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Craig Mackinlay MP: Did Boris Johnson tell the truth about Net Zero?

September 14, 2021

By Paul Homewood 

 

Please can we have more MPs like Craig Mackinlay?

 

 

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The MP described his constituents of the future as “sitting around a tepid radiator” powered by an expensive heat pump and worrying about the payments for an electric car they didn’t want either. At the same time, they watched as the growing economies of the world were building new gas and coal-fired power stations. Could this be the future of Net Zero?

In response, the Prime Minister claimed that UK households and businesses were experiencing “vertiginous” falls in the prices of batteries as well as wind and solar power.

 

 

Fact-checking Boris Johnson’s answer to my Parliamentary Question

It is critical that Britain’s decarbonisation policies are both affordable and technologically feasible. If the adoption of technologies such as wind and solar “farms”, square miles of batteries, hydrogen and widespread adoption of air source heat pumps leaves people colder and poorer, no-one is going to want to copy our example, and it won’t be very popular at home either. But is our example economically compelling? Is it even doable?

In response to my question on this topic at PMQs, the PM said that we were experiencing “vertiginous” falls in the prices of batteries as well as wind and solar power. It is all going to be OK if we adopt a spirit of “promethean technological optimism”. But what’s the truth about the PM’s claims?

As a matter of fact, renewable energy in Britain has not, as the Prime Minister suggests, been getting cheaper. Subsidies to renewable electricity generators cost consumers over £10 billion a year at present, and the average subsidy on top of the wholesale price can be conservatively calculated at about £80/MWh, making it extremely expensive by any standard.

The Prime Minister specifically claims that the cost of offshore wind power has dropped by 70 per cent in the last decade.  That is untrue. Actual subsidies paid per MWh generated have not fallen, but as a matter of public record costs have increased sharply since their introduction in 2002, when they stood at just over £40/MWh, right up to the present when they stand at just over £110/MWh. 

Perhaps the Prime Minister has been misled by his officials by the low offshore wind bids for non-binding “Contracts for Difference”. Most of these low-price contracts have not yet been taken up, and few if any seem likely to survive since, again as a matter of fact, there is no evidence that the underlying cost of offshore wind has fallen sharply. The real-life experience of offshore wind companies has been of higher maintenance costs and a shorter working life of equipment than the original business models planned for.

Audited accounts show clearly that offshore wind capital costs remain high and that their operation and maintenance costs are rising rapidly.

The PM also believes that the costs of solar have fallen sharply, but once again government estimates of these are inconsistent with data in audited accounts. Research in progress and shortly to be published shows that the total capex of solar “farms” in the UK fell by only 10 per cent in the period 2012 to 2018, and averaged about £1m per megawatt installed. Bizarrely, the government cost estimates are only about 60 per cent of that figure. Similarly, solar industry sources claim operating expenditure at about £20,000/MW per year while audited accounts record that it is 50 per cent higher. So they cost more to build and cost more to operate than the government has been led to believe.

And then on top of all this, we have the network and system costs of connecting and managing uncontrollable renewables, which are high and have already affected consumers. In 2002, before renewables, the cost of National Grid’s “Balancing Services” were about £400m per year. They now stand at about £1.8 billion a year with gas and, just this week, coal powered traditional power stations stepping in to keep the lights on, and the trend is upwards, very largely due to renewables.

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. Patsy Lacey permalink
    September 14, 2021 11:03 am

    Meanwhile in the real world
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/09/13/power-prices-rocket-amid-global-gas-crunch/

    • Jordan permalink
      September 14, 2021 2:11 pm

      Ironically, today’s prices will be the argument used to claim new wind capacity is economic on the basis average power prices.
      Except that’s wrong.
      Today’s prices are high, in large part, because wind generators are not producing much and the market is left short. So we see prices are high when wind is not producing, and the “captured price” achieved by wind generation is below the average power price.
      New wind capacity needs the CfD as a shelter from its own price cannibalisation. They might call it “subsidy free”, but it definitely is a subsidy which comes at a great cost to the subsidiser.

    • September 14, 2021 4:30 pm

      Considering the USA has been the leader in reducing CO2 emissions (albeit unnecessary, but politically fashionable) because of using native fracked gas, you would think the logical conclusion would be to do the same in the UK, but when have politicians ever been logical?

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    September 14, 2021 11:21 am

    So, riddle me this Boris: my dual-fuel account with a supposed green supplier at present costs me £215 per month fixed. The deal expires on 30/09 and that supplier has just quoted me almost identical fixed and variable deals costing c£350 per month. That’s an increase of about 63%, or an extra £1,600 per annum.
    Please Boris, explain to me how much cheaper renewables are because my maths skills are clearly defective.

    • 2hmp permalink
      September 14, 2021 11:24 am

      You don’t really think Boris wants to know the facts do you ?

      • Duker permalink
        September 15, 2021 5:32 am

        Cummings said Boris couldnt even do ‘policy’ let alone numbers – which probably no PM ever has since Thatcher.

    • Derek Wood permalink
      September 14, 2021 1:09 pm

      Ian Magness: Snap! my situation is the same as yours. Conclusion? Our Prime Minister is lying through his teeth!

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      September 14, 2021 2:06 pm

      What’s even more puzzling this is happening at a time when every energy company without exception offers 100% renewable energy.

    • Crowcatcher permalink
      September 14, 2021 3:33 pm

      Jesus Christ, how do you use that much, my combined fuel costs are £70 per month and I’ve never been cold – not even in the harsh winter of 2005/06, but then I was taught real science and mathematics at school in the 1950s!!!!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      September 14, 2021 7:38 pm

      Strewth Ian, £215 per month is £2,580 per annum. How much are you using in kWh per fuel because that is an extremely large amount above average to be spending. I live in a 4 bed detached split level bungalow and I am only paying £78 per month (dual fuel) in Kent. You must be living in a large mansion to be paying that much or there is something seriously wrong with your system/metering.

  3. September 14, 2021 11:22 am

    Since we release next to no manmade CO2, net zero is a wasteful, ruinous sham.
    A huge own goal, without relieving benefits.

    • Michael permalink
      September 14, 2021 1:43 pm

      “Since we release next to no manmade CO2…”

      The actual figure as a percentage of the atmosphere is 0.00000845%.

      How much closer to zero can you get??????

      • Broadlands permalink
        September 16, 2021 5:57 pm

        Actually, we must release CO2…it comes out of smokestacks and other exhaust pipes, including our own. The problem is what effect does it have on the climate? So far, very little. An increase in the global temperature anomaly of less than one degree C.That’s the climate emergency and existential crisis requiring its quantitative removal from the atmosphere in huge amounts to lower it.

  4. Eddy Barrows permalink
    September 14, 2021 11:47 am

    This report is an appalling demonstration of either gross ignorance or deceit by the Prime Minister and is compounded by the pusillanimous attitude of most of the Conservative MPs with their cowardly heads firmly in the sand.
    Historians of the future will surely shake their heads in disbelief that governments of modern western nations with ample means of energy provision and with plenty of time to develop future alternatives should betray their citizens in this way.

    • Colin R Brooks AKA Dung permalink
      September 14, 2021 12:56 pm

      You are too, too kind Mr Barrows! Boris is both ignorant and a bare faced liar.

      • Curious George permalink
        September 14, 2021 6:15 pm

        That’s the spirit of the Special Atlantic Relationship.

  5. Jack Broughton permalink
    September 14, 2021 11:55 am

    The beginnings of realism perhaps???
    “Big aches from little toe-corns grow”

  6. September 14, 2021 12:18 pm

    Do our MPs have any brains? Any at all?

  7. Phoenix44 permalink
    September 14, 2021 12:21 pm

    The wind companies know they have the government over a barrel. So they happily play along with the misrepresentation, bidding low amounts in the certain knowledge they will be able to charge what they need when they are the only source of capacity. Boris knows this but as ever with Boris, he thinks he can somehow make it right when the crunch comes. I think he’s in for a rude awakening this time.

  8. Elwood permalink
    September 14, 2021 12:30 pm

    Hands up everyone who voted for Boris….

    • dave permalink
      September 15, 2021 8:14 am

      Many did vote for Boris knowing full well he was merely the least bad representative of a political Establishment of duffers and duds. We should be comforted by Will Roger’s “Thank God we are not getting all the government we pay for!”

      ‘Vertiginous’ drop in prices is funny when you look up ‘vertigo’ in the Dictionary, “A condition where a person has the sensation of movement when he is not really moving.”

  9. Beagle permalink
    September 14, 2021 12:36 pm

    I missed it but GWPF said Dr Constable will give evidence to the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee today at 10am. holding an inquiry into the costs of Net Zero, the Government’s plans for total decarbonisation of the economy and the role of Ofgem, the energy regulator.

  10. Tones permalink
    September 14, 2021 3:20 pm

    If Boris has lied to parliament he should be sacked

    • September 14, 2021 4:46 pm

      Net-zero *IS* a lie, fundamentally. Any MP supporting it needs to go.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      September 15, 2021 10:41 am

      He lies all the time and so does most of his government. Take the delay in introducing border controls on imports from the EU. The truth is that the border control posts at Dover, Portsmouth, Holyhead, Pembroke Dock amongst others are not ready and may not even have been started yet. Contrast that with the lies peddled by Frost and Mordant.

  11. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    September 14, 2021 3:57 pm

    Mr Nut Nut PM’s insanity is showing. Like his hero, Dementia Joe.

  12. John Hultquist permalink
    September 14, 2021 4:56 pm

    The PM shall be mocked for use of vertiginous*, in a manner similar to Obama when musing about the high price of Arugula.
    Is this not anthropomorphizing? Asking for a friend.

    *suffering from dizziness

  13. tom0mason permalink
    September 14, 2021 4:58 pm

    In politics ‘saving face’ is important, as this government descends into authoritarian methods the importance of ‘saving face’ grows.
    Politics is all about presentation and statements. Political statements these days are contrivances of artistic verisimilitude that cloak sophistry in beguiling semantics.

    All too often, political statements are subterfuges and stratagems designed to cloud the significance of their outrageous lies. Lies that omit the salient details and often deliberately misinterpret reality; lies that add spurious concepts with ill-defined and ambiguous verbiage; lies wrapped in comforting soundbites that hide any detrimental impacts while allowing easy access to plausible deniability. All of these are evident with Bozo Johnson’s corrupt and destructive government of self-aggrandizing fools.
    It’s all about power and money, for the party, for individuals, for the political cronies. If observed ‘truths’ are deployed they are mere decorations designed to obscure the larger political deception.

    Has this UK government really set the stage to ‘build back better’ ?

    • David Wild permalink
      September 14, 2021 9:39 pm

      tomomason: Your question is self-answering, as we all know. Government isn’t capable of “building back better”.
      I used to work at a senior level in a business that had a lot of dealings with central government. My colleagues “on the front line” used to always rush home to watch the latest edition of Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister. They reckoned to be able to identify the characters. In fact, the authors always maintained they used composite characters. This probably means that ALL the characters (Govt and Civil Service) were pretty much the same.

      • September 14, 2021 10:40 pm

        The problems we have been enduring with Boris stem from what he looks like and is, a fool, in both the historical and the modern usage, of a politician.

  14. Barrie Emmett permalink
    September 14, 2021 5:44 pm

    Carry on like this and we will all be bankrupt and frozen. Time to go for the Johnsons of No. 10.

  15. tomo permalink
    September 14, 2021 7:00 pm

    I see that the spike in gas prices that has some folk a bit jittery is apparently down to Brussels banning EU countries from contracting to buy Russian gas unless Russia gives money to Ukraine – that’s pretty dodgy imho.

    Definitely designed to nettle Vladimir and likely to tick off a few folk dealing with September snowfall.

    • tomo permalink
      September 14, 2021 7:08 pm

      purportedly ….

      Still, with Nord Stream 2 completed one might expect supply demand to do its thing….

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        September 16, 2021 1:55 pm

        No date yet for actual gas flow. They will have to purge the line and pressurise it and run commissioning tests first. A number of suggestions that flow will be cut via Ukraine to Baumgarten in Austria in compensation. UK gas prices are showing a premium until April when demand should fall, so no expectation in markets of much fundamental easing of tightness of supply.

    • Duker permalink
      September 15, 2021 5:35 am

      That Twitter link has no mention of EU banning Nordstream 2 gas unless..
      Germans would veto it anyway.

  16. cookers52 permalink
    September 15, 2021 6:18 am

    My view is the UK Government and population has been traumatised by the pandemic lockdowns and now we believe even bad weather is a threat that must be dealt with.

    Government policy often has the opposite effect to what was intended. Net zero actually makes us more vulnerable to extreme weather, cost is a secondary problem.

    In UK we are vulnerable to drought and flooding not because of climate change but because of Government policies. No new reservoirs have been built since 1991, and a land use planning policy that encourages development on flood plains.

    Also government policies have led to unanticipated rapid population growth mainly driven by net migration of 300k per year has stretched our national infrastructure , but the Government intended the opposite.

    SNAFU.

    • dave permalink
      September 15, 2021 9:13 am

      “…unanticipated population growth…”

      Unanticipated? Deliberate I suggest, Blair and Brown (and pretty much the whole ‘active’ Labour Party) were so frustrated by the failure of the traditional, white, working-class, people of Britain to embrace their subtly updated form of Marxism, that they grew to actually hate them (Brown’s sotto voce response to an ordinary Labour woman’s comments, ‘Bigot!’, might ring a bell.) And so they began a policy of destruction of that indigenous class, based on the Marxist theory of ‘the reserve army of the unemployed’* i.e., in this particular case, a flood of cheap immigrant workers. They also encouraged outsourcing to India, and temporarily** cheap Chinese imports, all to put further pressure on their customary employments .

      It also helps twenty tears later our even more Marxist ‘woke’ generation to ‘make amends’ to whomever they can think of in the world at large. So our police are put to work, beamingly greeting the little armadas crossing the Channel – always in one direction n’est-ce pas?

      * Supposed to be a weapon of the Capitalists, but hey what the heck.

      ** Loss leaders.

  17. September 15, 2021 9:27 am

    If heh knew the truth he would have decided to end the zero carbon policy, though he might in reality have complied with his current squeeze’s trenchamt instructions.

  18. Tony Martin permalink
    September 15, 2021 12:49 pm

    Paul, David Coe’s study on the Impct of Greenhouse Gases on Euilibrium Earth Temperatures 23/8 seems to have been pulled. I have been accused in the local press of inventing this article. Has the IJAOS been nobbled?

  19. Phil O'Sophical permalink
    September 15, 2021 7:48 pm

    “It is critical that Britain’s decarbonisation policies are both affordable and technologically feasible.”

    So in Mackinlay’s first sentence he accepts that decarbonisation is necessary, hence he accepts:
    the first scam, that the world is warming dangerously,
    the second scam, that CO2 is a significant contributor to that warming,
    the third scam, that man’s contribution to rising CO2 is other than a statistical ripple,
    the fourth scam, that any action humankind may take on CO2 can affect that warming.

    And, although interventions like his are a start, they are addressing symptoms – illiterate policies, the costs and the impracticalities and the lies – not the cause, and sadly this is the position of the whole GWPF.

  20. September 15, 2021 9:10 pm

    It is obvious that the whole process of decarbonisaion be dropped and worldwide
    .
    After all,the ferociously maligned Pres. Trump did that and in a nation with significant greenhouse gas output.

    I have seen no reports suggesting any harm came of that very shrewd volte face and it fell to his addled successor to reverse Trump’s realistic policy.

  21. M E permalink
    September 16, 2021 12:21 pm

    They are breathing carbon monoxide from motor vehicles in underground carparks.!

    But they don’t know what the difference is between carbon, a solid ,and the gases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide . You may laugh, but ask any politician or journalist, except those with medical qualifications, which gas they breathe out when they exhale.

  22. Stuart Brown permalink
    September 16, 2021 6:10 pm

    Off topic, but this made me laugh… Not sure if it means McKinley has an uphill struggle to get people to pay attention, or that he would be a shoe-in for PM if he stood for a reduced cake tax!

    “The word cake was mentioned ten times more often than climate change on British TV last year, a new report finds.

    New research by the BAFTA-backed sustainability project albert suggests terms such as wind and solar power were mentioned under 500 times, comparable with banana bread and beer garden.”

    https://www.energylivenews.com/2021/09/16/word-cake-surpassed-climate-change-in-mentions-on-british-tv/

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