The slow-motion train crash of Britain’s energy policy gets nearer to the abyss with every week that passes.
Consider a few facts. On the windless afternoon of February 25, the contribution being made to keeping our lights on by our 6,600 absurdly subsidised wind turbines was less than 0.4 per cent – four-thousandths of all the electricity we were using. Nine per cent was coming from abroad, 37 per cent from gas and 26 per cent from coal.
But our 11 coal-fired power stations are now vanishing so fast by 2019 only one may survive. Due to the government’s drive to “decarbonise” our entire electricity supply by 2030 – to rely on “renewables” and (non-existent) nuclear – our remaining gas-fired plants may well follow, thanks not least to our crippling “carbon tax” on fossil fuels.
So grotesquely is the government distorting the electricity market, that by 2020, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the cost of “environmental levies” will have more than quadrupled, from £3.1 billion in 2014/15 to £13.6 billion.
But now things have got worse. Amber Rudd’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) realises that, to keep the lights on, we badly need new back-up for all those times when “renewables” (or “unreliables”, as I call them) can’t contribute a bean. But the industry is so aware that Decc wants to drive fossil fuels out of business that plans to build any new gas plants have dried up.
So last week Decc was offering to bribe them into building new plants with yet another subsidy, which for a single 2 gigawatt power station might amount to £80 million a year. If the industry responds, this and other costs not included in the OBR’s figures would make its estimated quadrupling of “climate levies” by 2020 look seriously understated.