Tory gas security fears exposed as “hot air”


4:43 pm - February 12th 2010

by Newswire    


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Since before their conference in October the Conservative party have been raising fears of energy blackouts in Britain.

Greg Clark, Shadow energy minister, even claimed in his party conference speech that ‘there must be immediate action to keep the lights on‘ – a speech which, for dramatic effect, began in a darkened room.

The same language was trotted out at a debate about gas security in Westminster we helped organise, when Charles Hendry, Conservative Shadow Minister for Energy, raised the spectre of energy blackouts.

What’s going on here? Well, the thinly veiled subtext behind the Tory line goes like this: Britain is at the mercy of foreign powers – in particular the Russians – who supply us with our gas. It’s a pretty strong challenge. But is it right?

At the event, the experts who actually run our energy systems were pretty dismissive of the ‘energy blackout’ rhetoric. Chris Train, Network Operations Director at the National Grid, said that gas had not been in short supply during the cold spell, despite seven of the twenty coldest days on record in the UK.

Where gas had cut out, it was a result of the ‘Grid balancing supply and demand – reducing supply to some industrial customers on cheaper tariffs, who get lower bills in return for less predictability.

Sussex University energy expert Dr Jim Watson outlined new research showing that most challenges to energy security come from ropy domestic infrastructure (I’m paraphrasing) or limited gas storage capacity, but not from uncertainties in foreign supplies.

…more at Greenpeace UK

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Reader comments


Have you read the speech that this links to? Clark sets out a series of issues that are contributing to projected energy shortfalls – projections taken from a Govt policy paper. He includes limited storage facilities, aging and unreplaced nuclear and coal-fired power stations and an under-utlitised renewable sector.

The propensity of Russia to use its gas supplies as a bargaining tool (and they do switch it off when they want to, as they did last year) is referred to, but as an exacerbating factor to our low storage capacity.

So when Jim Watson identifies the problems as coming from “ropy domestic infrastructure (I’m paraphrasing) or limited gas storage capacity”, he’s echoing, rather than demolishing Clark’s argument. Does anyone ever read the things they puport to rebut?

2. Donut Hinge Party

If this is the same guy I heard during the freeze, he also said that he didn’t blame Centrica for not maintaining larger stores of gas because “it didn’t make commercial sense for them to do so,” not when they could sell any excess off to China, India, Poland or wherever else.

Chalk up another one for privatisation.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Ben Cooper

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  2. Justin McKeating

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  3. thabet

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  4. Liberal Conspiracy

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  5. Sandy Gray

    RT @libcon: Tory gas security fears exposed as "hot air" http://bit.ly/b7Wf8Y

  6. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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