Without power we’ll have poverty – choosing between heating or eating

This article was kindly published by Brexit Watch

With the announcement the British government is to cease importing Russian oil by the end of 2022 (but will continue to import Russian gas), so continues its muddled thinking around energy policy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought into sharp focus the importance of energy self-sufficiency, storage capacity and decoupling from wholesale market prices.

The campaign for a referendum on Net Zero is gathering pace.  

After Nigel Farage openly discussed the possibility on his nightly GB News programme a couple of weeks ago, a grass roots campaign, “Vote Power not Poverty” led by Farage, Richard Tice and Dominique Samuels has already garnered over 79,000 Twitter followers. Town hall events to present the case for a referendum are now being scheduled.

Accepting the premise of global warming and the need to avoid the Earth’s temperature overheating has become a settled issue for many – but not all. Ground source heat pumps, electric cars, hydrogen battery power are all prohibitively expensive for most outside of the Metropolitan elite.

COP26 was essentially a virtue signalling talking shop where hypocrisy on a massive scale pervaded. Billionaires and celebrities flying on private jets, emitting tons of CO2 along the way, to rub shoulders with and apply pressure to world leaders did little if anything to accelerate public support.

The UK government is keen to articulate its green credentials around the central metric of emitting less than 1% of global CO2. This is fallacious in all but name. By reducing domestic energy production to just over half of the country’s needs, instead relying on imported gas, oil and coal, we have simply displaced where the CO2 is emitted whilst conveniently ignoring the additional CO2 created through transportation. 

All of course against a backdrop of:

  • Soaring energy bills – 54% increase in the energy price cap (which is a socialist, anti-competitive construct) and likely to increase by a further 50% given soaring oil and gas prices on the wholesale market;
  • Rising inflation – 5.5% Consumer Price Index, 7.8% Retail Price Index;
  • Real terms wage cuts (3.4% growth) despite record GDP growth in 2021;
  • 1.25% increase in National Insurance from 1st April 2022;
  • Freezing of Personal Allowances from 1st April 2022;
  • Temporary abandonment of Pensions Triple Lock;
  • 5% VAT remains on domestic energy bills, despite a key Brexit pledge to remove it;
  • 25% renewables levy on domestic energy bills, generating £9Bn to support green energy providers;
  • A smaller economy than pre-pandemic – 9.4% reduction in 2020, 7.5% growth in 2021; and,
  • Stagflation already a reality as economic growth is expected to be 4.9% in 2022 with inflation expected to increase from above levels.

The numbers around imports of raw fuel materials also make grim reading:

  • 4.5M tons of coal imported when a new mine in Cumbria is desired by the majority of the local population and would not only create employment but also reduce production costs, eliminate cost of import and decouple from wholesale market prices. There is also huge volumes of easily accessible coal in Wales;
  • 10% of electricity is imported from France, who have used it as political leverage in the row over fishing licences;
  • 11.7M metric tons of oil imported from Norway alone despite years of reserves in the North Sea;
  • 1.4M metric tons of natural gas imported from Norway alone despite UK sitting on 100 years of reserves of natural gas in both the North Sea and through fracking (a large supply sitting below the surface in the Blackpool area, which over half the population support, given the £Bns of economic benefit and thousands of jobs it would create), which would substantially reduce energy costs.

The running down of both domestic energy production and strategic reserves of energy capacity will not be solved overnight. We can realistically expect energy bills to keep rising in years to come until wholesale energy prices (over which we have no control) stabilise, even assuming we pivot now to increasing domestic energy production.

Wind power is viewed as a key tenet of using clean, reliable, renewable energy ahead of fossil fuels. In 2021, wind had the capacity to provide up to 25% of the country’s energy needs. One problem: the wind did not blow at even a quarter of capacity, generating just 6% of the UK’s requirements with serious consequences.

There are just 3 coal fired power stations still operational in the UK (more than the government would like), without which with the wind stubbornly refusing to blow, the lights would have gone out several times in recent months.

The early closure of current nuclear power stations (and only one in Construction) means that nuclear will only provide a modest amount of our energy requirements for at least the next 10 years. Even if we began commissioning new nuclear plants to meet our requirements now, it would be the mid 2030s before capacity would meet current demand (not accounting for population growth).

Finally, Smart Meters, which were introduced under the cloak of transparency of energy use for the consumer, appear to be used to introduce surge pricing and even rationing of electricity. In a G7 economy. For those of a certain vintage, it has a feel of the three-day week under Ted Heath’s government in 1973 when power cuts became normalised.

So where do we go from here? More of the same will only lead to energy prices escalating throughout the decade.

The announcement of six new gas and oil licences in the North Sea is a small but potentially significant step forward. How much this is to do with a refined energy strategy and how much is sabre rattling between the neighbouring occupants of 10 and 11 Downing Street is open to interpretation.

Offering a £150 rebate on Council Tax bills for those in bands A to D, will be at least partially swallowed by increasing Council Tax bills. Offering a £200 loan that will have to be repaid over 4 years is “Buy Now Pay Later” in a society already overflowing with consumer debt is a further socialist measure that simply pours petrol on an already raging fire.

Both of these measures are this so-called Conservative government’s predictable response to support those most exposed to fuel poverty given their propensity to spend (and borrow, further fuelling the National Debt), in conflict with core conservative principles. 

I recommend the government urgently reconsiders its position. In the short term:

  • Remove 5% VAT on domestic energy bills;
  • Abolish the 25% green energy subsidy embedded in all energy bills;
  • Grant further licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea;
  • Urgently review the feasibility of opening a new coal mine in Cumbria;
  • Maintain the 3 remaining coal fired power stations in operation until there is no further need for them as a contingency source of energy;
  • Stop the early decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants and return them to production;
  • Remove the moratorium on fracking to deliver cheap gas, thousands of jobs and £bns of GDP in the Blackpool area in short order;
  • Review the feasibility of harnessing tidal wave power given its predictability up to 100 years hence;
  • Utilise new British nuclear technology from Rolls Royce and others through capital investment and R&D tax incentives to commission the construction of mini plants around the coastline to ensure we have safe, cost effective nuclear energy as a significant part of our energy mix by 2035.

Whilst implementing all of these measures would not entirely mitigate the increase in energy bills, in this and future years, it would make a meaningful difference and ensure the United Kingdom returns to self-sufficiency for energy sooner rather than later and would have the capacity to both build an energy reserve and become a net exporter of energy to help reduce the National Debt.

Unlike nebulous Net Zero virtue signalling, this strategy would command support from the majority of the British public.

© justchrisdavies 2022

Published by justchrisdavies

Happily married. Thatcherite Conservative, hawk, libertarian, meritocrat, patriot, free speech, free markets, abhor all identity politics, woke/cancel culture/Critical Race Theory. Privilege is not exclusively white. Proud of my country, and it’s history. Support our armed forces. Refuse to bow to revisionism. The Laffer Curve will set us free. Lower taxes = higher tax receipts @justchrisdavies on Twitter, GETTR and Parler. Support GBNews, Fellow of the Bow Group, Member of the Bruges Group.

2 thoughts on “Without power we’ll have poverty – choosing between heating or eating

  1. Thank you so much Chris. For the first time I actually understand the energy crisis, what harm is being done, and what can be done to alleviate the pain for years to come. Usually the problems are hidden in large words, Company names, tales of woe, and arguments about whose fault it is. This is a straightforward piece, broken down into understandable explanations and a piece that does not treat the reader as a dunce.Most of us are dreading the receipt of our first energy bills, since knowing that prices have been capped at a 54% and wondering why it is at that rate. Perhaps for another time , more explanation on pricing. People need to understand why the giants of the energy industry are making huge profits, yet still raising domestic prices to that huge margin, and why a windfall tax, suggested by several people or groups, is maybe not the answer ! Is their anything the Governments can do about the huge price increase? Are people aware that even if more Gas was drilled, the Giant Companies can still sell that Gas to others, doing nothing to alleviate our problems.. It just goes on. Once again thank you for such an eloquent piece, I how many more to come 🙂

    1. What a lovely message. It is fair to say that successive governments refusal to invest in nuclear and move away from energy production for nearly 1/2 our energy requirements so we could virtue signal about <1% of CO2 is what has got us to where we are. France is 78% nuclear: average bills are going up 5%. Which is below our rate of inflation, (CPI or RPI). I don’t favour a windfall tax. They are regressive. That is probably a blog or audio/video programme on its own! Thank you again for your very kind words. 👍🏻

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