The UK’s Energy Crisis

What annoys me most about the Solar Power Feed-in Tariff saga is not that the UK Government suddenly pulled the plug on the full rate for household-sized systems, or that they set the cut-off date before they finished their consultation, or even that that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) dragged out a legal appeal process.

Despite the truly pitiful sight of a Minister of State being sent out to bat with a miniaturised teaspoon to defend the indefensible decision, and despite the energy industry stooges that have placements inside DECC and are clearly affecting policy, no, the thing that really gets me is the focus on budgets instead of targets.

Here’s a summary from the Government’s own “long term trend” figures for energy consumption in Great Britain :-

Nobody can swear to me that the last few years are not just a glitch caused by economic instabilities, and that the re-localisation of manufacture in future in a recovering economy will not push this demand continually higher according to the trendline.

What are we using to supply this energy ? Here’s a summary :-

Despite the near exponential rise in renewable energy, it’s starting from a small base. The increase in energy consumption is being satisfied by a sharp rise in the supply of Natural Gas – something which the UK is producing increasingly less of these days. And for those who think that shale gas production would help, no, only a few percent of demand could be satisfied. This is an import-led energy supply, and the trend should ring alarm bells, but clearly doesn’t even tickle the ears of the average person in the street.

Electricity demand growth remains healthy, despite problems with unreliable supply from nuclear electricity (refered to as “outages” in the DECC Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) reports) :-

Now, in the future, with an envisioned massive rise in renewable energy, higher electricity use would be reasonable, as long as other energy consumption reduced. But the growth in electricity consumption charted here is not people driving more electric cars or using electric heating instead of Natural Gas-fired comfort. This is higher consumption, pure and simple, not “energy switching” over to electricity.

As an aside – the sum total of these figures indicates that the nation as a whole is not engaged in significant energy conservation, despite decades of campaigning.

All these trends add up to a very slight loss in dependency on fossil fuels for the UK’s energy :-

This is the critical trend. North Sea oil and Natural Gas production is falling like a large rock, and no amount of technological advancement and re-stimulating the drilling sector is turning this around. This means that without a rapid decrease in fossil fuel dependency, the United Kingdom is going to start haemorrhaging wealth.

Goodbye, First World.

This is why is it essential to ramp up renewable energy deployment by whatever means at our disposal.

Greg Barker MP bleating about keeping to budgets is not helping.

2 thoughts on “The UK’s Energy Crisis”

  1. Goodbye it is, Jo. There is in fact NO strategy, no mix of energy sources, no financial or economic policy which will maintain the current, simply unsustainable level of energy use in Britain; even if Russia turns out, in the event, to be a reliable medium-term supplier of natural gas to Europe, including Britain. No absolute guarantee of that is possible, of course. And if that supply is interrupted, then what.

    This is what I’ve been banging on about for some time now: Britain cannot, and will not, sustain our present profligate average lifestyle.

    In fact, it’s much worse than that. There’s a real and apparently undodgeable threat now growing slowly but inexorably that we will be unable just to feed and supply with other absolute necessaries the huge overpopulation that Britain now houses – just.

    Even if these spare essentials were available on world markets, how exactly is Britain to pay for them, at any price, let alone at the prices that will be standard as surpluses vanish worldwide?

    There appears to be barely any awareness of this danger, outside a miniscule [sic] percentage of serious realists following the output of The Oil Drum, Post Carbon Institute, and similar uncompromising clear-seers; nor any will at all to look at things realistically, and to begin to think about practical responses, amongst the whole Brit populace; certainly not amongst the simply hopeless gic/City-serving [gangsters-in-charge] political class. The pocket-pols [politicians-in-the-pockets-of-private-enterprise] seem to have no other idea at all beyond side-kicking for US imperialism, and seem quite unable to grasp that that huge global murder and extortion racket is now in its twilight.

    I often feel comforted these days that I have connections in the west of Eire [Ireland], and thus have the possibility of me and mine decamping to relatives there, if things get bad enough here. As they well might. Eire could feed itself from its own resources, assuming rapid and intelligent adoption of permacultural and forest-permacultural approaches; Britain couldn’t, though, even then.

  2. You do not want to contemplate Nuclear, Fracking, and Methyle hydrate.

    No – thought not.

    Living in a bubble still I see! :0)

    [ NOTE FROM JOABBESS.COM : METHYL HYDRATE IS USED AS AN ANTI-FREEZE AND SOLVENT AND IS ANOTHER NAME FOR METHANOL. I THINK THE COMMENTATOR MEANT TO TYPE “METHANE HYDRATES” ABOUT WHICH THERE HAS BEEN A RECENT BUZZ. OR MAYBE THE WRITER DID ACTUALLY MEAN METHANOL, IN WHICH CASE IT’S USEFUL TO NOTE THAT BIOMETHANOL COULD TURN OUT TO BE A USEFUL VEHICLE FUEL PRODUCT OF BIOREFINERY – EXCEEDINGLY USEFUL ONCE PEAK OIL REALLY BITES. ]

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