BBC programme reveals that Tony Blair made “a multi-billion-pound gaffe” when he mistakenly signed up to a target that 20 per cent of Britain’s energy should come from renewable sources.
I would not have wished it on anyone to sit through last Monday’s laborious Panorama, entitled “Who’s Fuelling the Rise in Your Fuel Bills?”, but two things about it were remarkable. One was that it was the first BBC programme, as far as I know, to admit that electricity from wind turbines is “eye-wateringly more expensive” than that from conventional power stations. According to one estimate cited by Panorama, Chris Huhne’s wish for us to spend £200 billion on renewable energy in the next nine years could triple our electricity bills, pushing millions more households into “fuel poverty”.
The programme’s other startling feature was an interview with Sir David King, formerly Tony Blair’s chief scientific adviser. This confirmed that in March 2007, the prime minister had made “a multi-billion-pound gaffe” when he signed us up to the European Council’s historic commitment that, by 2020, the EU would derive 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. What Blair did not realise, as he and the EU’s political leaders argued “until two or three in the morning” without their technical advisers, was that “energy” includes many things, such as gas for heating, which cannot be derived from renewables.
A Treasury official explained to Panorama that they had worked out that Britain could not hope to generate more than 15 per cent of its electricity from renewables. But Blair recklessly signed up to a target which meant that 32 per cent of our electricity would have to come from renewables, which would be fantastically expensive were it even feasible. By the time King and Blair’s other advisers learnt what he had let us in for, it was too late.
The programme ended with the ineffable Mr Huhne assuring us that “the overall effect of government policy will be to lower bills”. Even the BBC was clearly not convinced.