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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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HomeClimate WatchThe climate scaremongers: Blackouts in 2030 or 2035? Vote now!

The climate scaremongers: Blackouts in 2030 or 2035? Vote now!

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TALK about pots and kettles! This week our Energy Secretary warned the public that Labour’s plan to decarbonise our electricity system by 2030 would risk blackouts. She still does not seem to realise that her Government’s pledge to decarbonise by 2035 will do exactly the same, the only difference being five years later.

As well as their largely unfunded Great British Energy company revealed in last week’s column, Labour also want to waste billions more on Net Zero nonsense. Although their manifesto has not been published as of writing, their website includes details of their Green Plan, which they say will cost £23.7billion over five years, a figure that includes Great British Energy.

This money will be wasted on upgrading ports to make them ‘renewable ready’, green hydrogen projects, ‘transitioning’ the steel industry, carbon capture schemes and subsidising battery gigafactories.

None of this expenditure will benefit the public. The transitioning of the steel industry will mean making it use hydrogen instead of fossil fuels. As hydrogen is so much dearer to produce, whatever is left of our steel industry won’t be able to compete with international competitors, which will carry on using much cheaper coal and gas.

In addition to this taxpayer largesse, the mass rollout of wind and solar power proposed in the plan will add £13billion a year to energy bills because they will still have to be heavily subsidised.

Nowhere in Labour’s plan is there any explanation of what will happen when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine once Ed Miliband has succeeded in shutting down all our coal and gas power stations.

While Labour will ban all new North Sea gas and oil developments, and do its best to shut the rest down with its proposed windfall tax increase, New Zealand has just announced it will revoke its ban on drilling. The reason? Fear of blackouts!

Hallelujah! Net Zero chief admits it can’t work

YOU MAY recall my recent exchange of letters with Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho

It began with my open letter to her in February, which was forwarded to her by one of her constituents. (The public are allowed to contact only their own MP on Parliamentary matters).

She replied in May, which triggered another response from us. The full exchange was covered on TCW, on May 10.

In short, we expressed our concern that plans to fully decarbonise the electricity sector by 2035 would leave us woefully short of dispatchable power which would be needed when the wind did not blow and the sun did not shine.

Nothing in her response to us appeared to address this problem, so we sent this letter in reply:

‘Many thanks for your reply concerning Net Zero policy.

‘I appreciate the Government has many ambitious low carbon plans for 2050, which you list. However, none appear to offer a solution to the catastrophic problems facing us during the 2030s.

‘To lay it out in simple terms, according to the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, peak demand for electricity will be about 100GW in 2035. We will probably have about 10GW of dispatchable capacity (nuclear, biomass and hydro) – this assumes that all unabated gas power is shut down.

‘Even with 20GW of interconnectors, which we most certainly cannot depend on, we will be woefully short of electricity when wind and solar power is at low levels.

‘You plan on 5GW of new unabated gas, but clearly this will be nowhere enough. We will likely need ten times as much. Building new gas power plants incorporating carbon capture may be a solution, but I see no plans to do so in the time scale we are looking at, ie the mid 2030s. In any event, carbon capture adds significantly to the cost of electricity, and increases the amount of gas needed to produce each unit of electricity. Are you happy to see energy bills rising as a consequence?

‘The other plans you mention are currently far too small to make any difference, and will certainly not be ready in any scale by 2035.

‘Low carbon hydrogen, for instance, will need tens of billions spending on a whole new infrastructure – electrolysers, distribution networks, seasonal storage and hydrogen burning power stations. The new batch of projects outlined will only supply about 0.1% of the UK’s annual gas consumption, and are not grid-scale solutions.

‘On top of that, there simply won’t be enough wind/solar power in your plans to produce the hydrogen anyway. And if that is not enough, the contract price you have agreed for the next batch of hydrogen projects is ten times that of natural gas. Are you prepared to see household energy bills rocket to pay for these subsidies?

‘Similarly tidal and geothermal are extremely expensive, and the 106MW currently procured is a tiny amount. While these technologies may bear fruit in thirty years’ time, we clearly cannot rely on them making any difference in the next decade.

‘You mention 35GW of battery storage, but typically such batteries can only store enough for an hour’s use. Plainly these will be useless when we go days on end with little wind power.

‘So there you have it! We are staring at a gigantic black hole in our potential electricity supply come 2035.

‘I can only see one solution – begin construction now on a fleet of new CCGT plants, if necessary made CCS-ready. (Bear in mind, CCS is still not a proven technology at scale). It will need to be at least 50GW. In addition the current fleet needs to be contracted for at least 15 years, to provide standby capacity.

‘Evidently this is not part of your government’s plans. In which case, could you please explain how your plans will avoid the blackouts which appear inevitable?’

To say I was astonished with the reply just received from her Department would be an understatement!

Everything we said was correct! It simply is not possible to shut down all coal and gas power stations and hope to rely on renewables. And now even the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero have been forced to admit the fact.

Indeed if they are right, we will need to double our existing gas power capacity, which currently stands at less than 30GW.

So why did not Claire Coutinho also admit this in her letter? Does she not understand how our energy sector works? Is she just spouting the propaganda fed to her by a small clique of advisers? Or does she know that she was talking nonsense, but did not dare admit that the Government’s decarbonisation plans are impossible to achieve?

Let’s be absolutely clear about the implications of the Castro letter. It drives a coach and horses through the Net Zero plans of both Tories and Labour.

It is no longer possible for either party to pretend that we can decarbonise our power grid in the timescales they propose. Neither will it be possible at all without massively expensive alternatives, such as carbon capture, hydrogen and energy storage.

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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