood



h/t Green Sand



The recent severe weather placed a huge strain on Britain’s energy networks. As well as a gas supply threat there were troubling signs that electricity supplies were dangerously exposed. Current policies are set to make the situation worse.

Until recently, British power generators could supply all of the electricity the nation needed. A mixed portfolio of nuclear, gas, coal, oil and renewable plants kept the lights on and allowed for a balanced choice of fuels to generate power.

But chronic policy failures over a generation to get plants built as old ones shut, mean Britain is looking to import more electricity from Europe. Imports are set to make up to a fifth of supplies by 2025. The “Beast from the East” laid bare the risks of this approach.

Slanting the electricity market more in favour of imports exposes the UK’s energy security and undermines investment in new power plants at home. Billions of pounds of investment are now at risk, which will undermine future security of supply and threaten price rises. Policy needs to change. Energy security and more competitive pricing must become a priority as we prepare to leave the EU.

Tony Lodge is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and co-author of “The Hidden Wiring – How electricity imports threaten Britain’s energy security”

Read the full article here.


A rare bit of realism in the Telegraph about the looming threat to Britain’s energy security.

It is sad though that it takes an outsider to write it, when the Telegraph has its own Energy Editor, Jillian Ambrose, who spends most of her time writing puff pieces for the renewable lobby.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Public permalink
    March 13, 2018 11:30 am

    “Jillian Ambrose, who spends most of her time writing puff pieces for the renewable lobby.”

    Shouldn’t that be “Copy-n-pasting puff pieces from the renewable lobby?

    • John Palmer permalink
      March 13, 2018 11:43 am

      Quite so!

    • March 13, 2018 12:09 pm

      She will probably take umbrage at that remark, Joe, but I suspect it’s not far off the mark.

      As someone who has seen his share of PR puff pieces, most of her stuff does give the impression of having gone straight from in-tray to typesetter without passing through brain. Considering how bloody-minded the press can be (rightly!) it puzzles me they never do their job properly when it comes anything scientific, or even pseudo-scientific.

      It doesn’t matter a damn whether global warming (or micro-plastics in rivers!) is right or not, its exponents are not supposed to get a free ride. There is always another side and reporters ought always to be looking for it.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 13, 2018 1:42 pm

        I would hope Silly Jilly does take umbrage on the basis that the truth hurts.

        Most journalism is low grade stuff these days on whatever subject you care to mention. They don’t know their customs controls from their border controls. Or that the nerve agent used in Salisbury was not made by Russians or in Russia – it was a product of the Soviet Union and made in what is now Uzbekistan. The legacy media are basically a waste of space.

  2. Robin Guenier permalink
    March 13, 2018 12:12 pm

    Tony Lodge notes that

    consumers have been presented with a sham claim by National Grid that the UK is increasingly enjoying “coal free” days – a PR wheeze based on the point that no UK coal plants are generating any electricity at a certain time.

    Too true! At 9:00 this morning fossil fuels and nuclear power were contributing 87% of electricity demand – coal’s share was 22.5%. Wind and solar contributed 5.7%.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      March 13, 2018 2:24 pm

      Robin, currently at 2:20pm it is about the same, but once the Sun goes down and with Wind at 1% we could be talking a total of 1% for all those Billions spent.

      • Adam Gallon permalink
        March 13, 2018 3:40 pm

        Yup, looks interesting. A miserable 0.66GW from wind now, installed capacity is what, around 18GW?

      • A C Osborn permalink
        March 13, 2018 5:59 pm

        6:0pm now and Wind & Solar don’t even make 2GWs.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        March 13, 2018 6:24 pm

        A C Osborn: curse – you beat me to it. Yes, at 18:15 (highest demand of the day) and fossil fuels and nuclear power were contributing 89% (39.5 GW) of electricity demand – coal’s share was 22% (9.8 GW). Wind and solar were contributing 2% (less than 1 GW). It’s interesting – but it’s not funny.

  3. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 13, 2018 12:24 pm

    The Eduard Toll is discharging her Yamal LNG cargo at Grain at the moment while we pontificate about sanctions against Russia. We were using 1.9TWh per day from storage in the coldest weather, and we’re left with just 5.4TWh in store at the nadir. We had to pay up to 499p/therm to bid for gas over the Zeebrugge interconnector, and up to 99p/kWh for power from France. Those prices are more than 10 times normal. We are being laid open to ransom.

  4. March 13, 2018 12:26 pm

    There was spare gas capacity during the beast from the East, but lack of gas storage prevented some of it being used. Shutting down the UK’s largest gas storage site last year didn’t work out too well.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      March 13, 2018 12:44 pm

      Is that true? Really? Say it isn’t.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 13, 2018 1:38 pm

        Perfectly true. Centrica decided it was not economic to carry out work needed at Rough. They needed government agreement to do so which was forthcoming and it is being run down as we speak.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 13, 2018 2:48 pm

      Rough’s other great benefit, besides its massive seasonal storage capability, was its daily draw-off capability of ~1,328GWh

  5. March 13, 2018 12:51 pm

    West Virginia is beginning to build the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines which go south and east. They will connect with others going to the Norfolk, VA area. This allows shipping of natural gas overseas.

    None of our pipelines go north as New England states have governors who eschew both coal and natural gas. Freeze in the dark, folks.

    • March 13, 2018 5:50 pm

      Either those states have lots of hydroelectric sites or they have something to burn that produces no gases e.g. nuclear. Failing that they presumably expect the wind to blow constantly?

      • Tom O permalink
        March 14, 2018 6:57 pm

        Actually, they rely on importing power from Quebec that has had enormous hydro surplus. Electric companies would prefer that to having natural gas pumped into New England since any sensible person would prefer to heat with natural gas, not electricity. Personal opinion, or course, having heated my home – while in Maine – with wood, coal, kerosene, and electricity. electricity just doesn’t seem to leave a feeling of warmth in the air like the others do when it shuts off.

  6. Emrys Jones permalink
    March 13, 2018 1:40 pm

    One can only hope that there is some kind of a plan behind this. That is, Sir Humphrey et al know what they want to do but know they will never get it through Parliament, or past the endless planning and public enquiry stuff that we love to spend years and years on in the UK. Ergo, leave it until it is almost too late, the announce the problem with a tina solution. Coupled with “Well the renewable energy people made all these promises and we believed them, so here we are. Something must be done etc etc”.

  7. March 13, 2018 2:09 pm

    UK Energy and Climate Change Policy: 2017


    Understand that a nil operating margin for electricity generation in a developed economy is an existential National Emergency.

    Understand that a coming Ice Age, to whatever degree, is the climate catastrophe that really is worthy of concern for future generations.

    The reversion to a Little Ice Age is predicted for the near future, (within decades), and a Real Ice Age could well return this century, next century or this millennium.

    In spite of the vast establishment that has been created to support Green policies and the resulting huge and probably unnecessary expenditures and the increased existential National economic risks, realise that:

    * Man-made Global Warming / Climate Change is most likely a non-problem.

    And even if it were a problem, it could not be effectively addressed by damaging the economies of the Developed World in attempting to control their emissions of CO2.

    * Understand that there is no Catastrophic risk from Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    * The major error is the conflation of Man-made atmospheric CO2 with other truly toxic pollutants.

    * Atmospheric CO2 is after all plant food, the very stuff of life.

    Pursuing the Energy Policies outlined here without fear could well:

    * possibly avoid the risk of catastrophic failure of the UK electricity grid.
    * derail the vast expenditures for a Green Climate Change agenda that are already locked into the system.
    * such expenditure, (estimated to be more than £300 billion, £300,000,000,000 by 2030),
    has no popular mandate in the UK
    * make the UK economy very significantly richer.
    * bring significant benefit to all UK Energy users.


  8. Robin Guenier permalink
    March 13, 2018 2:40 pm

    An excellent article by Rupert Darwall: Green Ideology’s Failed Experiment

    An extract:

    The twentieth century’s bequest of cheap, reliable electrical energy is now being undone. For the past decade or so, Australia and other industrialised countries have been conducting a vast experiment on their electrical grids. Tried, tested and refined technologies – predominantly based on coal-fired generation – are being replaced by weather-dependent wind and solar farms. Western societies are moving from industrial means of generating their electricity, with the precision, reliability and economies of scale that implies, to intermittent sources that, like agriculture, depend on the weather, with all that implies for cost and reliability.

  9. March 13, 2018 3:36 pm

    Tony Lodge has been saying this for years, to no effect as far as the elite establishment politicians and bureaucrats are concerned:.

    October 9, 2013. “We must change our energy policy now to head off power cuts and price rises”.

    Just like us here, he is banging his head against a bureaucratic/political brick wall, which is very dense.

  10. Bitter@twisted permalink
    March 13, 2018 3:37 pm

    New gas turbine generators are not being built because of the insanity of what passes for government policy makes them uneconomic.
    The cretins who voted en masses for the disastrous climate change act, need to be forcibly retired.

    • March 13, 2018 3:40 pm

      Something more than forcible retirement is needed, seeing as the voted themselves the best gold-plated pensions in the country. Lampposts and piano wire would be more appropriate (or is that classified as hate speech?)

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 14, 2018 10:14 am

        Probably, but it is an appropriate end none the less.

  11. Athelstan permalink
    March 13, 2018 5:54 pm

    Hmm, this could be just more journalese hyperbole – I damn well hope it is.

    Daily Express – Link.

    NASA warns MONSTER SOLAR STORM to slam Earth TOMORROW and spark total POWER wipeout.

    Aren’t we about to renew the ‘beast from the east pt II’?

    Seems like a perfect s**t storm, dear God – I hope that it does not come to pass, because if it does, we’re all in deep doings – even if you do own an off grid generator.

  12. Athelstan permalink
    March 13, 2018 6:00 pm


    I remain – a tad worried.

  13. Magnum permalink
    March 14, 2018 12:22 pm

    Dear Mr Homewood
    Just in case you may not have seen this, I hope you find it of interest.
    Sorry I couldn’t find an email address to send to you directly.

  14. Tom O permalink
    March 14, 2018 7:04 pm

    Personally, I think any nation that is capable of self sufficiency and chooses to rely on others to supply their needs is run by fools. The question is, how deeply does the fools run? If a nation has “an elected, representative government,” then the “fools” run all the way down to the level of the common voter that prefers not to be concerned with anything outside of their personal space. As Jefferson, I believe, implied, a representative government is only functional and responsible as long as there is an educated, engaged citizenry. When “we, the people,” drop the ball, we generally get just exactly what we deserve in the end. When we let the government take over our lives, then we get to be the slaves that we apparently wanted to be all along – told what to do and when to bend over the table for our bonuses.

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