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Monday, July 15, 2024
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HomeClimate WatchOn the renewable energy gravy train, only the subsidies keep flowing

On the renewable energy gravy train, only the subsidies keep flowing

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LUCKY New Zealand. In quitting the premiership, Jacinda Ardern made way for a politician who quickly revoked the ban on new oil and gas exploration she so trail-blazingly announced in 2018. NZ’s resources minister Shane Jones denounced as a disaster the ban, which had left 10,000 households unable to heat their homes and 40,000 cut off owing to unpaid bills, leaving the country unable to sustain secure energy during the winter.

In July last year the UK government announced that hundreds of new oil and gas licences would be granted in a move to back the North Sea oil and gas industry and make Britain more energy-independent. Already the UK’s gas consumption is 77billion cubic metres per year, of which 40 per cent goes into electricity generation while the remainder is burned in gas boilers in 25million homes. The 61million tonnes of oil consumed is used to power our 32million cars.

But later in the year, Grant Shapps – briefly at the helm of the Orwellian department known as ‘Energy Security and Net Zero’ – introduced an ‘energy security boost’,  in the form of a multi-million-pound government backing (that’s your money and mine) for renewables, intended to make Britain the first choice for the renewables sector’s gravy-train investors.

It would foster growth and jobs in green industries, and reduce exposure to volatile global prices, he said, especially in view of ‘Putin’s barbaric action against Ukraine’. Renewables just have to be the future, now that the Net Zero target has been incorporated into UK law. So funding amounting to £137million was allocated to solar and offshore wind power and ‘emerging technologies’.  

But, at a time when 75 per cent of total energy consumed is fossil-fuelled, 180 of the 280 active oil and gas fields in UK waters are due to shut down by 2030. No wonder Jenny Stanning, director of external affairs at Offshore Energies UK, has said we need to maintain new oil and gas exploration off our shores.

The UK may intend to lead the world in renewables, but you have to ask why other countries are no longer so interested in joining  this virtue-signalling competition. In recent EU elections, it was the Greens above all who lost out big time.

With the General Election nearly upon us, just how secure are government pledges about maintaining oil and gas exploration anyway? The Conservative manifesto confirms its promise to invest a further £1.1billion into the Green Industries Growth Accelerator, to support British manufacturing capabilities, boost supply chains and ensure our energy transition is made manageably and flexibly. The probability of this happening is, however, next to non-existent, given the dismal share of votes predicted for the Tories.  

So how does Labour’s energy manifesto compare, and how genuinely safe is the UK’s oil and gas procurement? Their flagship energy policy is the Green Prosperity Plan, where ‘in partnership with business through our National Wealth Fund, we will invest in the industries of the future’. This will create 650,000 jobs across the country by 2030. They will work with the private sector to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. Phew . . .

They intend to manage existing North Sea oil and gas in a way that does not jeopardise jobs, but no licences will be issued to explore new fields, no new coal licences, and fracking will be banned indefinitely. All these old technologies merely ‘accelerate the worsening climate crisis’.

Oh dear – a ban on new oil and gas would create a £4.5billion black hole in the public finances which would have to be filled by even higher taxes, according to the Energy Secretary. It would also threaten 200,000 highly skilled jobs, many of them in Scotland. So watch out UK – a Labour landslide is likely to mean our very own ‘Jacinda’ moment for Energy Security.

The fact is that, as New Zealand has learned, renewables cannot make up the oil and gas gap, even with heavy government subsidies. Yet without these subsidies, the renewables companies would be unlikely to participate in this charade. They must look on in amazement at the plethora of schemes dreamed up by Whitehall bureaucrats, all vying for investors and focusing on renewable heat, renewable electricity, energy efficiency and fuel poverty. 

It’s no joke for the UK consumer when domestic energy prices are some of the highest in Europe. The beneficiaries of this government largesse are start-up companies and the globalists behind them. Crown Estate Scotland’s recent leasing round involved two such schemes, involving floating wind farms. But how long will it take before they provide the ‘effective low-cost solution to help the UK tackle climate change and deliver long term renewable power’ that Flotation’s CEO Nicol Stephen promises? If ever . . .

The real irony is that these uneconomic ventures are designed to tackle non-existent man-made climate change anyway. ‘It’s absolute nonsense!’ says Ian Plimer, geologist and professor emeritus at the University of Melbourne. ‘Millions of years of climate change reflect the influence of many factors – it’s very complicated. But it’s the tiny proportion of man-made CO2 involved that these climate policies are based on.’

In his view they have little to do with the environment, but are ‘where unelected elites have seen a mechanism whereby they can make a huge amount of money. The only thing about renewable energy is that the subsidies are renewable.’

Another raid on the taxpayer’s wallet, in fact. The temptation for bureaucrats with little expertise in what is a highly complex, globally competitive, fast moving and often cut-throat sector to present their eco-political credentials without questioning their sustainability continues unchecked. Warnings going back to 2013, that the UK was getting poor value for money from its elaborate web of energy market subsidies, have been consistently ignored.

A TaxPayers’ Alliance investigation Council energy companies   of 13 local authorities which had invested in energy companies found that they lost more than £74million of council tax receipts in ill-conceived ventures. And the unavoidable reality of cold windless nights and a frequently sunless UK which make Net Zero impossible is simply ignored.

The question that all candidates should be asked in this upcoming election is who’s paying and for whose benefit? Why are taxpayers funding an eco-lobby sustainables gravy train which helps the balance sheets of the globalist corporations and the wallets of their cronies, while putting up consumers’ own energy bills? Economic vandalism at its worst in exchange for virtue-signalling at its finest just about sums it up.      

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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