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Christopher Booker: Britain’s Crazy Eco-Zealots Want To Ban Gas Cookers

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Christopher Booker, Daily Mail

As many as 14 million households slid their turkey into a gas oven yesterday, then waited for a succulent, browned and delicious meal to emerge. But such a familiar festive scene will be a thing of the past just a few years down the line, if the Government has its way.

As for turning up the thermostat to ensure our gas boiler keeps our home snug and warm on a chilly festive morning — that simple action too, is under threat, even though some 90 per cent of all homes in Britain are heated by gas.

This familiar festive scene - of sliding a turkey into a gas oven - will soon be a thing of the past just a few years down the line, if the Government has its way 

Householders across the country will be horrified to learn that, over the next decade or two, the Government plans to phase out all our gas-fired cookers and heating systems —forcing us to replace them at a cost of untold billions.

Official documents reveal the Government is seriously contemplating that, within 25 years or so, gas will be all but banned — along with petrol and diesel.

The intention is that not only our cooking and heating but much else, including our cars and most of the vehicles on Britain’s roads, will have to be powered by electricity.

The Government admits this astonishingly ambitious plan will be the most far-reaching energy revolution since electricity itself was discovered.

But it is not being planned because our gas and oil supplies will have run out — or even because of any looming shortage.

On the contrary, the world is now facing a glut of gas and oil, thanks in part to the ‘shale gas revolution’ led by the U.S., a country which almost overnight, has become the world’s largest natural gas producer as a result of a process called fracking — where water and sand are fired at high pressure into shale rock to release the oil and gas inside.

This has led to plummeting prices, and prompted many industries to switch to gas.

Yet our own rulers want to abandon it. Astonishingly, the plan to change the way we cook our food and heat our homes is being instigated by the Government as the only way by which we can meet a statutory requirement under the Climate Change Act.

This particular piece of legislative folly was pushed through Parliament six years ago by Ed Miliband, as our first ever Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and decreed that Britain must cut its emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels by a staggering 80 per cent within 35 years.

When this Act passed almost unanimously through Parliament in 2008, not a single MP, let alone Mr Miliband, had the faintest idea how we could actually meet such an improbable target.

This landed officials of the Department of Energy and Climate Change with the virtually impossible task of working out how we could meet our legal obligation — short of closing down virtually all our fossil-fuel-dependent economy.

What they came up with was set out in a 244-page document entitled ‘2050 Pathways Analysis’, which explains how they imagine we might achieve what they call the ‘de-carbonisation’ of Britain.

This astonishing paper, which must rank as the most incredible ever produced by a British government, envisages a future in which, within five years, we shall be seriously embarking on a wholesale switch from gas, coal and other fossil fuels to far greater dependence on electricity.

The paper insists that, by 2040, we will have more than doubled our already fragile electricity supply.

And this is to be done, firstly, by a massive expansion of ‘renewable energy’, notably by building tens of thousands more giant wind turbines.

Secondly, the Energy Department says that we can build a new generation of up to 30 or more ‘zero-carbon’ nuclear reactors.

And finally, as a back-up measure — because, with such reliance on wind turbines, there will be days when there is no wind and they don’t work — some electricity can be produced from new gas or coal-fired power stations.

The problem is that such gas and coal power stations can only be constructed if they are fitted — at vast expense — with what is called ‘carbon capture and storage’, enabling all their CO2 emissions to be piped away and buried in holes under the North Sea.

If this sounds like the figment of some fevered imagination, I can assure you that it’s not.

Let me quote one passage from the Department of Energy’s report: ‘Demand for electricity,’ it tells us, ‘would double by 2050 as a result of electrification of much of industry, heating and transport. Decarbonisation would mean that all of the UK’s electricity would come from low carbon sources by the 2040s.’

This would firstly be achieved, it continues, ‘by making significant use of the UK’s wind resource’. An indication of what ‘significant’ means in this context is to be found in another Department of Energy document, which suggests it plans to build up to 20,000 wind turbines on land, and up to 40,000 more offshore.

The department also assumes that we can build ‘new nuclear plants at a rate of 1.2 gigawatts [the equivalent of one large gas-fired power station] a year’, and that carbon capture schemes can be ‘rolled out at a rate of 1.5GW a year after 2030’.

The most obvious point to emerge from all this is that, in practice, not one single ambition in the paper is practically achievable.

We have so far built only 5,500 wind turbines, so there is virtually no possibility Britain could build another 50,000 by 2040, at a cost of more than £500 billion.

We are already unlikely to get even one new nuclear plant by the middle of the next decade.

Yet in order to produce others at the rate the Government wants, we would have to build 30 or more of them by 2040 — again at a cost of hundreds of billions of pounds. It is also unthinkable that we could all switch to inefficient and ludicrously expensive electric vehicles within the timescale of this plan.

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