We reap what we sow. Collective indecision on energy policy by successive governments over many years has led directly to the impending crisis now threatening to engulf us.
Over-reliance on green energy won't cut it according to Juliet Samuel, leaving us dangerously reliant on unreliable providers.
"More renewables might be able to help a bit, but because weather-generated power isn’t consistent, the grid cannot handle much more of it. To plug the gap, just as with our declining gas production, we will have to import more and more.
In practice, this means the UK is now reliant on sources of energy that are exempt from all of our green targets and whose price is entirely controlled by Vladimir Putin."
There are only two realistic alternative sources of energy which can plug the gap but this will involve a reversal of our current energy policy:
"If the Government gave up its ahistorical insistence that nuclear plants rely on “private” financing (which in effect means partial foreign state funding) and if it committed to a consistent plan for a dozen new plants, costs would soon start dropping through the floor. This is exactly what has happened in countries that have run their nuclear programmes well, like South Korea. The first time you build a plant with a new reactor design is always the most expensive. The sixth time, everyone knows what they are doing.
Unfortunately, even in a best-case scenario, we won’t be able to get nuclear capacity back to its peak for another decade. To build it up to what’s really required will take even longer. The Government is pinning its hopes on a series of mini Rolls-Royce reactors still in development, but the earliest one won’t start operating before 2030. We are facing a decade of crippling energy crises and this is a mess entirely of our own making.
Unlike in most situations, there is a relatively quick fix. We are still sitting on more than a decade’s worth of gas supplies in one form or another. Our shale and remaining undersea resources are like a gift from a fairy godmother. We could start granting permissions tomorrow and within a few years get the gas flowing to plug the gap until the new nuclear plants can take over.
Such a plan wouldn’t even have an environmental downside. If we don’t produce our own gas, we will simply import gas from elsewhere or use electricity generated by others, some of which will involve burning coal. Yet in an act of almost unparalleled stupidity, we have designed our regulations to incentivise precisely the opposite."
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