A load of hot air

Once again the consumer gets hit as politicians increase their emissions over energy policy

Wind turbines are certainly unsightly, but are they also useless?
Simon Miller
On 23 November 2012 13:49

I have always believed that if we are going to solve our energy problems the best way to help would be to connect turbines to the Palace of Westminster to collect all the hot air generated within.

Be it talk about Europe, sympathy for the “ordinary working family” (©all parties come elections) or economic plans, the energy that must be produced by the chambers must surely be looked at in all our interests.

With energy companies reporting record half-year profits despite doubts over whether it is a free market at all, politicians came up with an idea that there must be simpler tariffs for the “ordinary working family” so they knew where to get the best deals.

That is if they ever switched. Ofgem found that four out of five customers stuck to their current provider even though they could be saving hundreds if not thousands of pounds. Indeed, in 2011, data suggested that the incidence of switching energy supplier was showing signs of longer term decline with both gas and electricity switching down five points since 2007.

So politicians should be applauded right? We should be grateful that those troughers in SW1 understand our pains; understand that the money in the wallet is shrinking and they will do anything they can to help us right?

I mean, the last thing that those on the green benches want to do is make things harder for the “ordinary working family” and take even more money from our pockets. Surely no right-thinking politician, watching as government borrowing goes up and tax receipts fall, would want to lumber us with £100-plus extra on our energy bills.


Today, the high priest of green, sorry I mean the energy secretary Ed Davey announced that the grand energy plan that could see an extra £178 a year being put on each household’s bill. As always, whenever a politician has a good idea, you can bet that eventually this will cost you and me money.

The energy deal will see £7.6bn a year going toward the costs of building “greener” power stations by 2020 – around three times the current level – with around £95 per household going towards nuclear and the renewables.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think that we should be looking at energy security for our country. But it’s difficult to show too much delight when we are bedded to wind power – that “renewable” energy that costs more to produce, is inefficient, and blights our countryside and seas.

According to a report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK government's targets for renewable generation in 2020 will require total wind capacity of 36 GW backed up by 13 GW of open cycle gas plants plus large complementary investments in transmission capacity. The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a capital cost of £13 billion.

Loosely speaking this means an investment outlay of around £130bn for wind compared to £13bn for Gas.

And it is not even that UK industry benefits – the majority of a wind farm is manufactured in Netherlands, China or Germany. At least Hitachi’s proposal for nuclear plants would see a commitment of 60 percent of manufacturing over here.

Laughably, the yoghurt weavers have accused the government of abandoning its green policy but there is one question to which no-one ever seems to give a convincing argument, namely, why should the UK don the hairshirt?

The country contributes about 1.75 percent of the world's CO2 output. According to the European Commission, the average annual increases in CO2 worldwide over the past ten years is 2.7 percent. So let’s say we went carbon neutral – our emissions would be replaced by the rest of the world within seven months.

Even if we had to rely on gas, according to the Carbon Trust, that is still half the emissions of coal, and with more efficient generators this, in theory, could go down as well.

We are currently sitting on around 5.7trn cubic metres of shale gas – the equivalent of the reserves of Venezuela. But like all things that are against the green doctrine, it is declared too dangerous, too toxic to mine shale gas, even though there is still no direct evidence of long term damage. In fact, and even more disgusting, the self-proclaimed defenders of the Earth have allowed us to drift, watching the US shale revolution from afar as our bills go ever-increasingly up.

I do not know the feasibility of fracking our shale gas but I do know that it is the responsibility of a government to explore all forms of energy security for our country. Unfortunately it looks like the sheer fear – and possibly self-interest – of the green lobby, with its vast industry, is preventing a sensible exploration of this resource.

And that is the thing about the whole green argument. Be it the UN or Greenpeace, wind farm-subsidised fathers-in-law or green company-employed wives and fellow politicians, the argument is that we in the UK should don the hairshirt.

But there’s still no answer to the question: why? What perceivable reason is there for throwing us into energy rationing and penury because of a paganistic worship at the throne of Big Green?

The only reasons I can see is that this is about self-interested parties and not about the good of the country. The only people that seem to be benefiting from these energy policies are energy companies themselves, the green industry, and certain relations of the Palace of Westminster. The ones that don’t benefit? That’s right us.

The next time a politician talks about concerns for the “ordinary working family” just think about the emissions they are spouting.

Simon Miller is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator

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