Labour doesn’t understand Energy

Luciana Berger MP: Beautiful, but sadly misinformed

Ed Davey, jokingly known as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has finally realised, despite his green obsessions, that he can’t keep the lights on in Britain without a serious policy change.

We in UKIP launched our new Energy Policy last month in Birmingham, when I declared that on current policies the UK was at risk of electricity shortages and blackouts by 2020.  Far from being alarmist, it soon became clear that I wasn’t alarmist enough.  Two weeks later, the Government’s own electricity regulator Ofgem published a report warning of the risk of power outages not by 2020, but by 2015.  That’s little more than two years away.

Maybe Mr. Davey was galvanised by the Ofgem report.  Maybe his own civil servants gave him the bad news.  Or maybe he worked it out all by himself, because the facts are now overwhelmingly clear.  It’s too late to build nuclear in time for 2015.  The government is still running scared of Brussels on coal.  The only grown-up technology available in the time-scale is gas, and we need lots of it.  So it’s reported that Ed Davey is trying to use (or to create) a loophole in the draconian emissions rules with which the government has hanged itself, to enable him to build rather a lot of gas capacity.  Fast.

Fanfare.  Drum roll.  Enter Luciana Berger MP, stage left.  She, we are told, is Labour’s Spokesman (or as she might say, Spokesperson) on Climate Change.

Ms. Berger castigates Ed Davey for creating uncertainty for those who might invest in green projects in the UK.  (Personally I am delighted that John Hayes, and Owen Paterson, and now Ed Davey are creating uncertainty about the future of renewables investment, precisely because it will deter investors and hopefully put an end to the nonsense).

She reminds us that seven companies recently warned that they would pull out of renewables investment in the UK if the government watered down emissions targets.  She tells us that “a low carbon economy has the potential to create 400,000 jobs in the UK”.  At the same time she calls on the government to “drive down prices for consumers” — even though it is the very policies she’s arguing for that are driving up prices.

Ms. Berger needs some basic lessons in economics.  Hasn’t she read, first of all, the recent research (including that by Prof Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University)  showing that our primary renewable technology, wind power, fails to achieve significant emissions reductions, and fails to add significant incremental generating capacity?  Has she read the research by Verso Economics   and others that each “green job” created in the renewables industry costs several jobs in the real economy, as higher energy prices create a barrier to growth and investment?  This is not about “green jobs”.  It’s about green unemployment.  In net terms, 400,000 green jobs mean an extra million or so unemployed.

Doesn’t she know that Europe is becoming hopelessly uncompetitive as we force up energy prices?  Or that the UK has the third highest energy prices in the developed world (after Italy and Japan)?  Does she know that natural gas prices in the USA have halved in the last couple of years, thanks to shale gas, and now stand at a quarter of the European price?  Or that India and China rely on cheap coal, with 1200 new coal-fired power stations in the pipeline?

Hasn’t she read the report from the Boston Consulting Group, arguing that the USA is set to take over from China as the world’s manufacturing hub in five to ten years?  That this is partly as a result of more competitive labour costs, as wages rise in China and productivity rises in the USA — but is mostly down to low energy prices?

Can’t she see that what’s driving jobs and industry and investment out of the EU is not just taxation and regulation but hopelessly uncompetitive energy prices?  And doesn’t she see that our renewables obsession is driving up prices as it undermines our energy security and unbalances the Grid?  And forcing millions of pensioners into fuel poverty?

Let me guess.  I think the answer to most of these questions is “No, she can’t (or doesn’t)”.  Still obsessed with greenery and the climate obsessions of last century, she’s intent on driving the British economy down a cul-de-sac of failure and poverty.  Yet another reason why Labour is not fit to govern.

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13 Responses to Labour doesn’t understand Energy

  1. tomgowans says:

    “Ed Davey, jokingly known as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change”.

    Edward Davey is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. No joke about it.

    The Energy part of his brief seems pretty simple: keep the lights on.

    Climate Change would appear a little trickier. Are we to see him hauled in front of a commission demanding to know why his department expended so much taxpayer revenue yet March continues to be windy and April rather damp?

    Joking aside, I read the first line of your post and thought, ‘Another rant’.

    • I’d regard it not as “a rant” but as a tightly-argued and well-referenced polemic. But you’re welcome to your view.

      • tomgowans says:

        I didn’t say the article was a rant, I said that the opening sentence suggested it might be, that’s all.

        In truth, and only in my opinion which, as a champion of free speech you acknowledge as my right, your article did read ever so teensy weensy bit like a rant. Lots of bold type and such sentences as: “Fanfare. Drum roll. Enter Luciana Berger MP, stage left.”

        Not the usual sober unemotional appraisal I have come to expect since I started reading your blog with considerable interest. Cut out the histrionics and your point, along with others you have made, is unarguable.

        The point I was trying to make, evidently clumsily, was that some of us prefer our politicians to be sober, unemotional, free of rhetoric.

        But, dare I say it without causing further offence, you are entitled to your opinion ;-)

    • Hi Tom. Thank you for your thoughtful response. But I think that many of my readers find colourful language amusing, and I certainly enjoy writing it. I hope that phrases that amuse me may also amuse most readers — but you can’t please all of the people all of the time! With regard to Ed Davey, I’m sure that the PM regarded him as a serious appointment (although also a compromise made under the exigencies of coalition). But surely the rest of us are entitled to a little hollow laughter at the idea that our country’s energy policy should be in the hands of a man so deeply committed to last century’s obsession with climate change, and to hopelessly uneconomic methods of electricity generation?

      • tomgowans says:

        I can imagine that after a day of beating your head against the dam that is the EU, freely expressing your well considered and well referenced views (goodness, it is like doing a thesis) on your own blog would provide some form of welcome relief. I admire your restraint when it comes to expletives the use of which would, of course, be wholly inappropriate in such a serious public forum.

        When it comes to those who continue to push greater EU integration as well as a deeply flawed energy policy the term, ‘Bishop Bashers’ comes to my mind. Naturally I accept this is only my opinion and not a view you or the party you represent, the UKIP, would endorse.

  2. mikestallard says:

    I am in Australia at the moment and the parliament is actually discussing green energy and climate change openly and coming to their own conclusions. Of course, as a Pom, I cannot comment on all this. But it really is refreshing to see the matter discussed openly with a view to coming to a conclusion instead of just being shuffled past us in UK with a pack of assumptions and, yes, half truths as we blindly do what Berlaymont decides.

  3. J Bowers says:

    “Chesapeake Energy (CHK) claims average EUR’s for the Marcellus at 4.2 Bcf. Range Resources (RRC) has claimed average EUR’s as high as 5.7 Bcf in investor presentations. According to the USGS, however, the average EUR for the Marcellus turns out to be about 1.1 Bcf.”
    http://energypolicyforum.org/2012/09/02/usgs-releases-damning-eurs-for-shale/

    Ewww. Wouldn’t want to have invested in that baby.

    “In the past three years [in Texas], shale gas production rose 20%. You would think this huge increase would greatly impact the overall supply. However, if we look at the NAT GAS production coming out of Texas, we find that total supply has actually declined since 2008:”
    http://www.silverdoctors.com/huge-downward-revision-of-shale-gas-reserves-its-impact-on-gold-silver/

    Are the same methods used for estimates here as were used in the US? Maybe you could ask Luciana Berger MP?

  4. machokong says:

    Labour’s hell bent on introducing all manner of washed up former Italian models into their party, they’d see Britain playing catch-up to the Italian parliament.

  5. Mike Spilligan says:

    Sorry to be late to this post, though I’ve no comment to add to the good sense and general tenor of it. I would like to say that I always enjoy the sardonic humour that you spice your postings with.

  6. Derek says:

    An excellent Tour de Force as usual, Roger. I will link to it on my blog. I note that the power shortages forecast by Ofgem are for the 2015/16 timespan, just after the next general election. If they materialise they will dominate the news and the minds of voters for the following election. Sounds like the next election winners could be taking up a poisoned chalice.

  7. J Bowers says:

    “Hasn’t she read, first of all, the recent research (including that by Prof Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University) showing that our primary renewable technology, wind power, fails to achieve significant emissions reductions, and fails to add significant incremental generating capacity?”

    Which Imperial College has now responded to (or is that, ‘debunked’?).

    Supplementary evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on the economics of wind energy

    • Thanks. I’ll check it out, and look for Professor Hughes’s response. But it is clear that the emissions savings achieved by wind, after taking account of the inefficient running of the fossil-fuelled back-up, is much less than the raw numbers claimed by the wind industry. The dispute is simply about how much less.

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