I thought I would share some recent correspondence I had with the Labour PPC for Charnwood Eric Goodyer on the subject of Oil and Gas Security:-
Good morning Roger
I hope that you are well. Putting aside our differences on renewable energy, I have a question for you on fossil fuels. How would you propose to ensure future security of supply as most of our fossil fuels now come from unstable regions of the world? UK coal is insufficient for our needs. As you may know I was designing instrumentation for the trans-Siberian pipeline back in the late 1970s and we all now know that we are far too heavily dependant on Russia for gas. Oil is hardly secure either. I was just curious as your thoughts on the security of supply issue.
And my response in turn was as follows:-
You’re welcome, Eric. Always happy to oblige. Remember that while I have few concerns about CO2 emissions, I am as concerned as you are about energy security. You may like to know that I attended a fairly high-powered dinner debate in the parliament last night where we heard presentations from BP, Shell, WWF, and the Association of Brazilian Sugar Producers (re ethanol).
I am not opposed to renewables in principle. But I insist that they must make sense in both economic and environmental terms, and not be simply knee-jerk reactions to salve the consciences of the chattering classes, responding to the plea that we should “do something”, no matter how ineffective (like wind farms).
Our first priority should be to ensure secure, reliable, mainstream base-load power for a growing economy. In my view, this means new-build coal and nuclear, and I commend your Labour government for deciding, however belatedly, to go for nuclear. I regret the Little Green Devils who protest at the site of a proposed new coal-fired station in Kent. You say “UK coal in insufficient etc etc”. But there is a great deal more coal we could access and use at today’s prices, and it is only the grotesque distortion of subsidies in the EU’s Single Market that makes German coal look preferable.
After that, I believe there will continue to be a place (albeit hopefully a reducing one) for oil and gas. It is important that we seek to diversify our sources as much as we can and reduce dependence (especially) on Russia.
Then there is a place for hydro, maybe for tidal and solar, certainly for some biofuels and a considerable role for bio-mass. We want a degree of distributed distribution, with combined heat-and-power plants. Also of course there is scope for major efficiency gains in our use of energy. And I hope that for our grandchildren, there will be nuclear fusion. Then we can stop worrying.