Dragon fails to declare an interest

Deborah Meaden, it seems, is a dragon on Dragon’s Den, a programme I know by reputation but have never watched. I thought it was offensive, by the way, to describe a lady as “a dragon” (remember those green windscreen sun-shades marked “George” and “Dragon”?).  But she refers to herself as a dragon, so presumably I can do so too.

She has recently been sending out an e-mail on behalf of “Friends of the Earth”, calling on recipients to write to Ed Davey (described as “Minister for Energy and Climate Change”, following the unlamented Chris Huhne), calling for more renewable energy.

In it, she says: “I’m supporting Friends of the Earth’s Clean British Energy campaign because gas, coal and nuclear are the technologies of the past. We can’t afford not to switch the UK to home-grown clean power.   The Government’s upcoming energy bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise the way we produce electricity in this country”.

Let’s think this through. Gas, coal and nuclear are energies of the past?  When the USA is enjoying a new industrial revolution based on cheap, indigenous shale-gas?  And shale gas has been discovered in commercial quantities in the UK?  Has she noticed that wind power is the energy of the ninth century (according to Wikipedia)?   How’s that for “the energy of the past”?  She should read some history, and try to get a sense of perspective.

“We can’t afford not to switch” — to expensive, intermittent generating technologies that can never supply base-load power, which will drive up the cost of energy and force jobs and industries and investment out of the UK entirely?  Technologies that leave pensioners in fuel poverty, and which will result in power shortages and blackouts by the end of the decade?  Can’t afford not to?  Get real, Deborah.  The truth is we can’t afford renewables.

She is supposed to be a business adviser, yet she is failing to offer the advice investors need in this area.  So let me offer it anyway.  Never base a business plan on government fiat, which can be changed overnight at the stroke of a pen.  Never base a business plan on subsidies or feed-in tariffs or virtual commodities like carbon credits.

She should see the letters I’ve had from investors who set up businesses as installers, and hired staff, based on government subsidies for solar PV, only to be cut off at the knees as the feed-in tariffs were halved overnight.  These are real people, real jobs, real money — wasted and ruined because they relied on subsidies.

Hasn’t she seen the disaster of “green energy”?  Companies set up in a flush of enthusiasm, destroyed by the failure of green policies.  The Chinese solar manufacturers forced to sell below cost because demand lags so far behind their optimistic projections.  The American Solyndra project, touted by President Obama as a text-book example of a successful green project, which went belly-up soon afterwards?

Hasn’t she read the research from several countries showing that each “green” job created by renewables costs two, or three, or four real jobs in the real economy — by driving up energy costs and depressing economic activity and growth elsewhere?

Hasn’t she noticed the backlash against wind, led in the Commons by the redoubtable Chris Heaton-Harris MP of Daventry?  Or heard George Osborne remark that you can’t save the planet by destroying the economy?  The tide, thank heaven, has turned against renewables.

But perhaps she knows these things, and has some good reason not to mention them?

In politics, we have a long tradition of “declaration of interests”.  If I must promote an industry in which I have a direct financial stake, I should at least make that clear — or better still, declare an interest and stand aside from that issue.  Not so, it seems with a dragon.  A quick glance at Deborah’s web-site shows that she has investments in EWS solar power.  So here we have a public figure, promoted by the BBC on prime-time television, using her connection with Friends of the Earth to persuade the public to lobby a government minister in favour of an industry in which she has a direct stake.  I think that’s a bad thing.

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11 Responses to Dragon fails to declare an interest

  1. I think it is a bad thing too.
    I can feel the tide turning as well.

    What I can’t feel, though, is anybody having the common sense to get shale gas going. What a country of wimps we have become! Just as the government (in my own case over Free Schools) can cancel things “with the stroke of a pen” it can go off in the wrong direction too (wind farms).

    If only it could be left to entrepreneurs as it was when we ruled the world!

    • rfhmep says:

      100% right, Mike. Shale gas is our get-out-of-jail card. I’m going shortly to the British Geological Survey for a briefing, and I plan to talk to a prospecting company.

      • Allow me to wish you the very best of luck. My son in law is in Saudi and he tells me, in the most matter of fact way, that he has been fracking for years. He was surprised, in fact, when I questioned him about safety.

  2. Maureen Gannon says:

    Mike you are talking of a time when as you call them entrepreneurs were good honest men, who were not bogged down with beaurocratic paper passing, or shallow politicos whose only interest is one of self. I agree with what both of what you have to say.

  3. US Oilman & Logistics GURU, T. Boone Pickens says –
    “I’ve Lost My A$$ in Wind Power”
    “The Jobs Are in the Oil and Gas Industry”
    Pickens continued, “You know that wind and solar
    are not going to move an eighteen-wheeler.”

    …. So much for Dragon Hilary’s logistics business then.

    Full story here…

    Whither now Hilary ?

    Friends of the Earth are NOT your friends.

    • Just to be clear, I was writing about Hilary Devey, the multi-millionaire CEO of a freight haulage firm, who is Meaden’s big rival in the TV Show Dragon’s Den. Devey says… “I would not say I’m ruthless at all – and never have been – but I’m quite capable of telling people what I think.” Would that Devey tell Meaden where to get off. Meaden’s business relies on road, and air transport also. Perhaps a short talk would be in order in a quiet room?

  4. Gail says:

    I just hope she doesn’t decide to stand for Paliament. We’re in enough mess as it is!

  5. James A. Hutchinson says:

    Roger ,
    On the lighter side ( forgive pun ) it’s obvious that when D.M the dragon breathes fire , the smoke gets in her eyes !

    Jim Hutchinson .

  6. Dr D King says:

    Why doesn’t she introduce investors to the merits of Thorium nuclear energy. Its being developed in USA Australia, China and India Fission releases heat energy converted to electricity, but there is no chance of a runaway reaction Dr D King

  7. Delya Wilkinson says:

    Poor souls. The roof now looks as dreadful as the windfarms are. What a strange place we are going to live in. Greed rules the world.

  8. Jilly Kibble says:

    Well said Roger – beams of commonsense shine the harsh light of reality on the green hogwash of up to the necks in it FoE.
    Just hope you are right on the winds of change bit. What about Pen y Cymoedd today cursed by DECC with 76 X 140metre plus monsters just to produce an average of 70MW electricity, a few temporary jobs and community bribes for unwilling residnts who were worn down by years of planning applications ? Oh, and I forgot a few pounds for non-UK Vattenfall as well The Welsh dragon is not amused !

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