Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Energy Confusion

Letter sent to the Guardian:

While your leader on energy policy made some important points, it is also confused on some key facts.("Keeping the lights on: it's what the government is for," 8 March, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/the-guardian-view-on-energy-policy-keeping-the-lights-on-is-what-governments-are-for).

It wrongly asserts "Hinkley [C] was intended to supply 7% of UK energy." This error is repeated in Nils Pratley's otherwise well considered commentary  -"Hinkley , according to the official script, was supposed to do much more than merely produce 7% of the UK's energy" - ("At last, someone gets the point about Hinkley") and in your news report -"the Hinkley Point C plant{....} is expected to meet 7% of the UK's energy- ("EDF and governments hold firm on Hinkley C").

This should read 7% of "electricity, not "energy": the difference is important, as this equates to less than 2% on UK energy use, and demonstrates the relatively trivial contribution Hinkley C will make to delivering UK energy services, were it ever to get built and operate (which I doubt)

Your leader also continues to ply the myth - promulgated  primarily by the electricity industry- that we face a future  power gap, that can only be met by large generators. Energy demand is actually going down- due to efficiency, primarily- and has  been for a number of years

Actual final energy consumption in 2014 was no less than 21 per cent lower than it was in the year 2000. The total amounts, according tot "Energy Consumption in the UK" almanac published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change(DECC), are respectively 159 and 135 million tons of oil equivalent.

As Andrew Warren, the indefatigable hon president of UK Association for Conservation of  Energy points out (http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/2433748/the-convenient-truth-that-is-falling-uk-energy-demand "The extraordinary thing is that, in the immortal words ascribed to Sir Michael Caine, not many people know this. Including, apparently, the Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom., who persistently talks of the "need to meet the UK's rising demand for energy." (DECC Press release, 25 September 2015, https://decc.blog.gov.uk/2015/09/23/shale-gas-an-inconvenient-truth-for-the-anti-fracking-lobby/)

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