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Energy rationing is inevitable without a fundamental rethink of net zero–David Frost

July 1, 2022

By Paul Homewood

There is still some common sense around.

David Frost in the Telegraph:


We need an energy policy that delivers power, at acceptable cost, whenever we need it – because an advanced economy without that will not stay advanced for long.

An announcement on fracking is coming next week, says Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business and Energy Secretary. That will be an important decision. But it is only part of the picture. Nothing is more vital to a modern economy than copious supplies of energy.
But the truth is that neither we nor the EU have an energy policy that can actually deliver it. Fundamentally misconceived, exposed by the Covid switch-off/switch-on of the world economy and then the war in Ukraine, our approach needs a rethink. Without that, all ministers can do is put in place increasingly complex and expensive palliatives until, in due course, they are overwhelmed by events.
What is going wrong? To understand properly we have to look at the fundamentals.
Let’s take the 2050 net zero target as a given for the moment. There are only two ways of getting there.
The first is to put in place by 2050 systems of energy supply that are both carbon-free and capable of generating the energy we need at a cost which people and businesses can actually pay.
I don’t see how we are going to do this with current technology and the attempt to get there will be extremely expensive.
Of course, we might get lucky with fusion power. But otherwise, the route there by renewables – wind, solar – doesn’t work because you require back-up for when they aren’t generating power. Battery technology is not good enough, so you need to run a parallel gas grid, and less efficiently than gas on its own because you have to turn it on and off as the wind blows. Obviously that is going to be more expensive, and it gets more so the more renewables you have. That is why it is simply not true to say that “gas is expensive and wind is free”, as so many do.
Alternatively, we could invest properly in nuclear, although the Government does not seem wholeheartedly committed to it, and until they are, it won’t get built. Or else you have to decarbonise gas and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – but unfortunately it hasn’t been shown to work at scale yet.
The other way of reaching the target is to crush demand for energy so that it matches what can be produced, carbon-free, with the technology you do have. That can be done, a bit, by encouraging energy efficiency and measures such as home insulation – although the costs are high – around £25-30 billion every year until 2050 (5-6p on income tax unless people are made to pay themselves).
It can also be done, a bit, by hectoring. But many of us tune that out, so it becomes compulsion, on electric cars, heat pump boilers, and so on.
And making people do things they wouldn’t voluntarily do is not only unpopular – as the Government is finding – but a limit on prosperity. If a heat pump is as good as your current boiler, you will buy it anyway. If it isn’t, you’re worse off.
The fundamental problem for the Government is that it can’t be honest about these two routes to its target, because one is impractical and the other deeply unpopular. But in the end, it can’t be avoided: either the net zero target has to evolve, or there must be compulsory demand control and rationing.
This week’s Climate Change Committee statement was at least honest in pointing out that current Government policy won’t deliver the target. But the committee doesn’t have to worry about public opinion. The Government does. So, rather than face up to it, this Government’s strategy so far has been to obfuscate, pretend the technology is better than it is, and throw sand in our eyes with fantasies about thousands of green jobs based on renewables. (When will it realise that these new jobs are a cost of renewables, not a benefit?)
That strategy has now come adrift because of the Covid and Ukraine crises. The cost of these supply shocks together with the huge costs of the move to net zero can’t be borne by individuals or businesses. This has been compounded by the irresponsibility over security of supply: there is essentially no gas storage capacity, the Government has realised it can’t necessarily get its hands on gas in the open market, certainly not cheaply, and the electricity interconnectors aren’t as reliable as it thought. In short, the Government has been caught on the hop.
So what is to be done? The Government must realise that it faces a crisis. In the short run it must keep the lights on or pay a heavy price. It should then drop the mad dash for medieval wind power technology and focus on the only acceptably low-carbon form of power available – gas. Get shale gas extraction going, commit long-term to the North Sea, put in place proper storage – and build some new gas power stations. By all means commit to nuclear, too – but only gas solves the problems in a meaningful time frame.
Of course I don’t think this will happen. We will muddle along, and then, one day soon, when we realise we don’t have the energy our economy needs, whoever is in power then will resort to rationing.
I think this because I fear a different world view is now deeply embedded across politics. It’s one that sees industrial civilisation as damaging to the planet and low energy use as desirable. It’s one that thinks some form of original sin was committed in this country by James Watt and Richard Arkwright, for which we must now expiate – a view shared by the Prime Minister, to judge by his comments in Glasgow at Cop26.
We must take on this view before it is too late. Modern civilisation needs energy, and lots of it. Abundant energy powered the Industrial Revolution and everything that came with it – proper housing, enough food, scientific and medical advances, economic growth that frees up time to do things you like doing as well as working.
I don’t like poverty, I don’t like artificial limits on human aspiration and potential, and when you don’t have enough energy you get a lot of both. That’s why we need to change tack now. We need an energy policy that delivers power, at acceptable cost, whenever we need it – because an advanced economy without that will not stay advanced for long.

  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    July 1, 2022 9:49 pm

    A beautifully succinct review of the situation for laymen / politicos.
    Wish that they would read such articles, but these are devil-spawn to the believers.

    A pity that he did not say that the whole CO2-based science is junk science, but that would blow minds!

    • James Coupe permalink
      July 2, 2022 10:32 am

      I fully agree. Carbon Dioxide is good for the planet, not bad.

  2. July 1, 2022 9:59 pm

    ‘Or else you have to decarbonise gas and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – but unfortunately it hasn’t been shown to work at scale yet.’

    A backwards way of saying it’s been shown not to work at scale, unless possibly your budget is unlimited and your luck is too.

  3. Stephen H permalink
    July 1, 2022 10:14 pm

    Looks like the “climate catastrophe” hasn’t adversely affected the much discussed wheat crop. Millions of tons might be stuck in Ukraine but US futures are trading slightly lower than they were prior to the invasion

  4. Cheshire Red permalink
    July 1, 2022 10:17 pm

    Huge numbers of BTL posts agreeing with Frost and calling for him to take over from BoJO the Clown as Tory PM.

    We can rest easy knowing that CCHQ will move heaven and earth to prevent Frost from standing as a PPC. The last thing Clown Boy wants is a serious contender for the top job.

  5. Robert Christopher permalink
    July 1, 2022 10:19 pm

    “An announcement on fracking is coming next week, says Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business and Energy Secretary. That will be an important decision. But it is only part of the picture. Nothing is more vital to a modern economy than copious supplies of energy.”

    The announcement will be delayed until next week so the last sentence can be explained to the Cabinet, and the Senior Civil Service, no doubt.

    They only have to see what is happening in Germany where deindustrialisation looks on the cards. Is that the German Greens’ objective?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 1, 2022 10:35 pm

      I read somewhere that the fracking review must be science based. When it was originally announced I had look at the BGS site. Suffice to say they are fully invested in the climate change movement. If their review is not tainted by the politics I’ll be amazed.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 2, 2022 8:08 am

      Yes. The Greens are a development of the 1960s “back to nature” movement. They view modern industrial economies as fundamentally wrong, and hate oil and gas with a passion. It is an irrational, delusional movement that romanticises and deifies nature in – ironically – a wholly anthropomorphic way. It is an emotional movement and so entirely resistant to logic and facts.

      • Crowcatcher permalink
        July 2, 2022 8:18 am

        And they all wear nylon clothing and drive their cars to their various “rallies”!!!

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      July 2, 2022 8:52 am

      He’ll bottle it. Kick the can further down the road.

  6. Patsy Lacey permalink
    July 1, 2022 10:43 pm

    David Frost for PM of would that be not Conservative?

    • Xmbea permalink
      July 2, 2022 8:06 am

      He’d get my vite

      • Xmbea permalink
        July 2, 2022 8:06 am

        Vote even

  7. July 1, 2022 11:06 pm

    Reblogged this on delboydave and commented:
    Common sense about net zero and our energy security? Now there’s a novel idea!

  8. David Calder permalink
    July 1, 2022 11:10 pm

    The high energy cost is a deliberate manipulation of all western govs beholden to the great reset (of WEF fame). If we don’t ALL make investment possible in hydrocarbon energy VERY SOON we are ALL in deep do do. The uni educated crowd and increasingly; secondary school ‘teaching’ has enabled the lunatics in charge to push this made up climate nonsense effectively so that the sad woketards will literally vote for their own destruction … up to a point. However the turning may come too late to save much from the wreckage.

  9. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    July 1, 2022 11:35 pm

    Net zero is a very stupid idea and anyone who believes in it should stop exhaling CO2, right now.

  10. markl permalink
    July 2, 2022 12:07 am

    Well said. Until we can replace current fossil fueled energy generation with proven, practical, and affordable renewable energy we are wasting our resources.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 2, 2022 8:09 am

      Why would we want to replace it?

      • Crowcatcher permalink
        July 2, 2022 8:24 am

        Because, one day, we will exhaust all extractable supplies of fossil fuels – probably a few handed years yet, but still inevitable.

      • Adam Gallon permalink
        July 2, 2022 8:55 am

        Because they will run out, or become uneconomical to extract.

  11. Richard Bell permalink
    July 2, 2022 1:13 am

    Very well said …… If you want to take this thinking further then read Alex Epstein’s new book FOSSIL FUTURE , an outstanding read which arms you with the information to argue the fact we need more Energy .

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      July 2, 2022 2:26 pm

      I’m about one-third of the way through it. Highly recommended.
      It’s a well-rehearsed argument. We are depriving much of the world of the right to enjoy the same living standards we do on the back of a fallacy, namely that CO2 concentration has a major effect on atmospheric temperatures and that we need to at worst stabilise that concentration or disaster will follow.
      I have not ever seen one shred of scientific evidence that gives that claim any credibility.
      Worse, the environmental activists are permitted, even encouraged, to trash the environment they claim to protect and pollute the atmosphere they wish to keep clean in order to create inefficient, costly, and anything but non-polluting energy sources simply and solely because they do not, at the point of use, emit CO2.
      Any other environmental damage or pollution or cost in human lives is acceptable as long as they can argue that no CO2 is released. And our politicians and media and even some of our supposedly well-qualified scientists have fallen for it. The biggest con since the South Sea Bubble!!

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        July 2, 2022 6:24 pm

        Ahh…there’s a thing. If the plebs got cheap/affordable energy out of the control of the Biden/Debens of this world they might start thinking for themselves instead of being beholden to the gaulieters who dole out their rations. WWII taught us about ration coupon spivs – and what to do with them.

  12. marlene permalink
    July 2, 2022 3:28 am

    How about using what we have in abundance, is reliable, and cheaper?  Or is it their intention to lose our advantage? 

    • July 2, 2022 8:32 am

      The latter. David Frost’s plea to rectify this manufactured crisis or reduce our economic prowess, is too little, too late and misses the real imperative entirely.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 2, 2022 11:56 am


  13. Tammly permalink
    July 2, 2022 5:59 am

    My god! A politician who actually understands reality!

    • Tones permalink
      July 2, 2022 3:06 pm

      The only person in the Palace of Westminster with a BRAIN

  14. July 2, 2022 7:08 am

    With such knowledge and commonsense, it is no wonder that Princess Nut Nut had Lord Frost removed from the Government.

  15. Coeur de Lion permalink
    July 2, 2022 7:17 am

    Fits with Lord Lawson’s prediction that Net Zero will be ‘an unparalleled economic calamity’. Broughton above is right – there’s lots of ESC calculations giving v low numbers

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      July 5, 2022 5:30 pm

      And Happer & Wyngarden (2020) has shown very clearly using HITRAN that, based on clear sky conditions, the temperature increase for a doubling of CO2 from 400 to 800 ppm is……0.85 degC or thereabouts.

      Completely benign.

  16. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 2, 2022 8:11 am

    The fact that is so obvious and so basic yet apparently so radical tells us how far down the road of madness we have gone.

  17. GeoffB permalink
    July 2, 2022 8:35 am

    Until the climate change act is repealed or relaxed, then Net Zero is Law. Just change 100% to 50% carbon (dioxide) reduction and we are still leading the world and are can achieve 50%. Remember Mrs May changed the percentage from 80% to 100%, I do not think a vote was taken.

    • dennisambler permalink
      July 2, 2022 11:10 am

      “either the net zero target has to evolve” – has to be abandoned…

    • Dave Gardner permalink
      July 2, 2022 12:53 pm

      On amending the Climate Change Act target figure from 100% to 50%, it looks to me like the Act has been devised to stop the target figure going in that direction:


      2 Amendment of 2050 target or baseline year

      (1) The Secretary of State may by order—

      (a) amend the percentage specified in section 1(1);

      (b) amend section 1 to provide for a different year to be the baseline year.

      (2) The power in subsection (1)(a) may only be exercised—

      (a) if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in—

      (i) scientific knowledge about climate change, or

      (ii) European or international law or policy,

      that make it appropriate to do so, or

      (b) in connection with the making of—

      (i) an order under section 24 (designation of further greenhouse gases as targeted greenhouse gases), or

      (ii) regulations under section 30 (emissions from international aviation or international shipping).

      (3) The developments in scientific knowledge referred to in subsection (2) are—

      (a) in relation to the first exercise of the power in subsection (1)(a), developments since the passing of this Act;

      (b) in relation to a subsequent exercise of that power, developments since the evidential basis for the previous exercise was established.

      (4) The power in subsection (1)(b) may only be exercised if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in European or international law or policy that make it appropriate to do so.

      (5) An order under subsection (1)(b) may make consequential amendments of other references in this Act to the baseline year.

      (6) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.


      There has to be a significant development in scientific knowledge about climate change or in European or international law or policy to reduce the target figure, and those two issues are currently controlled by strong believers in AGW. An attempt to reduce the target figure would also be inevitably subject to legal challenges raised by the Green lobby.

      It would be simpler to repeal the Climate Change Act.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        July 2, 2022 2:32 pm

        2a(i) could do it. Scientific knowledge about climate change is greater than it was 13 years ago. If the political will was there the way could be found!

      • ThinkingScientist permalink
        July 5, 2022 5:32 pm

        IPCC scientific knowledge about climate change doesn’t appear to have changed for 40 years…..

  18. Jordan permalink
    July 2, 2022 9:55 am

    “Get shale gas extraction going, commit long-term to the North Sea, put in place proper storage – and build some new gas power stations…..only gas solves the problems in a meaningful time frame.”
    This is the only comment I would take issue with. Why would anybody ignore the international coal market to secure energy supply and to give ourselves the ability to switch between coal and gas? Is Frost too afraid to mention coal?
    The UK needs a fleet of new coal fired power stations located next to port facilities. This will double our access to primary energy resources, and give us the ability to choose between gas and coal, whichever is lower price. We’ve had that capability for the last 20 years, and look what happened when we destroyed it.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 4, 2022 11:07 am

      I would say that the power stations need to be located close to the major demand sources and not the ports. Which is how it used to be.

  19. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 2, 2022 10:28 am

    The online article in the DT is interesting inasmuch for the abysmal quality of the trolling. One persistent chap was adamant that wind turbines were the answer as they could be used to stabilise the grid!
    Overall, a very good piece by Frost who managed to be politically correct on AGW & Net Zero, when the general impression was that thought it was a load of tripe.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 3, 2022 10:03 am

      Harry, whenever I come across people quoting daft ideas about benefits of renewables, I usually ask them to discuss things such as formulae regarding Complex power in inductive loads versus capacitive loads or the merits of Static VAR compensators versus Synchronous Condensers. It always, always shuts them up.

      • Crowcatcher permalink
        July 3, 2022 10:27 am

        I ask them if they know the difference between a switching and non-switching contact or “How much of Britain’s energy consumption is electricity”?
        Both have them completely stumped!!!

      • Coeur de Lion permalink
        July 3, 2022 2:28 pm

        Being a thicko myself, I just ask them for their views on grid inertia. Mmmm

  20. Mick J permalink
    July 2, 2022 11:04 am

    Roy Spencer has a post discussing ICE v EV efficiency. A number of points that may interest. An extract below that mentions a point often raised re. losses in the grid, the US example gives some scale to those losses. Dr Spencer also has the UAH June global temperatures posted

    Most of what you will read about EVs versus ICE vehicles discuss how EVs are more efficient at converting the energy they carry into motion (e.g. here, and here , and here, and here, etc.) but this is only part of the equation. The generation, transmission, and battery storage of electricity is very inefficient compared to the refining and transport of gasoline, and those inefficiencies each year add up to more than all of the gasoline consumed in the U.S.


  21. Phil O'Sophical permalink
    July 2, 2022 12:26 pm

    This decision is the ultimate tell. It is such a no brainer, so black and white, so bleeding obvious what needs doing, and on a war footing, and I am talking about fast-tracking, action this day, not Ukraine.)

    If they go ahead we might begin to believe they do mean to serve the people, and ignorance and cock-up were the order of the day after all.
    If they turn it down we will know we were right all along, that they are in thrall (either through threats or remuneration from the usual suspects) to the globalist impoverishment/ enslavement agenda.

  22. Derek T permalink
    July 2, 2022 10:07 pm

    Excellent piece from Frost, but we also have some good views from Lord Lilley in the HofL – see here –

  23. July 2, 2022 10:28 pm

    Can anyone direct me to a comparison between the energy required to establish a single wind turbine vs the energy it can reasonably be expected to produce over its average lifetime? Thanks.

  24. July 3, 2022 5:26 pm

    There is a fundamental question to be asked and fully answered before any further commitment is made to respond to Climate Change / Global Warming / Net Zero / ESG (Environment Social and Governance)”, etc.

    Simply put: are Man-made CO2 emissions a future problem for Global temperature at all ??

    Compared to water vapour and clouds in the atmosphere, CO2 is a minor Greenhouse gas, contributing ~5-10% of the warming of the overall Greenhouse Effect. For cogent technical reasons, as CO2 concentration increases, its warming capability diminishes. At its current level of CO2 of ~410parts / million in the atmosphere, CO2’s warming effect is saturated. Whatever the scale of future Man-made CO2 emissions, those CO2 emissions can have very little warming effect in future. min 24>

    On the other hand, higher levels of atmospheric CO2 have already brought massive positive effects for plant growth and agricultural production Worldwide.
    Methane although a more powerful Greenhouse gas than CO2, reacts with Oxygen in the atmosphere and dissipates rapidly on its release, whether from the large natural sources or from Man-made release. Methane is currently ~1900 ppb, (parts / billion): it has an insignificant warming effect and like CO2 its effect also diminishes with increasing concentration.

    Beyond the “developed” Western world, all other Nations, including China, India and in Africa, dismiss the fallacy that CO2 is pollution at all. They have no interest in restraining the advances of their well-being to control what they know is a non-problem.
    Whatever energy self-harm the West indulges in, “to set an example”, the rest of the World, will be unconcerned about emitting whatever CO2 may result.

    In the expectation that Weather-Dependent power generation technologies would reduce emissions of Man-made CO2, the Western policy to combat “is still to install, heavily subsidise and give massive preferential legal support to Weather-Dependent “Renewable” Wind and Solar power for power generation.
    The Productivity of Weather-Dependent power generation is crucial when comparing the cost of providing an equivalent level of power to the Grid, as provided by conventional power generation technologies.

    In Europe the measured productivity of Weather-Dependent generators over the past 10 years has been:
    Onshore Wind 22.5%
    Offshore Wind 32.7%
    Combined Wind Power 23.5%
    Solar PV on grid 11.6%
    Combined Weather-Dependent Productivity 18.7%
    Whereas, conventional power generation works 24/7 and can perform at ~90% productivity, just accounting for normal maintenance.

    Solar and Wind power technologies are mature: very little performance improvement can be expected as their power production is now limited by immutable laws of physics.
    When these European productivity values are combined with the capital and long-term costs as assessed by the US EIA in 2022, their comparative results are:
    • Onshore Wind power provision is ~8-9 times the cost of Gas-firing
    • Offshore Wind power is ~16-25 times the cost of Gas-firing.
    • Solar power provision is about ~10-12 times the cost of Gas-firing
    Would anyone sane buy a car costing 8 – 25 times the normal price that only works one day in five, when you never know which day that might be ? And then insist that its technology is used to power the whole economy.

    The resulting excess expenditures across Europe to date compared to using Gas-firing for power generation can be estimated as:
    • Weather-Dependent “Renewables” 385GW
    • Weather-Dependent power output 2021 69GW
    • in wasted capital costs ~630 € billion
    • in wasted long-term costs over a 40-year service life ~2,040 € billion.
    This is the scale of direct fiscal damage that has been caused by the obstruction of Fracking throughout Europe, just to the benefit Russian Gas exports.

    It will be fruitless to continue ever more massive excess expenditures on Weather-Dependent “Renewables” to avert possible minor warming in the distant future.

    Weather-Dependency means that “Renewable” power is intermittent, unreliable and non-dispatchable, so, there will always be times, whatever the scale of future Weather-Dependent generation installed, when their power output will be virtually nil for Wind power in still Weather and nil for Solar power at night, on cloudy days and throughout the winter.

    The excess costs of European Weather-Dependent power generation 6/2022

    The equivalent estimated excess losses over using Gas-firing in the UK are:
    • installed 37.5Gigawatts
    • output 7.5 Gigawatts
    • capital excess cost ~£ 90 billion
    • long-term excess costs ~ £ 270 billion

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