by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 22
September 2021
Debate
15:52

Sorry, the energy crisis has nothing to do with Brexit or hippies

Ideologues are projecting their own biases
by Peter Franklin

As natural gas prices rise to record levels, observers are beginning to worry about the possibility of shortages. The causes behind the energy crunch are multiple — ranging from supply problems in Russia to low levels of renewable output in the North Sea. 

Still, it’s an ill-wind that blows nobody any good. And there are two groups of ideologues for whom the energy crisis is a gift. 

First of all there are the anti-Brexiteers. As I’ve said before, there’s no problem that’s too global that some people won’t blame it on Britain leaving the EU. Just search for “Brexit” and “energy crisis” on Twitter and you’ll see the #FBPE crowd leaping to their usual conclusions. 

It’s nonsense, of course. Just look at this chart from The Economist showing gas prices in the UK, Europe and Asia rising in lockstep:

Source: The Economist

Serious commentators are well aware that this is not a Brexit issue — though neither Sky News nor the Financial Times can resist having a little dig. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political divide, the anti-greens are also exploiting the situation. We’re only in this mess because of our obsession with climate change, they say. For instance, here’s Simon Heffer in the Telegraph: 

Preening ourselves about our green credentials, and thus choosing not to exploit huge gas resources under our land and in our own waters, we have made Britain enormously vulnerable. We foolishly talk up our ability to be powered by renewables – a form of electricity generation that has yet to meet the rhetorical claims politicians make for it.
- Simon Heffer, Telegraph

Really? Has anyone responsible for energy policy in this country claimed that we don’t need to back-up renewables with gas? Have they denied the variability of wind power in the way that many anti-greens deny the reality of climate change? 

No, the real revelation of this crunch is that fossil fuel supplies can’t be relied upon either. Most of these supplies are now imported. We can assume that they could be more reliable if we produced a greater proportion domestically.

Of course, our North Sea oil and gas reserves are depleted. As for onshore fracking, that fell foul of opposition from local campaigners who copied their tactics from the opponents of wind farms. Even if we were able to produce more oil and gas domestically, it would still feed into the European and global markets and would therefore be subject to the same market-driven price rises as we’re seeing at the moment. 

It’s the under-regulation of our energy sector that’s to blame for its current fragility. It wasn’t environmentalism that created an over-optimised, ‘just-in-time’ energy system with too little gas-storage capacity and too many vulnerable companies, but rather a short-term focus on maximising profits. 

But why face up to that inconvenient truth when you can blame the hippies instead?

Join the discussion


  • “As for onshore fracking, that fell foul of opposition from local campaigners who copied their tactics from the opponents of wind farms”
    While I admit to have no clue about their respective tactics, the comparison seems ridiculous considering Wind farms have grown spectacularly, despite high subsidy levels, and questions on utility, cost and potential environment impact….. while fracking is dead in the water.
    Which suggests that a. the tactics are not the same at all b. Fracking opponents were more devious and unprincipled at using smear tactics and lies to get fracking banned

    “Has anyone responsible for energy policy in this country claimed that we don’t need to back-up renewables with gas? Have they denied the variability of wind power in the way that many anti-greens deny the reality of climate change? “
    Do you think we are stupid? The entire argument of the Greens, and their supporters including Prince and Princess Nut nut, is that we are supposed to live in a fossil fuel free future, somehow relying on wind power and “renewables” such as wood fired plants (which are so not more polluting than coal), while ignoring the variability of Wind / Solar, refusing to use Nuclear as a back up, etc

    And no, unlike you enlightened souls, anti-greens don’t “deny the reality of climate change”, theymerely point out severe issues in the modelling, fear mongering about potential impact and downright lying such as the hockey stick, the suppression of sceptics voices and ignoring both negative impacts of Green polices and the negligible benefit of destroying the UK economy while China continues to built Thermal.

    “No, the real revelation of this crunch is that fossil fuel supplies can’t be relied upon either. Most of these supplies are now imported.”
    Because of the Greens and their obsession against nuclear, fracking and coal, we have a ridiculous situation where Europe is relying on cutting trees to substitute for coal and importing Gas for plants while reducing Nuclear. 

  • Call me old fashioned but why isn’t anyone talking about reducing our demand? The requirement for renewables to satisfy our increasing demands is nonsensical. Why are so many lights left on all night, including big neon shop signs which are no more than advertisements for cheap plastic tat from China that we don’t need? Why are M&S complaining about export markets for chilled sandwiches? Why is increased food and energy self sufficiency not a policy? And though I’m no fan of the Insulate protestors, they have a point. Why not also make it a requirement for all new builds to be built as passive houses with excellent insulation, as standard? Solar panels? Grey water recycling? How many fewer lorry drivers would be needed if supply chains weren’t crisscrossing across the country instead of local? David Icke once made the excellent observation that fruit grown on the IOW was transported to some central processing plant in the Midlands, then brought back to the IOW, markedly less fresh, with the cost of pollution, congestion and road damage borne by the taxpayer not the supermarkets. Our whole system is nuts because profit growth is still the only mantra. Virtue signalling corporates make big shows of their wokeness and green credentials but it will never made a dent because their shareholder returns are the only thing they are really measured on.

  • Agreed – compounded by a failure to gather and examine the data needed to fully anticipate what will happen in the inter-linked markets that the UK is dependent on. Everything in the current crisis could have been predicted and almost certainly was by many of the individuals most closely involved. The role of management is to bring that information together to get the requisite actions taken in good time and the role of government is to get the co-ordination that is required between the different organisations – to have the overall oversight that the players do not have and take the actions the individual players cannot.
    Governments can leave smoothly running markets alone but they do have to understand what is happening so that they are on top of the actions required when things change, not just running around blindfolded blaming everyone else and creating more problems with kneejerk reactions.

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