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« Quote of the day | Main | No let-up for the Met Office »

Another devastating indictment of energy policy

The FT's Nick Butler has added to the chorus of condemnation of government energy policy. His article is almost as good as the Liberum Capital briefing last week, and suggests that the whole policy is close to collapse:

The problems facing the Government’s plan to reform the UK’s electricity market go well beyond the departure of two of the limited number of civil servants who actually understand the proposals. The reality is that the Government is losing its appetite for a scheme which is liable to disintegrate under the weight of its own complexity...

The real problem is that the plans freeze the system in aspic at a time when the market and new technology are producing dramatic changes. The prices (we are not allowed to call them subsidies) represent corporate welfare on a very big scale – a transfer of wealth from consumers to suppliers which means that those who win the lobbying battle will be celebrating for decades to come.

With the roll-call of ministers responsible for DECC including Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey, that the policy should by turns be corrupt, incompetent, and risible is hardly surprising. Its collapse cannot come a moment too soon. Nevertheless, it's hard to see the coalition (or indeed HM Opposition) being able to pull a more coherent alternative out of the bag: they have painted themselves into a corner with their green rhetoric.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (26)

Read the whole thing.
You payin'? FT's paywalled, remember.

May 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I got it for nowt.

May 9, 2013 at 6:34 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I got my generator, an oil tank, gas cylinders and a mountain of logs. All I need is a good supply of food and water.

May 9, 2013 at 6:47 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

May 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Mike Jackson

FT Blogs are free - just register.

May 9, 2013 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

My mistake. I didn't read the small print. Obviously blogs are free and it's just the paper you pay for.
I'll have another try!
But on the main point ... while it's encouraging to see that the MSM are at least starting to wonder if they've been caught with their pants down this particular VLCC has so much way on that stopping it will take a lot of effort and a lot of time.
I don't think there is anything short of refusing to close any more power stations that can prevent the lights going out.

May 9, 2013 at 6:53 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Oh, please, please, please. Let it all collapse. Let it disintegrate. Let it implode. The Climate Change Act (prop, Milliband, E) was almost the last act of the Brown's dinosaur government, as it staggered and lurched to extinction.

Its hideous legacy remains properly toxic, however.

Forget grinning Dave's 'greenest ever government', though pass the sick-bag while you do so, we are at last seeing a recognition, however belated, that the self-congratulatory lunatics on the bridge had been been steering what just about still passed for Britain's ship of state directly towards a massive cliff, all the while congratulating themselves on their foresight and cheered on by those raking in everyone else's money on gargantuan scales.

Let the lunacy end!

May 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

There were about 9 energy ministers before Miliband who are equally culpable. None of them had a clue what they were doing and allowed nuclear to die a death and made renewables the future of a disastrous energy policy.

May 9, 2013 at 7:04 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Has ANY energy minister in the last 15 years had a clue?
Are they deliberately selected for congenital stupidity?
Yes most went to Oxford and did PPE.- Perhaps the best commonsense destroyer known to Man.

May 9, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Channel 4 news at 7 tonight is dedicated to climate change. Hold onto your hats for propaganda extraordinaire.

May 9, 2013 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Today my work took me on a journey from Hull to Birmingham and back. There are several more wind farms than there were the last time that I made this trip about six months ago. Some are obviously under construction, half finished turbines with cranes in attendance. A stiff breeze blowing today, so why are there so many of the things not turning? The ones that have only just been put up and are not yet being used I can understand, but why are so many of the older ones standing idle?

My car has now done nearly a hundred thousand miles. It has had no maintenance apart from what is required to pass its MOT* plus an annual oil change. In all this time, it has broken down just once when it failed to start in my driveway and I had to commute on my motorbike.

For those not from the UK, the MOT is a yearly roadworthyness test that all vehicles that are over three years old are subject to.

May 9, 2013 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Let the lunacy end!
May 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM Agouts

Sorry to break this to you but it is simply not going to go away. It has infiltrated so many power centres (to the advantage of their denizens), there are so many indoctrinated schoolteachers and schoolkids, so many functionaries that depend on the perpeturation of the myth, that it has attained the property of self-regeneration. Nothing short of one or more major calamities can harm its existence.

May 9, 2013 at 8:24 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Yes, a powerful article. But it's unfortunate that Nick Butler feel obliged to say -

"And we clearly need to reduce emissions."

Why? What's so clear about it? UK emissions are less than 1.7% of the global total. Apart from Europe and Australia, practically no one else is concerned - China alone increases its emissions each year by more than our total. Any UK reduction would be wholly irrelevant.

Far from being needed, the agony, absurdity, damage and potential disaster we're inflicting on ourselves is pointless.

May 9, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Good letter to Dave C. in the comments. The poor chap thinks he is getting a personal reply.
If Cameron reads it, it might give him pause for thought. Fat chance.

May 9, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

> Channel 4 news at 7 tonight is dedicated to climate change.

Channel 4 is another "public service" channel funded by the license fee.

It is also subject to the FOIA (just in case anybody wants to ask them any questions).

May 9, 2013 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

PS to the above: I suspect the answer to my question (above) is probably that Nick Butler is obliged to follow an editorial line. Groan.

May 9, 2013 at 9:01 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Whilst Yeo & Gummer still subsist on conflict-of-interest directorships, energy-reality will struggle to get a fair hearing in either of our Westminster Talking Shops.

May 9, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Go Joe.
Whatever happened to Hislop?

May 9, 2013 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

@May 9, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Robin Guenier

According to the government, cutting emissions is important in providing moral leadership to those backward heathen who don't even have proper toilets, as to the dangers of CO2.

As Peter Lilley brilliantly pointed out, the idea that the Chinese leadership listens to HMG is an amusing leftover of Empire.

Take the opening words of the report:“China is central to global efforts to tackle climate change”— true, but it continues, and I ask Members to savour these words— “and should be at the heart of HMG’s climate change mitigation strategy.” Savour those words again Mr Chairman "China ... Should be at the heart of Her Majesty's Government's climate change mitigation strategy".

What imperialist arrogance! What delusions of grandeur! to imagine that the United Kingdom, a nation of 65 million people off the coast of Europe, could somehow direct, guide or in any substantive way influence the policies of the largest nation in the world, with 1.3 billion people, on the other side of the globe.

May 10, 2013 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Hislop went over to the other side a long time ago because he wanted to be cool and down with the kids, something that never bothered him when he was younger.
BTW Bish, it is a bit unfair to name the politicians and the faults in that order - for Miliband, Huhne and Davey it needs to be incompetent, corrupt and risible rather than corrupt, incompetent and risible by turns.

May 10, 2013 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Slightly off topic, but not really. The GWPF points me to this:-
in which our beloved future King says:-

“Politicians must have "the courage to face down a storm of opposition from all sides", he added, describing those who questioned the need to act as "the incorporated society of syndicated sceptics and the International Association of Corporate lobbyists" “

I think he should be asked to reveal his evidence for this droll comment.

And to also say how many hundreds of Millions he personally stands to gain from the Crown Estates from the offshore wind scam? Not to mention all his other property holdings in the Duchy of Cornwall etc.

I think, before he questions the motives of others, he should be a little more transparent about his own interests.

And there are few people in the world today who will be more enriched by Ruinable Energy than HRH Prince Chuckles.

May 10, 2013 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered Commentermartin brumby

So what DID transpire from Channel 4 news last night? After the opening scenes of Leftie Jon Snow wringing his hand in despair, I changed channels and found something else (not that there was much of interest, as usual), because I somehow knew I would get very irritated if I watched it.

May 10, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

Old Goat; I did the same, concerned that I would be guilty of TV abuse if I tried to watch it, or at least a severe bout of shouting at it!
Did anyone with a strong stomach manage to watch the whole thing? Was it worse than we thought?

May 10, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

CAGW is now both sustainable and renewable. They managed to scrape it out to 25 odd years so that the first generation of indoctrinated school children are now the teachers. The books have been written, the Universities infiltrated, the media bought and paid for, the propaganda refined and endlessly repeated. Karl Marx would be proud. We silly old terriers snapping at the heels of the new bourgeoisie are not going to make any difference. Only a catastrophic failure of economics, such as that which brought down the Berlin wall, or a war, will save us now. Stalin and Mao survived all the heel snappers, just as this current bunch of lunatics will. I don't foresee any substantial change in my lifetime happening.

Ivor Ward

May 10, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

We really have to start asking the fundamental questions now - and not give up until we get some sensible answer.
'We must reduce carbon emissions..'
WHY..? Carbon dioxide's effects as a greenhouse gas reduce logarithmically (see feature in Wattsupwiththat) - so we are never going to reach that mythical +2C.
'We must comply with the Climate Change Act...'
WHY..? What's going to happen if we don't..? Is the government going to fine itself..?
'We must lead the way on reducing emissions..'
WHY..? So that the rest of the world can take our industry and point and laugh as we disappear into the Greenies post-industrial era of living in yurts and powering ourselves with fairy breath and sunbeams..?
'We must initiate Carbon Capture and Storage...'
WHY..? For how long - for EVER..? Won't it cause earthquakes - or will these be NICE earthquakes - not NASTY ones that you occasionally get from fracking..? What happens if the geologists have missed a pinhole and it all leaks back into the atmosphere..? What happens if it gets into the aquifers and you get soda water coming out of your taps..?
WHY are we closing coal-fired power stations when throughout the rest of the world, 1300 are planned or being built - none with CCS..?
I could go on but I've got to lie down in a darkened room for a while...

May 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

"Channel 4 is another "public service" channel funded by the license fee."
May 9, 2013 at 8:59 PM | TerryS

Channel Four isn't funded by the license fee,

It is one of many outlets in the UK and elsewhere which spew out CAGW propaganda where there is no obvious financial benefit for doing so.

May 10, 2013 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Whatever happened to Hislop?... Hislop went over to the other side a long time ago...

Here we go again, random guff by people who haven't read the Eye in years. Go to your public library, look up 'Keeping The Lights On'/ Old Sparky' for the last several years.

May 11, 2013 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreenFinger

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