THE main boiler house of Ferrybridge C was demolished last month. Built between 1962-8, it was a 2GW coal-fired power station in use until 2016. Its flattening is a timely reminder of Britain’s deluded energy policy.
As of writing on Monday morning, coal is providing about 3 per cent of the energy required by the National Grid. By contrast, in 2012, coal accounted for 43 per cent of energy produced in the United Kingdom.
Most of our old coal plants weren’t mothballed in case of future need. They were razed to the ground, thereby burning the bridges back to sanity. The prospect of demolishing them after the creation of a sustainable basis of power generation apparently never crossed ministers’ minds.
Gas is now the dominant fossil fuel. As of Monday morning, it accounts for 52.4 per cent of our energy needs. The slight problem in this is that its wholesale price has risen by 250 per cent since January.
It’s the perfect storm: a miserable spring ran down European gas stocks, the pandemic disrupted global output of gas, shipping is disrupted, and demand in Asia for LNG (liquefied natural gas) is through the roof.
And in another act of great foresight, British authorities decided to decimate our strategic gas storage facilities by closing the Rough facility off the Yorkshire coast, a site which formerly accounted for 70 per cent of the UK’s gas storage capacity.
But not to worry, we have all those wind turbines to pick up the slack, right? We might, if the wind were to blow. At time of writing, wind is supplying just 7.8 per cent of our energy needs, and solar another 5.6 per cent.
We have been reduced to something akin to the ancient tribes of Britannia, praying to the gods to change the weather in our favour. Perhaps a few offerings to the deities and the wind will pick up, allowing us to put the kettle on again.
After all, there aren’t many other options. Due to the noise of the eco-lobby, the government has long neglected nuclear. Hinkley Point C is under construction in Somerset (with the involvement of the Chi-coms, natch), but a large part of our nuclear power production facilities is due to go offline over the next decade or so.
Lacking self-sufficiency, we are forced to import both electricity and fossil fuels from overseas. A well-timed fire at a French interconnector has brought this external reliance into question.
Rocketing energy prices have forced two of the UK’s largest fertiliser plants to close. You need gas to make ammonia to make the fertiliser. Still, to the eco-nuts of loony-greendom, a dearth of crops might herald a few deaths here or there from starvation, which would be a useful step in reducing humanity’s carbon footprint.
Other UK industries will suffer too, with companies unable to remain competitive amid record-high energy prices.
Perhaps we will reach ‘net zero’ simply by de-industrialising our economy.
Some are blaming the Ruskis (when don’t they?) Russian supply of LNG to Europe has been restricted this year, worsening the situation. For those who perceive Russia as our greatest geopolitical foe, perhaps engineering an energy policy that is reliant upon their gas deliveries is not the brightest idea. That said, in 2020 only 12 per cent of our LNG imports came directly from Russia, although indirect imports mean that figure is likely higher.
Much easier to blame the Russians and set the narrative up in good time. Just remember: when the lights go off, it won’t be because of Vlad.
The idiocy of our ruling class is breathtaking. If we were able to convert their myopic imbecility into electrical power, our energy woes would vanish overnight. Instead, we are stuck with a cabal of eco-zealots who imagine that forcing the country into battery-powered cars, the energy for which is either supplied from our alleged greatest nemesis or doesn’t exist due to a lack of wind, is a policy in the national interest.
Still, they have managed to reduce our carbon output by shifting our manufacturing base to the Middle Kingdom and its happily mercantile Chi-com ruling class.
For our fatuous ruling class, it is victory after victory as they enrich and ennoble themselves while HMS Britannia starts to list under the weight of vast energy prices which will immiserate the nation.
Throw them overboard! We need new captains.