Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Coming Energy Crisis

I've written before about the coming capacity crunch, the strong chance that between now and 2015 we will struggle and possibly fail to keep the lights on. Christopher Booker addresses the subject with force today in the Telegraph:

"After years of dereliction, when only a crash programme of measures could keep our lights on and our economy functioning, our policy has become so skewed by blinkered environmentalism and diktats from the EU that we are fast heading for the worst of all worlds - a near-total dependence on foreign sources of energy which will not only be astronomically expensive but which can in no way be guaranteed to supply all the electricity we need."

Read the rest of the article. If you want to learn more this article from John Constable is a good place to start, along with the REF's 2006 briefing in response to the energy review. EU Referendum and City Unslicker are also writing a lot on the issue.


Dave Cole said...

I know you are dubious about climate change, but given that it is generally accepted by the scientific community and, crucially, by the Government, I hope you will accept this point; it is valid from the point of view of energy security as well.

The jury is very much still out on the notions that are bandied around about decentralised energy production and so on, but it is clear that we need at least one more generation of power plants. Not building them sooner and not opting for nuclear means that we will be increasingly at the whim of the markets, dependent on gas for electricity (gas stations being the fastest to build and put into operation) and emitting carbon dioxide.

Given that coal is dirty and we can't dig it up quickly enough, that gas is dirty and we have to import it, that renewables are not yet fully mature and that the storage facilities we need to use those technologies are not in place, only nuclear offers a decent chance of keeping the lights on at a reasonable cost.

I think that last point is important - as I said, gas stations can be put up quickly, so the lights will stay on but prices will rise.


PS - Remember Aneurin Bevan's line? 'This country is an island built of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organisational genius could produce a shortage of both at the same time'.

Matthew Sinclair said...

I'm not sure what you're trying to convince me of Dave. That nuclear is a good idea? Sold.