Richard North, 13/10/2013  
 

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Regular readers may get a sense of déjà vu reading the Booker column this week, with the story headlined: "It's showdown time for our insane green energy policy". Politicians, he writes, "are complaining about rises in fuel bills that are largely the result of their own actions".

Three events last week, all recorded on this blog, brought nearer the showdown that will have to come over the multiple green insanities that in recent years have hijacked Britain's energy policy. Although two left our excitable media and politicians largely at sea, few even noticed the insidious implications of the third event, which threatens to slam the door on the possibility that we could all be enjoying much cheaper gas and electricity for decades to come.

One event was the hysteria that erupted over that further eight percent price hike by SSE, which tried to explain that two-thirds of the 13 percent increase in its costs, making that price rise inevitable, were due to "green" taxes and the soaring cost of connecting new wind farms to the grid.

While SSE called for a curb on these green levies – such as the crazy "carbon tax", designed eventually to double the cost of electricity from fossil fuels, which still supply 70 percent of our needs – the only official response was a fatuous call from our energy minister, Michael Fallon, for consumers to boycott SSE. Mr Fallon was oblivious to the fact that his Government's policies will soon force all other energy companies to follow suit.

Before that we also had those hysterical predictions that this winter we could face serious power cuts (as one paper's front page had it, "the winter of blackouts"). This followed a warning from National Grid that, thanks to the closure of several large power stations under EU anti-pollution laws, the safety reserve of our power supplies has shrunk to two gigawatts, its lowest margin for years.

What the BBC and everyone else seemed to miss was the small print in which National Grid insisted that the lights wouldn't be going out, because it now has "the tools" to cover any shortfall. One reason for its confidence was the story of how National Grid has been quietly signing up thousands of diesel generators, linked by computers to the grid, which can be automatically switched on at a moment's notice to cover for any power shortage.

And their main purpose, although National Grid tries to deny it, is to make up for the unreliability of that ever-increasing number of heavily subsidised wind farms the Government wants to see built, in its efforts to "de-carbonise" our electricity supply.

Although National Grid may try to keep quiet about it, the companies piling in to sign up for this scheme – attracted by the colossal sums it is offering to build up its "Short Term Operating Reserve" – make no secret on their websites and planning applications of the fact that it is designed to cover for the disastrous intermittencies of wind power.

Even National Grid admits that, within six years, it hopes to have expanded its emergency reserve from 3.5GW to 8GW, equivalent to the output of four large conventional power plants. This is why firms such as Green Frog, Fulcrum Power and Power Balancing Services are pouring millions into building "mini-power stations" – container parks full of diesel generators – to qualify for "availability payments" so lavish that, in proportion, that they make the subsidy bonanza enjoyed by wind-farm operators look like chicken feed.

Mad though it might seem to cover for the deficiencies of wind turbines by pouring a fortune into diesel generators creating the very CO2 the wind farms are meant to save, even this pales into insignificance compared with the implications of an amendment narrowly passed last week by the European Parliament, designed to prevent the EU sharing in the cheap energy revolution made possible by fracking for shale gas.

The powerful "green" movement was exultant at the passing of this amendment, which – if it gets through the EU's tortuous legislative process – will force energy companies to pay for cripplingly expensive "environmental impact assessments" – even for test drilling to ascertain whether there is gas in the shale.

Furthermore, the MEPs voted to bring even the smallest test-drilling site under the control of a system that makes green lobby groups a key part of the regulatory process, enabling them to put every kind of obstacle in its way.

Their openly declared aim is that Europe must not be allowed to join the energy revolution which, in the US, has halved gas prices in just five years. Instead of this, the only effect of our Government's policy will be, before long, to double our energy costs, just when the average household energy bill already equates to a fifth of a pensioner’s income.

Yet all our brainless politicians can do is complain about rises in those bills, which are largely being made inevitable by their own actions. Truly, we are looking here at the maddest and most self-deceiving web of idiocies any generation of politicians can ever have put their hands to.

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