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Christopher Booker: The UK’s Energy ‘Policy’ Is An Act Of National Suicide

Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

Britain is heading for the greatest self-inflicted political disaster in our history.

In years to come, last Wednesday’s speech by Amber Rudd on our energy policy may be looked back on as the moment when, more clearly than ever before, she confirmed that Britain is heading for the greatest self-inflicted political disaster in our history.

The Energy Secretary’s “main purpose” was to “make clear” that, over the next few years, the Government is determined to see the closing down of all those remaining coal-fired power stations that still supply a third of all the electricity we need (and easily the cheapest) to keep us functioning as an industrial nation.

This brings starkly nearer that long-predicted moment when we finally confront the catastrophic consequences of how, for more than a decade, successive governments have deliberately set out to “decarbonise” our electricity supply, by eliminating the fossil fuels that still provide nearly two thirds of our power – to rely on “carbon-free” renewables and nuclear energy.

To this end, they have, on one hand, forced us all to pour ever more billions of subsidies into renewables, while on the other piling easily the world’s highest “carbon taxes” on to coal and gas, to make those renewables somehow seem “competitive”.

At least the penny has finally dropped that weather-dependent wind and solar are hopelessly unreliable – which is why Ms Rudd recognised that, to provide reliable back-up for all those times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, we urgently need to subsidise a doubling of our gas-fired power plants.

But so far this just isn’t happening. To such a state of chaos and uncertainty has the Government’s hostility to fossil fuels reduced our electricity market that our largely foreign-owned supply companies are simply not stepping forward to build the new gas plants Ms Rudd dreams of. Only one, near Manchester, is still under construction. Plans for any more are firmly on hold.

In a new study for the Centre for Policy Studies, energy analyst Tony Lodge predicts that, with the closure of three more major coal-fired power stations early next year, we could by next winter be facing that critical moment when any surplus of reliably available electricity over predicted demand finally disappears.

The long-predicted crunch will at last have come. Beyond that will be nothing but a great black hole. And, for all those thousands of diesel generators under contract at colossal expense to provide emergency back-up, there will be nothing the Government can do to fill the gap.

We cannot be reminded too often that this will not be just a repeat of those “three-day weeks” of the Heath era.

From cash points and shop tills to our entire transport system, our computerised economy is now so wholly dependent on electricity that without it, as the windmills fail to turn on windless winter days, the nation will grind to a halt.

Nothing better underlines the total insanity of all this than Ms Rudd’s claim that we are doing it to “to set an example to the rest of the world”.

She seems wholly oblivious to the fact that, with the approach of that Paris climate conference, both China and India have announced that, over the next 15 years, they plan to double and triple their CO2 emissions by building hundreds more coal-fired power stations. They each plan to add more CO2 every year than the mere 1.2 per cent of global man-made CO2 emitted by Britain.

Ms Rudd may wish us to take pride in committing national suicide, “to set an example to the rest of the world”. But the rest of the world is not taking a blind bit of notice.

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