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The Lib Dem energy policy document

Over the weekend the Liberal Democrats published a new policy paper on how they envisage the energy market developing the next time they are in government. The document gives the impression of having been put together by a spotty teenager and perhaps one with mild learning difficulties. It is at once scary, laughable, naive, daft and soft in the head.

From it, we learn that Liberal Democrats intend all kettles and cookers to come with two sets of heating elements:

Households can maximise the use of electricity by prioritising flexible, or semi-flexible, electricity demands according to urgency or by enabling non-time-sensitive equipment to switch on when power is available. High energy using appliances like cookers and kettles can be designed with two levels of heating elements to select, based on the best match to the power available.

There is also a demand that homes should be built to minimise the need for airconditioning.

In future, erratic weather may reduce the need for winter heating but should temperatures rise, there is an increased risk that the need for air conditioning will lead to a significant rise in summer energy use. Liberal Democrats would...Amend the Code for Sustainable Homes, BREEAM and other relevant standards to ensurethat new buildings are designed to minimise any need for air conditioning.

In truth, I've picked these last two examples almost at random. The whole paper is full of similarly fatuous thinking, a hodgepodge of buzzwords and hypothetical technological innovations flung together by people who would clearly struggle to run a whelk stall. There is not even the hint of an attempt to cost any of the policy proposals made, or to demonstrate that they represent a cost-effective solution to the purported problem of global warming. It's as though the Liberal Democrat team got round a table and googled frantically until they had a document of sufficient length to justify their existence.



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Reader Comments (100)

Good spot, thanks for this.

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke


Montford must have had a spy in our deliberations. Perhaps he was the guy dishing out the organic tofu drinks before we got onto the hard stuff?

Back to the drawing board.

1. We will pass legislation that there will be pixie dust and unicorns and fairies at the bottom of our garden. And a special incinerator to burn eco-friendly dragon shit

2. We will pass new legislation whereby God will be severely punished if the wind blows too much or too little,. We want it to be just right (The Goldilocks Bill)

3. We will burn all deniers (with due regard to smoke problems and only after a full environmental assessment


Aug 26, 2013 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterEd Davey

OMG! (OK...sorry about that, but sometimes words fail me)

That said, here's a question for the idiot with the kettle. If I have a 1kw element and it takes fives minutes to boil 1l of water, how long would it take a 500w element to do the same - and how many kWh is that?

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered Commentersnotrocket

"spotty teenager and perhaps one with mild learning difficulties."

Yes Ed Davey

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

UKIP is the only party with a realistic energy policy which will keep the lights on:

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

Not surprising, I suppose, bearing in mind the party promotes idiots like Davey and Huhne to the top. But what a worry when we realise that coalition governments might become the norm. And the LibDems might have a share of power for.years to come.

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Can somebody remind me exactly what all these contortions are for? The world refuses to warm up; nobody knows exactly how the atmosphere works but it certainly isn't the nice simple more CO2=more warming so beloved of the great unwashed.

Do not vote for these idiots or anyone else who refuses to observe and acknowledge what is going on around them.

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

5.3.1 There are several means of producing gas that has a lower carbon content than natural gas including gasification, pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion. Some of these gases can be used on site in industrial processes. Others can be exported to the gas network.

So they plan to produce methane that has less carbon than methane.

Aug 26, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

"So they plan to produce methane that has less carbon than methane."

That would be Hydrogen then ;-)!

I was very concerned about the report saying "power available", as though they accept shortages are inevitable.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

The sub heading says it all really: Transition to a Zero Carbon Britain. Bad luck on all those carbon based life forms.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

And we thought that your government could not be so stupid and corrupt to believe that windmills will work and ... they are.

Mind you, the french government has just announced that their carbon tax is not a supplepmentary tax. Noooo, of course not. It's a magic tax. It takes money from our citizens but it doesn't.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

At least they have noticed that biofuels are a financial and environmental catastrophe; presumably an apology for having supported them for decades is coming real soon.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

The chair of the working group was Neil Stockley.

In his blog he discusses an atricle by the CE of RSA (Mathew Taylor)

"Matthew Taylor’s criticisms of some green campaigners struck a chord with me. I agree with him that the “insurance frame” is a very useful way of neutralising “climate sceptics” or, more likely, engaging with “climate neutrals”.

It is amazing that some people do not seem capable of learning. Wow the "insurance frame"!

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Absolutely key point, Alex, not to be overlooked in the rest of the mess. Where are the grovelling apologies about biofuels?

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:14 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

They're revealed as fascists:
"4.2.5 Onshore wind, currently the cheapest renewable technology, could provide up to a fifth of UK electricity consumption. In public opinion surveys wind farms consistently attract support from around two-thirds of the public, but the 10 per cent or so who are consistently opposed are usually more vocal. Liberal Democrats would require onshore wind farms to help fund local energy efficiency measures, thus reducing householders’ energy bills. Liberal Democrats would support developers who seek punitive damages against councils who do not follow National Policy Guidelines in determining consents, for example, many (particularly Conservative) councils have adopted criteria (such as minimum separation distances from dwellings), in contravention of government planning policy."

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

The DECC is full of AGW believers so what do we expect, they are not going to employ non believers, that we be like a church full of atheists.
They don’t have to place costings against these mind boggling strategies as no manufacturer is going to make this stuff for the UK only.
They just don’t “get it” tunnel vision comes to mind with these lunatics, or is it they have not yet realized they don’t stand a cat in hells chance of being part of the next government.
Time to shut down the DECC and transfer its remit to Owen Patterson at the Dept of Environment.
Have replaced my smart meter with a home made one, so that they can't turn off my electricity when I'm asleep.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterArtmike

It all boils down o the same common factor: telling people how they should live their lives. In fairness, all poliical shades now suffer from this delusion.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

The Liberal Democrats may as well promise to give gold to every single UK resident and they still wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of ever being anywhere near power again. They are finished and they know it, from their betrayal of the student voters to their betrayal of all voters “A vote for Labour is a vote for the Tories”. They have essentially proven that they simply cannot keep their word, don’t get me wrong the Liberals, Tories and Labour are just as bad in fact they are so indistinguishable from each other voting for any of them seems like a vote for the same politicians with the same polices just a different colour of tie.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

"So they plan to produce methane that has less carbon than methane."

That would be Hydrogen then ;-)!

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

Perhaps they might like to dilute it with Nitrogen?

Actually, I probably shouldn't joke about it, because they might take the idea seriously. I used to vote for this party some years ago. I find this level of thinking very disturbing. Even the BBC could drive a coach and four through most of these ideas.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Not read the statement yet but this quote from the article seems quite sensible:

two levels of heating elements to select, based on the best match to the power available.

That is, it seems quite sensible if you assume that there are going to be frequent brownouts caused by intermittent, unreliable power generation.

At least the LibDems acknowledge what the policy of building windfarms actually means.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

Another gem on shale gas:
4.4.3 This is a very different approach to that advocated by the Chancellor, which would increase the UK’s reliance on gas, and particularly on unconventional sources, i.e. shale gas. In recent years shale gas production has transformed the energy market in the US, though at the cost of significant local environmental damage and pollution of water tables. However, UK geology is much less favourable than that of the US (the shale contains a much higher proportion of clay, rendering hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, techniques, much less viable), and, also unlike in the US, the benefits of production will accrue to the government, not to the land-owner – thus increasing the likelihood of local opposition. There is no realistic prospect, therefore, of a ‘shale gas revolution’ in the UK.

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Just think: Ed Davey probably played a prominent role in producing this!

Aug 26, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

The shale contains clay?

These people are ignorant dorks.

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Is there anyone in the LIbDems who has any technical expertise?

I see they welcome comments on the paper! We could give them a good comment on the best use that could be made for the paper.

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The paper illustrates stupidity on a galactic scale.

Sadly, there are too many political parties, learned institutions, green activists and MSM providers who are gullible enough to see merit in this sort of garbage, not to mention the justification for such misguided policies in the first place.

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

We currently emit some 500 million tons of CO2 out of a global total of something like 30+ billion.

So all these contortions are to knock off what? 100 million or so off that 30+ billion? And this is supposed to be in the cause of 'tackling global warming'?

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

It's surprising how little power can get you drunk, if you've not had any for a long time.

This is the movie scene that I think best describes the Liberals at the moment....

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

"The Liberal Democrat vision for a zero carbon Britain will deliver greener growth, free the country
from its dependence on fossil fuels and help save the world from the very gravest environmental

Who will save us from these fossilised fools?


Aug 26, 2013 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

I like the deadpan humour "next time they are in government".
Unfortunately it is not just the Lib Dems who come across as teenage greenpeace activists, as those following Lord Deben ontwitter have noticed.

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

M Courtney

"Two levels of heating elements .. sensible if you assume that there are going to be frequent brownouts caused by intermittent, unreliable power generation"

You won't need two elements if there are brownouts - the existing element will downrate itself!

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:58 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Given that the Establishment's real power is the *unequal* application of justice (and injustice), what are the odds that MP's and their multifarious hangers-on are excluded from this system of (climate) wartime rationing?

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterchippy


"Is there anyone in the LibDems who has any technical expertise?"

Would they be LibDems if they did..? :-)

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The Liberal Democrat vision for a zero carbon Britain will deliver greener growth ...
Good trick that, if you can do it.
I remember quite a few years ago in the days of the 'Peterborough' column in the Daily Telegraph when his tailpiece, usually a good one-liner, had a series of (alleged) graffiti added to Liberal meeting posters in Norfolk.
The posters were on the lines of "XX Village Hall, Tuesday 7.30, How the Liberal Party will ..." [fill in any policy you fancy].
The two graffiti I remember best were: 'Next Week: How to breed dodos for pleasure and profit' and 'Next Week: How to nail jelly to the ceiling'.
This particular aspect of environmental policy calls for something similar!

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Over the weekend the Liberal Democrats published a new policy paper on how they envisage the energy market developing the next time they are in government.

"next time they are in government"

Always presupposing that, someone or, anyone - even the cat would cast a vote for this jaundiced political crew ever again. In three very long years demonstrably they've proven that they are unfit to be let out - let alone govern a country - albeit in a coalition.

"Green growth and Green jobs" Green - can also mean 'wet behind the ears', jejune adolescent fantasies and this execrable excuse - emphasizes the point - it is Green all over.

Liberal Democrats’ policies to mitigate climate change lay the foundations for new technologies,new industries and new sources of jobs and prosperity. Moreover, investment in low carbon and environmental technologies will improve the UK’s energy security and resilience, reduce
dependence on imports of fossil fuels and protect consumers and businesses from oil and gas
price shocks. In the short term the investment needed to replace Britain’s ageing power stations
and to insulate its notoriously energy-inefficient homes and offices will help to revive the

blah, blah, blah.................

That word "investment" AGAIN - it was also Gordon Brown's favourite word - and Socialist weasel speak for TAXATION.

A minor politician of a yellow persuasion once said: "Go back to your constituencies, and prepare for government!"

Now adjusted to: go back to your constituencies and prepare to attend the job centre. [And not before time either.]

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"The use of gas (and coal) on a large scale after 2030 should be conditional upon it being fitted with effective carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology."


So we have just 17 years to

A) find a working CCS model - that currently doesn't exist


B) Close down most of our gas and coal power stations?

Which means we'd actually need several years advance notice of such decisions in order to replace non CCS fitted gas / coal plants with 'renewable' nuclear or wind - yet we cannot hope to build sufficient nuclear and wind capacity in the short timescale between notice of any decision and 2030!

So effectively not 17 years at all, then. Doesn't it take 15 years just to get one new nuclear power station online? How many wind farms could physically be built between now and 2030?

These people are hopelessly detached from rational thought. Quite possibly the most dangerously insane piece of policy ever advocated by 'serious' politicians.

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

"spotty teenager and perhaps one with mild learning difficulties"
"at once scary, laughable, naive, daft and soft in the head"

Do not these words of His Grace provide the very definition of Liberal Democracy and of Liberal Democrats?

I long ago came to the conclusion that 1. no LibDem has a mental age greater than 18 and 2. LibDems are not to be written off as just dotty, but rather that they should be recognised as being persons dangerous to the wellbeing of the country.

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCedric

The Lib Dems have been unelectable for as long as I have voted. I am 72.

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

The local primary school class could find 20 fundamental errors in the one phrase

"The Liberal Democrat vision for a zero carbon Britain will deliver greener growth, free the country from its dependence on fossil fuels and help save the world from the very gravest environmental

- "zero carbon" ..they mean zero CO2 ..then what's wrong with that ?
- save the world ..will it ?
- why not free the country from its dependence on water or food ?

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:31 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

yes..and think about cities like detroit, let s imagine that people invested money to build houses that can actually save energy..what if ..people just don't live there?

Insulate your home or invest for any other technology cost money...and it is a risk you have to take..
the lie is to pretend there is no risk at all..
you have to speculate about the climate, the price of energy, the "life expectancy "of the house on so on...

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterlemiere

When power is available?!!!, sorry I must have misread that, no it definitely says when power is available. Is this a final admission that wind and solar will only deliver intermittently, or are they saying that they will decide when we've used enough juice for the day?

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commentersunderlandsteve

My late father (grid control engineer, NOSHEB & then SSE) was once asked to play piano at a function for the Scottish Liberals party conference which took place in the spring; one of the tunes he played was "Here we go gathering nuts in May". None of them clicked.

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

"The Liberal Democrat vision for a zero carbon Britain will deliver greener growth"

Bummer! I was about to comment on the difficulty of any sort of 'green growth', horticultural or other, but I see Mike Jackson got there first.

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

Perhaps someone should survey the windmillists.

"Which 16 weeks of the year can you do without electricity?"

Then point out that it is actually random and could be more than 16 weeks.

Hmm. To verify the 16 weeks guesstimate, I thought I'd look at the Gridwatch data. Downloaded the wind data for the last year, calculated the time slot durations (they are about 5 minute samples) sorted by output power, then did a running total of the times. You can make a nice graph out of that, of the output power building up over 365 days.

If you make the time start at 1st January, you can produce these interesting figures. For example, output power has reached 500MW on February the 9th at 7:20PM.

power,days,time of year
Jan 03 01:49:42, 100
Jan 08 07:40:04, 200
Feb 09 19:20:31, 500
Apr 22 02:03:40, 1000 -- day 111.0894 ~15.87 weeks
Aug 07 06:25:32, 2000
Aug 26 12:02:25, 2193
Oct 23 21:58:17, 3000
Dec 05 11:12:41, 4000
Dec 28 20:34:37, 5000
Dec 31 23:55:08, 5304

I assume that anything less than 1GW is pretty pointless, especially when "installed capacity" is supposed to be more than 10 times that.

I ought to do this properly with graphs on my blog, but too busy.

Aug 26, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterReg. Blank

"You won't need two elements if there are brownouts - the existing element will downrate itself!"

jamesp: you've just invented the Smart Element! Brilliant

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

My friend is in the Lib-Dem party.

She constantly curses the 'goldilocks' wing of the party who feel that if a policy is not too hot nor too cold it must be just right.

She tells an interesting story about the Humber Bridge. Apparently the Labour party wanted to build the bridge - to unite the hard-working closely-knit community of Humbersiders, the Conservative party did not want to build the bridge - to save money, and the Liberal policy was a lovely sandal-wearing compromise to build a bridge half-way and keep everyone happy.

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Aug 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

We could give them a good comment on the best use that could be made for the paper.

Oh, don't do that. You'll end up with a serious infection.


It seems that none of these loons have encountered the law of diminishing returns.

And they would probably tell us that a 30W electric kettle would boil water in 100th of the time of a 3kW kettle. Imbecile.

But his grace's dry humour says it all.

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

"So they plan to produce methane that has less carbon than methane."

That would be Hydrogen then ;-)!

I was very concerned about the report saying "power available", as though they accept shortages are inevitable.


With lots of those hydrogen, wydrogeny thingies for every nasty wasty carbony thingy that I thcweam at until it goes away.....

Or is that somewhat scientifically simplistic of me?

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterjones

So, anyone worried about the cost of energy could switch their kettle on using the non-urgent heating element, set their alarm clock, go to bed, and wake up in the middle of the night hoping that the water will be at the right temperature to make a cup of tea.

It sounds like a sure-fire vote winner!

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Thank you, Capell - it just needs the right spin!

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Do the Lib Dems (or the Greens for that matter) have a policy on perpetual motion? Hooking up our generators to perpetual motion machines would solve all our energy problems and give us perpetual green growth.

Aug 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

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