IT IS apparent that none of our major parties has a clue about how to tackle the ever-worsening energy crisis. Indeed, the policies of the government, Labour and Lib Dems are to all intents and purposes the same:
• Short-term handouts, which are totally unaffordable
• No plan to tackle the supply crisis
• Blind devotion to renewable energy
High energy prices for households are the most visible sign of the crisis, but the damage to industry could be far worse for the economy in the long run.
There is also the impact on the UK’s balance of payments – we import about 60 per cent of the natural gas we consume, and because of rising prices the annual import bill has risen from around £15billion last year to over £80billion at current prices. It is this which is most responsible for the current weakness of sterling.
It is therefore time to return for a closer look at the Emergency Energy Plan put forward by the Reform UK party.
The plan starts from the assumption that the current crisis is not going to quickly go away: it could last for years. As such it proposes a short-term pricing plan and a medium-term supply plan.
It lays out where we are starting from, which underlines just how fundamental our reliance on fossil fuels is:
And it reminds us just how much renewable energy is already costing us, a figure reckoned at £500 a year for every household.
According to Reform UK, the energy market is not fit for purpose following decades of failure by politicians and others. This cannot be solved overnight. These failures include over-reliance on imported electricity and gas, closure of fossil fuel power stations and lower UK gas production (down 43 per cent since 2010).
Reform say it is clear that we are now in a warlike situation. As such, the government must take control of UK energy production pricing. Under this arrangement UK energy producers would be obliged to sell to UK energy suppliers at the 2021 average price, or face nationalisation. This would allow the energy price cap to be reduced to £1,750 a year, and cap business prices as well. This arrangement would stay in place until normal market conditions return.
In the longer term we need to address the supply side, and the plan recommends:
• Exploiting our reserves of shale gas
• Accelerating oil and gas exploration in the North Sea
• Building a fleet of high efficiency combined-cycle power plant (CCGT) power stations
• Accelerating the roll out of small nuclear reactors
• No more subsidised renewables
• Scrapping windfall taxes on oil and gas, which discourage new investment.
In my view, the warlike analogy is correct. And in wartime, I suspect the government would be taking the same sort of action. Above all, of course, we now need to make the country’s energy security our top priority, instead of the Net Zero agenda.