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It's gas

The news this morning is that the government seem to have plunked once and for all for a gas dominated future. The Energy Secretary Ed Davey has said this morning that we are going to need a lot of unabated gas fired generation.

They're not saying that they're abandoning renewables of course, but it seems clear that the shale gas revolution is indeed going be central to the UK's energy future.

A wildly expensive policy of promoting windfarms is going to be increasingly hard to justify.

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Reader Comments (62)

They have no other choice, in the short term, to keep the lights on.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeA

Well then, stand by for the wailing and gnashing of green teeth the length and breath of the nation and the immediate deployment of the new buzz phrase: dirty energy.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Hard to justify, maybe.

But you can bet the farm that it will continue. In fact that is precisely what was announced on the news last night. Throwing more money at wind as a sop to the LimpDims, in order to get agreement for more gas.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Oh!!!....Well why didn't they say so?...Oh well, just in case they don't mean it. Bohemian Subsidy....

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Talking of betting the farm...
Very proud to have predicted this in Farmers Weekly a few months ago.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Fenbeagle I love it.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The wailing has already started.

Green groups were last night furious that the “decarbonisation” target has been scrapped.
Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said Mr Osborne’s move “banged the final nail in the coffin of [David] Cameron’s pledge to lead the greenest government ever”.
(From the report in the Telegraph)

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If the BBC are already wailing about it, which they are, then it's a good policy choice in my opinion. BBC wailing should actually be used as a government metric about how effective and popular a policy is - the more the Frappuccino set wail, the better the policy.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

No end to the ramping up of energy bills

"Energy firms will be allowed to triple the amount of money they add to customers' bills to pay for renewable power, nuclear and other environmental measures, under plans to be announced by the government next week. The deal over a new energy bill, struck after weeks of sometimes bitter negotiations between the coalition partners, will mean the total amount energy suppliers can add to domestic and business bills will rise from £2.35bn this year to nearly £10bn at the end of this decade. Adjusting for inflation that would be worth £7.6bn in today's prices, an increase of nearly three times. [The Guardian]"

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryan


Sadly, that is quite true.

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

I think you've completely interpreteded the story on this one Bishop. Bills will sky rocket and more and more windmills are set to be built. This is very, very bad news for all of us except for those like Tim Yeo.

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean O'Connor

When I glanced through my Google news aggregator I was surprised how many stories there were with headlines along the lines of this one:

Energy deal triples renewables subsidy by 2020

Not sure who is the winner, it looks to me that the concept of innovation is left by the wayside in preference for guaranteeing that rent seekers will have their troughs nicely filled for a while.

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

It has long been obvious that this was the only plausible outcome: Osborne gets his gas in exchange for the LibDems getting their windmills. Politically nothing else was possible: Osborne can't let the lights go out, but the LibDems have to be bought off somehow.

On the whole I suspect Osborne is happy with the outcome. It lets him buy time, which politicians always like. If he's lucky then interest in CAGW will wane, shale gas will be developed, money will pour in, and he can blame the waste on his LibDem colleagues. If it goes the other way he can argue that he always supported green policies, and that gas is just a useful stepping stone to an eventual 100% renewable future, being far greener than coal. The UK is still on track to be the world leader (among major economies) in green energy, but the danger of total disaster has been largely averted.

Of course it costs us a fortune, but when have politicians ever worried about spending our money to make themselves look good?

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

"It's gas" - Is it? The message this morning seems a bit confused to me - the Guardian headline is
"Energy deal means bills will rise to pay for green power"
and the Telegraph
"Wind farms to increase energy bills by £178 a year"
and the Beeb (Harrabin)
"Government delays setting carbon target until 2016".

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I wonder how much this is going to cost the NHS? Will they have to move funds from patient care? Or raise more taxes to cover the increased cost of energy?

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:36 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Davey actually said this morning that consumers would SAVE £94 per year by 2020, although I didn't hear how he arrived at that. Since my bill has already increased by over £100 because of the identified 'government obligations' in the breakdown, this seems extraordinarily unlikely...

Mind you, it's nice to hear the truth about green subsidies appearing on domestic bills finally getting some air, even on the BBC. It seems that particular cat is finally out of the bag, at least.

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

This is interesting. I have only ever seen yoofful yob rioting to have a good time & get themselves some eraly Christmas presents. I wonder what it will be like to see the real mass of the people up in whatever arms they can find or are allowed to possess (first rule of totalitarianism - disarm the people) when they cannot afford to pay to heat & light their homes, when they find out that these bastards are growing rich through taxpayers money being handed over to them on a plate, when they see the rich landowners earning hundreds of thousands of pounds every year off the taxpayer! Interesting indeed, one can live in hope!

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Trougher Yeo was on this morning, too, opining how more windmills would solve everything, although curiously, he didn't mention his investments... (the Beeb didn't think to ask, obviously)

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Miliband said he understood some people opposed onshore turbines and that sensitivity was required in siting them. "But onshore wind has to be part of the plan. You can't say no to everywhere. We have an urgent imperative to tackle climate change."

Something really has to be done about this. He is an intelligent man, and yet he does not seem to understand that any number of onshore or offshore wind turbines in the UK will have no effect whatsoever on climate change.

Even if the UK were to totally cease all emissions, this too would have no effect. And that is assuming that the rather alarmist predictions and sensititivity estimates of the IPCC are correct. We are a tiny proportion of total global emissions. We are too small an economy for anything we do to make any difference. What is this?

Somehow the basic elements of the IPCC view have failed to get through to our politicians. What they are proposing to do has no relation at all to the reason they give for doing it. Its like proposing to 'tackle heart disease' by persuading people to eat rice instead of bread. Or something equally irrelevant. Only this one is costing a bomb and is producing fuel poverty.

Crazy. Completely crazy.

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

Most stories have a slant depnding on political factors. This one seems to range from victory to Osborne to the resurgence of Clegg. I believe that the date 2016 is crucial, since this will obviously be the major battleground at the next UK general election. To the victor the spoils.

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

Ed Miliband has comitted Labour to a 2030 decarbonisation target. So we now have a clear choice; the chance of growing the UK economy or an economic basket case, courtesy of the Millipede and his green friends. I was seriously considering voting UKIP in 2015 but I don't think it's worth the risk of diluting the tory vote. Not when you see what's waiting in the wings.

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Y

Another cold winter and poor summer or two, a continuing flat-lining or even worse (for the politicians) decline in global temperatures and we'll really see political expediency & a dose of reality. "Call me Dave" will happily flip the bird at the Cleggs, they'll be a spent political force anyway.

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

This is a clever compromise for the tories (or maybe lucky, most politicians don't do clever). The tories argued for a potentially cheaper, "greener", practical fuel, gas; the libdems for a "greener still" fuel, the wind, complete with regressive tax and non-viability. We will get both now, it seems.

Come the election, this compromise will unravel into its component parts as the coalition unravels. One side will argue that they were responsible for measures which had the potential to lower bills, a potential already realised elsewhere. The other side will have to fess up to have argued for measures which have cost the voter dear.

All that's missing is for the Livingston and Penn prediction of no visible sunspots by 2015 to come about, currently on track I believe. The established correlation between sunspots and weather will lead to continued temperature stasis/falls beyond the reach of the best fiddlemeisters to explain. Expect awkward questions to be forcefully asked by the abused electorate.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Registered Commenterallchangenow

As has been stated for years, wind turbine noise is a big problem for onshore developments. ETSU-R-97 doesn't provide protection.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I just wish that some TV/Radio interviewer would have the balls to ask what they mean by 'carbon' and why they think it is necessary to spend billions reducing it - money that we could really use to do demonstrably good and useful things with elsewhere.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Having listened to Yeo this morning on R4 I still think that Wind is on the cards in a big way. All Yeo spouted about was Wind and Nuclear towards a zero carbon future. An impossible concept in reality.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM | michel: "We are too small an economy for anything we do to make any difference."

True. So why are we doing it? Well, Oliver Letwin (Cabinet Office Minister) provided the answer last year (link). Here’s an extract from what he said:

… this is an issue of moral leadership – we absolutely have to establish moral leadership on the issue of climate change …
Those of us who made the case at Copenhagen for a carbon cap now have a moral obligation to show that we are true to our word by delivering green changes in our own countries. Doing so will send a signal to more reluctant countries that we are serious, and will help build the conditions necessary to reach a global agreement to act.

To my mind such a policy is irresponsible, deluded, foolish, self-harming, arrogant, neo-colonial (the white man's burden?) nonsense. Surely our politicians can see this?

Er, no ... it would seem not.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Davey has no idea. His email, reproduced here a few days ago, just shows that he is completely ignorant of any mathematical concept let alone simple laws of physics. So any figure given by him is most likely to be 100% out and negative instead of positive so his £95 saving will cost you £190.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

The other side will have to fess up to have argued for measures which have cost the voter dear.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Registered Commenterallchangenow

Politicians don't do fessing up, as in election results where they've been kicked out by a landslide. They never communicated their successes properly, the other side indulged in dirty tricks, etc. It is a disappointing result for an excellent candidate who deserved to win.......

In this case, I predict - "A far-sighted and visionary energy policy with which we could have lead the world, has been dumped without being given a chance, for reasons of populism and political opportunism", or they just won't talk about it and concentrate on their successes. If there are no successes, they will talk about their new vision for a "fairer society", or whateveer, without going into any detail about what they mean by "fairer" or how much it will cost.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

To my mind such a policy is irresponsible, deluded, foolish, self-harming, arrogant, neo-colonial (the white man's burden?) nonsense. Surely our politicians can see this?

Er, no ... it would seem not.
Nov 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier


This business of "Britain leading the world", always in something expensive and self-defeating, e.g. the green energy nonsense and "Becoming an Aid Superpower", has a great deal to answer for. The other phrase is, "Having a seat at the top table".

I'd say it was largely a case of the political establishment still not being able to cope with the loss of empire.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

The purpose of global warming is to raise the price of fossil fuels. That is why Enron created carbon trading.

Europe's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is to set out the case for a unilateral 30% EU cut in CO2.

"It is too soon to kill off Kyoto. And the carbon markets can provide us with more finance for clean development if we can drive up the carbon price somehow.

Nov 23, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Enron officials later expressed elation at the results of the Kyoto conference. An internal memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would "do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States."

Nov 23, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Michel on Ed Milliband

'He is an intelligent man'

I thought he modelled himself on the Harry Enfield character Tim Tim Nice But Dim

Nov 23, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

We should counter the alarmist use of the phrase 'dirty energy' with the response: better than filthfully expensive energy.

Nov 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

And who would care for fatally expensive energy (except favoured producers of said energy)?

Nov 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

The Daily Mash have some fascinating insights into government energy policy:

Nov 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:40 AM | cosmic

In this case, I predict - "A far-sighted and visionary energy policy with which we could have lead the world, has been dumped without being given a chance, for reasons of populism and political opportunism"

Green claptrap is not a sustainable policy. The worm will turn.

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:12 PM | Registered Commenterallchangenow

It would appear that promotion to ministerial positions in all political parties now requires frontal lobotomy in the in the list of qualifications, ordinary MPs simply have to agree to have their eyes and ears stitched shut.
The next election will be something special I believe, the EU and Energy/Climate Change will be right up there as big issues for the first time so who to vote for?
Someone already pointed to the big dilemma for the pragmatic right, Tory to keep Labour out or UKIP? I hope people have the courage to vote UKIP.
The Tories were sold Cameron as a Blaire substitute but he is not even that. Cameron has learned how to lie quite well but Blaire's were well crafted lies and did not change from day to day. If we vote Cameron back in then we will still be in the EU at the following election plus we have no idea what colour he will want to paint the party next time.
Voting UKIP might well vote Labour in THIS TIME but a strong vote would put them in a great position for the following election.
If Dave had not had his frontal lobotomy he would see the sense in a deal with UKIP because it would ensure a right wing government.

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dropping commitment to a stupid emission target had to come with a crumb to throw to the greenies. Thus the increased levies to protect the greens investments in windmills, which is all they care about.

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The idiocy of the CACC-flingers opposing natural gas usage is their utter lack of understanding that low cost natural gas and power-generating fast-responding gas turbines are critical to making their sacred yet fickle renewables work in the power grid.

What a stupid cult this CACC is!

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

Dung: I am in 100% agreement with you!!!!

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Cheap energy is more important than carbon dioxide emissions. If green energy worked, it wouldn't cost more.

Green subsidies are going to kill people.

Maybe the thing to do is to buy Germany's nuclear reactors. They don't seem to want them any more.

Nov 23, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJit

The subsidy alone will be rising faster than salaries. Then you need to add the extra cost of gas, coal, nuclear and wood and people in the UK will see their electricity bills double again by 2020 and the loons think that is not good enough. OOOOh no they want you to be even poorer so you cannot consume.

Nov 23, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

A word of caution: Shale gas in the UK may not be viable. I really hope it is, but shale gas development in Poland has been a disaster- the shale is 'too tight to fracc' and only produces a tiny fraction of gas (less than 5%) compared to similar wells in the USA. Hopefully fraccing in the UK will be more successful, but until more wells are drilled and tested, it is too soon to say whether it is economically viable... (I have tested 100's of gas wells over the last 28 years)

Nov 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Cooper

Mr Bratby

Please put the bottle back in the drinks cabinet and calm down ^.^ You never agree with me therefore you have temporarily lost control of your senses!

Mark Cooper

We already know that shale in the UK is viable plus Poland is still keen to exploit its shale deposits.

Cuadrilla has drilled into and fracked the Bowland shale and they have given precise (conservative) estimates of the likely production. It is also the case that Cuadrilla fracked a well over 20 years ago (nr Blackpool) and it is still producing gas. They know better than the government and better than the British Geological Survey just exactly what they are sitting on.
Another fact that is not discussed much is that many other companies had licenses to extract hydrocarbons in the UK (which did and still does include shale gas). They have drilled into the shale formations and they know what is there. Once the government banned fracking however all this stopped.
The Bowland shale under Cuadrilla is the best shale deposit in the world by any measure and it extends beyond the Cuadrilla license. There is no reason to believe that adjoining areas will not be just as rich. One license holder just south of the Cuadrilla area has exactly the same shale formatiion beneath their "claim" and they have said that there is oil there. I have seen no figures for expected reserves of oil but that company does refer to it as the Motherlode ^.^

Nov 23, 2012 at 3:36 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Interesting. On Tuesday, on the R4 1pm news, Davey stated he had no means of reducing the price of natural gas. The only deduction from that that makes sense is that he doesn't know about shale gas.

Nov 23, 2012 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Jeremy Poynton

Given the IQ, qualifications and experience of the people on this blog I think it is possible that we could get together an extremely long list of things that Davey does not know about hehe

Nov 23, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Just thinking on from my post about shale; consider the fact that the Green Rivers shale formation in Wyoming USA contains more oil than all currently known oil reserves put together. Consider the fact that the Bowland shale formation is thicker than ALL the US shale formations added together, consider the fact that oil has already been discovered in the Bowland shale and then consider the fact that the UK government banned fracking for over a year (think it is still banned although due to be freed up). Now ask yourself if I was right to say that all government ministers have had a frontal lobotomy? ^.^

Nov 23, 2012 at 4:10 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The two other things for certain that Davey does not know about are energy and climate change.

Nov 23, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

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