Matt Ridley: Britain’s Energy Policy Keeps Picking Losers

From The GWPF

Matt Ridley, The Times

The liberalised energy markets introduced by Nigel Lawson in 1982, embraced by the Blair government and emulated across Europe, delivered both affordability and reliability. But they were abandoned. All three parties share the blame for Britain’s policy fiasco.

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Shortly before parliament broke up this month, there was a debate on a Lords select committee report on electricity policy that was remarkable for its hard-hitting conclusions. The speakers, and signatories of the report, included a former Labour chancellor, Tory energy secretary, Tory Scottish secretary, cabinet secretary, ambassador to the European Union and Treasury permanent secretary, as well as a bishop, an economics professor, a Labour media tycoon and a Lib Dem who was shortlisted for governor of the Bank of England.

Genuine heavyweights, in short. They were in general agreement: energy policy is a mess, decarbonisation has been pursued at the expense of affordability and, in particular, the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset is an expensive disaster. Their report came out before the devastating National Audit Office report on Hinkley, which said the government had “locked consumers into a risky and expensive project [and] did not consider sufficiently the risks and costs to the consumer”.

Hinkley is but the worst example of a nationalised energy policy of picking losers. The diesel fiasco is another. The wind industry, with its hefty subsidies paid from the poor to the rich to produce unreliable power, is a third. The biomass mess (high carbon, high cost and environmental damage) is a fourth.

The liberalised energy markets introduced by Nigel Lawson in 1982, embraced by the Blair government and emulated across Europe, delivered both affordability and reliability. But they were abandoned and, in the words of the Lords committee, “a succession of policy interventions has led to the creation of a complex system of subsidies and government contracts at the expense of competition. Nobody has built a power station without some form of government guarantee since 2012.”

All three parties share the blame. Labour’s Climate Change Act of 2008 made Britain the only country with mandatory decarbonisation targets, a crony-capitalist’s dream. The Lib Dems who ran the energy department for five years, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey, negotiated the disastrous Hinkley contract. The Tories reviewed the decision in 2016, by which time it was clear we had managed the unique feat of finding a technology that was untested yet already obsolete. They decided to go ahead anyway, missing the chance to blame the other parties for it. As the energy analyst Peter Atherton put it, the three parties “have managed to design possibly the most expensive programme for delivering nuclear power we could have come up with”.

The chief Lib Dem mistake was to ignore the shale gas and oil revolutions under way in America and assume that fossil fuel prices would rise from already high levels. By 2011, influenced by peak-oil nonsense and lobbied by professors of “sustainability”, the department of energy and climate change was projecting that the oil price would be between $97 and $126 per barrel in 2017. Today it is about $50 a barrel, roughly half the lowest of the 2011 projections. Gas prices were expected to be about 76p per therm by now, whereas they are actually about half that: 37p.

The shale revolution is gathering pace all the time. Britain has very promising shales and could prosper and cut emissions if it joins in, so let us hope the first wells about to be drilled in Lancashire by Cuadrilla, against the determined opposition of wealthy, middle-class protesters, prove successful. (No, I don’t have a commercial interest in shale.)

This forecasting mistake is behind much of the rising cost of Hinkley. In 2015 the whole-life cost of its power was expected to be £14 billion. Now it is £50 billion. Because consumers are on the hook to pay the difference between the wholesale price of electricity and the “strike price” for Hinkley, we must hope that the project is badly delayed, because that way our children will at least spend fewer years paying inflated electricity prices.

These bad forecasts, widely criticised at the time, make all strike prices horribly expensive, for onshore and offshore wind and solar as well. Lib Dem ministers kept saying at the time that subsidies for renewables and Hinkley would protect the consumer against “volatile” gas prices. Yes, they have done so: by guaranteeing high prices. Oh for a little downward volatility!

Britain’s industrial and commercial users now have some of the highest electricity prices in the developed world, which find their way to households in cost of living and a downward pressure on wages. American industry pays about half as much for its electricity as we do, and everyone benefits. Energy prices are not just any consumer price: they determine the prosperity of the entire economy.

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117 thoughts on “Matt Ridley: Britain’s Energy Policy Keeps Picking Losers

  1. Ask a committee to design a horse….you get a camel. Ask a committee of politicians to design anything and you get ….crap.

    • …mmm… actually you get governmental camels. Suitable for conditions that may or may not exist, for itineraries that may or may not materialize, with maintenance budgets that keep the camels alive even if no on needs ’em, wants ’em or uses ’em. And government and non-government supporting systems to keep the camel-keepers feedbags full, pens mucked, grounds mown and watered, HR and accounting lasses deployed, project managers consulted, paid and an ENDLESS stream of PhD and Grad School ingenues, staff, housing arbiters, welfare distributers and REGULATORS in their feed.

      Just saying.

    • Politicians are experts at picking losing technology. The market picks winners, so all that is left for politicians are losers. Politicians never learn from history.

      • Phillip, I can remember in my professional life designing and implementing computer management systems for both private and government ‘agencies’. The private tended to be pragmatic; the government tended to want the systems to be able to ‘make the tea’ as well – and they would rather it succeeded at the the ‘tea-making’ than the actual object of the project. I don’t see that anything has changed.

      • Sounds like South Australian pollies with our wind ‘generators’ (typed laughingly) plus every state that has an unused desalination plant

      • <blockquote "Harry Passfield August 3, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        Phillip, I can remember in my professional life designing and implementing computer management systems for both private and government ‘agencies’"

        I’ll add a few ducats of memories here also.
        The private companies were also excellent at keeping their specs within agreement, therefore costs controlled.

        Government agencies seem to be sources for a stream of never ending “changes”.
        Every change affects the deadline and impacts the cost, often greatly. Badly managed changes can reduce the finest designs to disasters.
        Rare is the government official in charge of a program that locks down designs.

      • Phillip. Would it be wonderful (in countries where the actual votes were counted and there were conservative as well as leftist parties) if voters who voted left had to pay all the increase in energy costs and voters who voted conservative had their energy prices frozen until/if the conservatives got back in power.

      • I would make a quibble here.

        Governments select one answer out of the range of dozens of answers. The odds of them picking exactly the right answer are vanishing small.

        Contrary to popular belief, private enterprise is no better at picking the right answer. What they do instead is pick all the possible answers – someone takes a stab at every viable solution. Those that picked correctly are hailed as titans of industry, those that didn’t go bankrupt and are forgotten. Better still – those that pick incorrectly are often given the chance to pick again from fewer choices.

        The government manages to double down on the wrong choice – why not? what possible price will they pay?

      • And that is why socialism always fails: No person or organization can be right a majority of the time. The creative destruction of capitalism is the price one pays to move society forward.

        Socialism, using a small elite coterie at the top, fails to respond to changing circumstances. Name a successful socialist country.

    • “rocketscientist August 3, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Ask a committee of politicians to design anything and you get ….crap.”

      Hey! Modern English language was made this way…

    • Selling Westinghouse was another of Gordon Brown’s wonderful ideas. It fitted with the deliberate avoidance by the Blair/Brown governments of committing to new nuclear power stations to avoid upsetting the anti-nuclear lobby.

  2. Where are the engineers and economists in Britain? Who are they? Maybe they should take refresher courses in the US. I’m sure some kind of deal could be struck.

  3. If the government really is prepared to have anti-fracking protesters jailed, we might get somewhere.

      • Griff

        Where do you propose our base power comes from? We are living on borrowed time as far as an extended blackout is concerned. A cold winter with grey skies and no wind will cause us severe problems

        Perhaps I can come round your house and we can burn your furniture? Please send address

        Tonyb

      • Only lower in your social bubble, Griff.

        Hey, Griff, have you turned off your gas and electric supplies yet? Because we would hate you to be a complete hypocrite. Just where do you think our energy will come from, in 2020? And if you say renewables, will you give us a solem pledge to never use any energy at night, or when the wind is calm? Will you?

        Here is a handy gauge for estimating how much renewables we are generating. Will you disconnect your electricity supplies, if renewable supplies drop below 30 gw…??
        http://clivebest.com/rgraph/Wind.html

        R

      • Griff: That is because of endless anti-fracking propaganda from the media to an ignorant population which has increasingly been the beneficiary of a dumbed-down left wing education system.

      • Hysterical ‘support’, Griff. If they want to be put in jail, then let them suffer for their principles – as much as they would want others to suffer for lack of cheap electricity. You are the epitome of an amoral person.

      • giffiepoo:

        All that is needed are a few farmers with manure dispersal trucks. Problem solved.

        Though it would not hurt to place the instigators behind bars, for a few years.

      • Griif,
        Perhaps a course in logic might be of some assistance. The level of support for fracking and the number of people who have the time and wherewithal to go on protests about fracking are not connected.

      • “they’d have to put huge numbers of people in jail.”

        As they are all effectively industrial saboteurs, that would be no problem whatsoever.

        We could put them all on treadmills and they could produce ‘Renewable’ energy.

        And guess who I’d start with…

    • Or just publicly expose the already documented inconvenient fact that all of the anti-fracking protesters are being bankrolled by Vladimir Putin and his pals, as part of his quest to dominate the nat gas market in Europe, and through that the European economies.

  4. Even if the UK does not produce its own shale gas, the LNG market will provide gas at a much lower price than prior projections. It took time but the shale revolution extended its market reach to extended markets. Some of those LNG ships will pass by the subsidy ships carrying wood pellets from clear cut forests. These are places where we need more live cams to educate people, along with their own utility bills of course and layoff notices.

  5. Ridley is quite wrong about wind and solar: Arup just published a report showing onshore wind is cheaper than gas… the first unsubsidised solar plant is under construction.

    (Around mid day today wind and solar were proving 30% of UK electricity demand)

    • The “unsubsidised” solar plant you keep on trumpeting is in the grounds of the solar manufacturer.
      It’s just an extravagent and ostentatious folly in the gardens of an extremely rich English country house.
      It won’t contribute to the economy – it’s just there to flaunt wealth (expropriated from taxpayers).

    • Have you figured out yet where the power comes from when the wind ain’t blowin’? When you have, do the sums again.

    • Hey, Griff, I want to recharge my Tesla at night, not at midday. How much solar will we be generating tonight? Just a rough estimate – to the nearest gw….

      R

      (Not a silly question, because the Spanish found that solar farms were generating a lot of energy overnight. It turned out to be a diesel-produced subsidy skam.).

    • that must be why the wind industry demanded £15/MWh to deliver unreliable wind and gas only gets paid £40/Mwh

    • “Around mid day today wind and solar were proving 30% of UK electricity demand”

      Consider that lucky. In Ontario, about 11% wind power is available in the energy mix. The last few days temperatures have been in the 27-30C range, everyone’s A/C’s are going. Wind production output has been exactly opposite to what demand has required. With hot summer days, afternoon air masses become stale. Gas production is needed to make-up the shortfall. Wind just cannot be relied upon when it is needed.

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2SUakWV8_Y7dlhKSFJrT0F0aFU/view?usp=sharing

      http://www.ieso.ca/-/media/images/ieso/charts-and-graphs/current_supply_mix-tx-18mo.png?h=321&la=en&w=590&hash=CFB18727C679612CC795E28CCAD1782839784DD7

    • “Around mid day today wind and solar were proving 30% of UK electricity demand …”.
      ===========================================
      This is the UK electricity generation profile for January 2017:

      Good luck with your wind + solar during future UK winters.

      • No one can say that successive UK governments haven’t tried the ‘renewables’ lark, you only have to look at what they have done to their countryside.
        Yet all that has been achieved for all the harm and cost so far is what looks like icing on a cake, serving no real purpose other than appearances.

    • Wind in Germany, extremely inefficient and unreliable,

      below 50% of nameplate 95% of the time.

      PATHETIC.

      And UK wind is not going to be much difference

      In fact I once did a calculation , and found that the *95% reliability* in the whole of the UK is below 4% of nameplate.

      *95% reliability*… the % nameplate that is available for 95% of the time.

      The whole wind power scam is a total and complete FARCE. !

    • Does the weather in GB induce insanity? I live in one of the most solar friendly places in the world (Las Vegas, NV). No end to solar subsidies in sight. And GB can rely on solar? In what world?

    • “giffiepoo August 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Ridley is quite wrong about wind and solar: Arup just published a report showing onshore wind is cheaper than gas… the first unsubsidised solar plant is under construction.

      (Around mid day today wind and solar were proving 30% of UK electricity demand)”

      Whatever you are playing with giffiepoo, it isn’t reality.

      At noon today:
      England’s wind supplied 22%, utilizing 48% capacity
      Solar supplied a big 7%, utilizing 28% capacity

      Meaning massive extremely expensive solar and wind generators did not contribute to England’s energy.
      A sinful waste of money, equipment and space.

      It is astonishing when trollops like giffiepoo, find wanton waste and subsequent cost burdens upon citizens so desirable that they are proud of the failures.

    • 30% if pretty good. Now, if they could store it for this evening when it is needed, it would be useful.

      Instead of forcing the other generating stations to shut down giving priority to wind and solar, which are money-losers, they should do what the South African ESKOM has done.

      Offered power from three large scale ‘renewable energy farms’ ESKOM refused to take it because it was overpriced. It was not offered at a price above the current retail price as in Ontario. No, and it was not above the wholesale price offered to independent power producers in South Africa. But they turned it down anyway because it would cost them money to take it and they refused, unless the government allowed them to increase the price of electricity to cover that cost.

      The reason is straightforward business: ESKOM has invested billions in a power plant that is running below max, but at a reasonable capacity. If they buy the ‘renewable’ energy they will have to dial back their % capacity of output. The income from the sale of electricity will go to the renewable generating farms to pay for THEIR capital costs. Why would ESKOM agree to park their capacity while the capital expenses continue, to sell power that helps the wind farm and solar panel investors pay for their investment? You get my drift?

      If they have to pay for their capital equipment but are not allowed to use it, there is a cost, a loss actually. That cost should borne by the ’cause’ of the loss which is the renewable farm investors. Because the ESKOM plants have to be available 24/7 they are forced to invest in capacity that the renewable guys want them to not use, if they happen to have power to sell.

      There are three large renewable energy farms that just came on line and to date, ESKOM has refused to buy power from any of them. If their expenses are covered by a higher retail price, they are willing to get involved, but the government says ‘No’ to that. Prices are to remain where they are. Every household still gets 50 kWh per month free. That is borne by ESKOM.

      In Europe the opposite prevails. The distributor has to take all renewable energy available at a high price (full retail) and get rid of it or pay the producer not to generate (UK). The base load suppliers are left with both variable sales and a low price. Obviously they can’t survive financially like that. They will have to raise their prices to cover the forced losses. Or they too must receive a subsidy ‘not to generate’. No economy can afford to have duplication of all power generating capacity while favouring the unreliable one.

      It is interesting how smart developing countries can be compared with developed ones.

    • Below Mark W says…
      ” When Griff figures the cost of renewables, he always includes the government subsidies and he always excludes the costs renewables force onto other forms of energy.”

      Bingo! The largest subsidy of all. Also Gruff never looks at net taxes paid. There is zero chance Gruff is correct.

  6. So what are the odds that this facility was designed to fail? Therby proving that Nuclear is far more expensive than wind or solar.

    • Considering that other countries are able to build effective and affordable Nuclear Power Plants, I’d say they are definitely doing something wrong. As to whether they’d do it wrong on purpose, welllll, they’re politicians.

      <¿<

      • Hinkely C contract probably has more to do with the fact that Gordon Brown’s brother was working for EDF.

        They were given twice the current wholesale price guaranteed for the life of the plant and inflation indexed plus the UK govt agreed to take on the costs of any nuclear accident that may happen, brilliantly decoupling those responsible for the cost of ensuring security from any liability in case of accident.

        What could possibly go wrong?

    • Hinkley point is a far better deal than wind or solar as evinced by the cfd strike prices.

      EDF want £95/Mwh
      Onshore wind is £110 I think
      Offshore is £150 and solar is around £300
      market price of gas is around £40-£50

    • Parkinson’s “High Finance” nuclear power station example come to pass?

      (Chapter in “Parkinson’s Law or The Pursuit of Progress”)

  7. Is there some sort of Gresham’s Law at work in the UK, such that bad politicians drive good politicians out of circulation?

    • There appears to be one for all politicians messing in the energy systems: “bad energy drives out good energy.” There was even an article at Climate Etc showing why this was true.

    • There appears to be one for all politicians messing in the energy systems: “bad energy drives out good energy.” There was even an article at Climate Etc showing why this was true.

    • Poor circulation is often caused by ‘clots’. We have plenty of those in our politics.

  8. I am a Chartered Engineer, and the problem is that the Government does not take advice from real Engineers. Much of it comes from Academics who control our Institutions, as us workers do not have the spare time required. I have written to ministers pointing out the foolishness of some of these policies, but get no reply at all! They are probably binned by some Civil Servant who “protects” their Minister! You can read some of these comments at http://www.theiet.org/forums/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=205&threadid=103620&enterthread=y

    David CEng MIET.

    • The Institution of Chemical Engineers is firmly in the grip of the climate change hysteria brigade, and has been for some years. It sent a nauseating letter of support to Ed Davey (yes, really) in 2013, signed by the director of communication and policy, who happens to have stood for Parliament, unsuccessfully thus far, as a Labour candidate. If the government even bothers to ask engineers for advice, it will be to such institutions that they are likely to turn, so not much chance of getting a sensible response.

    • … ah, Brexit, the sunrise of a trading empire ….
      An acquaintance of my family bakes a what might be considered politically and dietally controversial cookie: British Brexit Breakfast Biscuit, absolutely delicious

      (recipe: lot of eggs, butter, honey and all laced with helping of brandy)
      Currently available only to the friends and family, free of charge if name can be accurately repeated three times in five seconds.

  9. “……..Genuine heavyweights, in short. They were in general agreement: energy policy is a mess, decarbonisation has been pursued at the expense of affordability and, in particular, the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset is an expensive disaster…….”

    To err is human. But to REALLY mess things up requires government.

  10. The US has a very significant advantage regarding shale gas/oil-the minerals are usually owned by the landowner. He wants the oil/gas to be produced so that he gets his royalty income. Depending on acreage and well rates this income may be a few dollars or thousands of Dallas per month.

    • Stan on The Brazos,

      Not in the DPRNY (Democratic People’s Republic of New York). Yes, the mineral rights are privately owned, but Chairman Cuomo has forbidden the rabble landowners from exploiting their own resources.

      • To make it worse, right on top of that Marcellus shale, foreign companies have been destroying the beautiful hills between the western Finger Lakes putting up industrial wind plants (there’s nothing “farm-like” about them). Local counties and towns had no say; THAT has been deemed a transaction only between landowner and the wind corporation.

        15 years ago our small town did stop the northward advance of those plants with a successful referendum to modify our town zoning and building codes adding a requirement for bonds to repair highways and bridges (damaged by the humongous equipment necessary to carry the blades and nacelles up the mountains) as well as a bond to cover the cost of returning the site (including the massive concrete pads) to its original status in the event the corporation went bankrupt (read: “took their money and ran.”)

        I’ve since moved to the south with much more pleasant weather and tax policy so I don’t know if those covenants are still in place, or if Cuomo has found a way to over ride local municipal influence.

        (Wish I could post a picture of the steep and serene ridge above Canadice Lake that was targeted, but I only have a digital picture of it on my own computer.)

    • “Stan on The Brazos August 3, 2017 at 11:42 am
      The US has a very significant advantage regarding shale gas/oil-the minerals are usually owned by the landowner. He wants the oil/gas to be produced so that he gets his royalty income. Depending on acreage and well rates this income may be a few dollars or thousands of Dallas per month.”

      No.

      Virtually all urban and suburban properties in the USA are sold without mineral rights.

      Even large tracts of land are sold without the mineral rights.

      All an oil company needs is a few access points. They can reach and drain underlying strata easily.

  11. The problem with government is that you either have government by the people or you have government by the highest bidder. There is nothing, really, in between. Either the people take the responsibility of researching their candidates and exercising their authority through voting, or they can sit back and let the talking heads on TV tell them all about the candidates, and watch the clever ads, and stay home since they know that their vote doesn’t matter anyway, which guarantees the government is owned by the highest bidder, and not in anyway responsible to the people.

    You can’t sit back and let the parties select the candidates, either, for then they are controlled by the parties who are controlled by the highest bidders. It is costly to run a campaign, but would it be if no one bothered to watch the ads on the TV but only went out to see candidates debate? Trump was not a candidate that the Republican party wanted. It was a popular vote revolution that forced the party to accept him, although they never did support him in the campaign and certainly not since. Sanders never intended to be the candidate, otherwise he would not have campaigned for Clinton after the email scandal came out. So people can force a candidate on the government. But if you truly want responsible government, you have to do it every campaign, not once in a while, and you can never be anything but vigilant.

    I realize the house of Lords is not an elected body, but you still have an elected government that can be forced to do the bidding of the people, not the buyers, if you want it bad enough to work for it. Trouble is, those on welfare don’t want to rock the boat, and those that are working 2 jobs to keep a roof over the kid’s head don’t really have the time. And then, of course, it might cut into the time we can spend watching TV or at the sporting events, so maybe it is too much effort to do the research. Or, in other words, the 20% of the people that try to make a difference by being conscientious about the elections are buried by those that don’t really care, are afraid to rock the boat, or are willing to let the talking heads tell them who to vote for, and you end up with the same ineffective for the people but extremely effective for those ho bought and paid for the candidates. Still, the option to have responsible government is there – to a responsible citizenry.

    • Tom O. Not completely accurate. There are a number of dictatorships around the world which act according to the tyrants will. North Korea is an example in the news as is the Communist dictator in Venezuela. Then there is this quote attributed to Stalin: Joseph Stalin is famously said to have asked an adviser, dismissively, “How many divisions does the Pope have?”

  12. You only after look at the Grenfell Tower disaster (heat insulation was the guiding factor, not safety) to see where our idiotic energy policy is taking us. The fact is that our politicians do not realise that they are being conned by the UN into sacrificing our wealth and economy on the evidence of a group of “scientists” who would be unemployed and unemployable if their theories were untrue. This is worrying enough, but they also appear to be so stupid that they think that a rise in CO2 from 0.032% to 0.04% is going to cause catastrophe which can be averted by producing even more CO2 at the point of construction than is saved at the point of delivery. Wind turbines needing special roads and 800 tons of concrete, electric cars, the manufacture of which emits the same amount of CO2 as a petrol family car does in 8 years, the logic of shipping 7.5 million tons of wood across the Atlantic, when 5 million tons of anthracite from Europe would provide the same amount of electric power. The list of this stupidity gets longer and longer in direct proportion to our politician’s collective IQs getting lesser and lesser

    • No, I’m sorry, that human tragedy is down to corruption and greed, not renewables policy.

      Or don’t people in social housing get insulated homes?

      • “that human tragedy is down to corruption and greed, not renewables policy.”

        Another lie, Skanky.

        Apologised yet?

      • Griff, it was also about minimising carbon emissions meaning higher government grants. There was a similar predictable mistake when our PM Gordon Brown decided to subsidise diesel vehicles in the UK because they emit less CO2 than petrol equivalents. People bought them in good faith and now are facing scrapping them because they emit more nitrogen oxides and PM10s which are hazardous to human health.

  13. The problem with Hinkley is that they are pursuing a nuclear technology that is about to be rendered obsolete, especially in terms of price. Molten salt reactors are being developed by more than a dozen companies and govts (India/China) and the levelized energy costs will be lower than anything out there. The safety is absolute and the reactors can be built in factories and
    the sites require little preparation. The reactors can also load-follow, which eliminates any need for mid level generation by fossil or hydro. The plants will be up and running before any light water reactor you begin building right now. Build costs estimated at $2 per watt ($2 billion per 1000 MWs).

    • I think you are a little premature there…

      Best estimates I’ve seen for molten salt reactor is early 2030s for a first ‘commercial’ design. At unknown cost.

      We could much better have put in one of the non-EPR reactor designs (e.g. Korean): if we had it would likely be built now. I’m hoping Wylfa may go ahead…

      • There is that word again. Estimate. We can do power now, no estimate! It works right now! Coal, gas and oil.

  14. A cabal of village idiots could’ve done a better job than our recent energy secretaries. Seriously. A bunch of ideologically driven weapons.

  15. About a month ago in another thread some Brit said, “We have the stupidest and most ignorant politicians on the planet.”

    • Roger Knights

      Don’t repeat that for God’s sake. You’ll have the socialist left in here agreeing with you.

      You’re commentator was quite correct though.

    • Actually there is competition in that at least. I think the pollies in Australia both state and Federal are providing serious competition for the most ignorant.

  16. Matt makes good points, as usual.

    He states we had, at one time, thanks to Nigel Lawson, a half way decent energy policy. But as usual, successive governments meddled with it.

    Like any good policy, every politician want’s a piece of the action to guild their own lilly. So they argue for their idea of improvement, which creates complexity, founded on scientific and commercial ignorance. The process is repeated again and again until, like everything else political in the UK, it becomes mired in bureaucracy.

    Matt is a good guy to listen to. He’s a politician, a businessman and an academic (a Zoologist, no less) with a sound understanding of environmental concerns. He’s been through the school of hard knocks (he was Chairman(?) of Northern Rock when the financial crisis in the UK hit there first) he owns a coal mine and, I believe, farmland, and yet he’s accessible. I emailed him with some comments and he replied!

    Read his blog and you’ll find him a pragmatist inclined to look at numbers rather than hysteria. And if you read his Times article on windfarms (freely available on his blog) it will make you laugh out loud at the blatant stupidity of even considering them a viable energy source.

    It’s a pity he doesn’t contribute to WUWT with his incite into the political mess this country is in over energy policy.

      • Gild, too, BTW…….but I absolutely and totally agree with your observations, HotScot. Lawson did the right thing and the UK benefited enormously from that. Since then, the meddlers have completely screwed things up. Of course, it’s even worth north of the border with that demented redhead and her team destroying the landscape with their useless windfarms and putting a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Scotland’s proud history as one of the founding nations of the industrial revolution endowed with engineering ingenuity & plentiful hydrocarbon resources (shale oil in Kincardine, coal across the Central belt, Oil & gas in the North Sea and West of Shetland) is besmirched by these idiots who have no grasp of either science or history. Obviously, Scotland has significant shale gas and oil resources both offshore and onshore and it’s a crying shame to see this bounty squandered in the name of CAGW and totally inefficient “green energy” of the sort promoted by the SNP and those sycophantic fools in the Green party. Very sad!

      • Phil, Scotland is near the point of getting all its electricity from renewables, with some left over for export…

      • “Griff August 4, 2017 at 1:50 am

        Phil, Scotland is near the point of getting all its electricity from renewables, with some left over for export…”

        A fallacy! Note Scotland will not drop it’s fossil fuel generation while exporting “excess”. You are a funny one.

      • “Scotland is near the point of getting all its electricity from renewables”

        More lies…

        No it isn’t, not even close.

      • And you are from a coal mining family. A product of that “wealth”, and you want to deny others that “wealth”?

      • So doesn’t being a Zoologist and a farmer also influence his opinions?

        Not that he particularly writes opinionated articles, he backs up everything he writes with well researched fact.

        Visit his blog and see for yourself.

      • How could Gruff read his blog with the science and logic filters he wears?

        Griff, prove me wrong, read the blog and then provide a logical rebuttal.

      • “Griff, prove me wrong, read the blog and then provide a logical rebuttal.”

        He isn’t paid to provide logical rebuttals.

        He’s paid to derail discussions and attempt to damage the professional reputations of any scientist that his handlers consider threatens the credibility of ‘the Cause’ or the ‘Unreliables’ industry.

  17. As Another Ian has pointed out on this thread,it’s the same story with different players in Australia, led by South Australia, the renewables crash test dummy of the world.
    The political outcome will be that pusillanimous politicians will bumble along, frightened of being called ” deniers” until the economic cost to the public ends in a revolt, but the damage will be enormous.

  18. Y’all have it all wrong. The politicians and bureaucrats always pick winners: their friends and family, those that put them in power, the media that helped get them elected, the donors to their campaign, etc, etc. Always follow the money, or favours present and future.

  19. Its all about the money, once subsidies and unconventional energy generation come into it, the vendors dont need to make money, they need subsidies. It then becomes easy to justify promoting technologies that favor friends and family.

  20. The UK forgot the teachings of Adam Smith. No one in government pays with their own money. The invisible hand isn’t available. Only crony theft continues.

  21. Matt Ridley would be more credible if he finally admitted the failures of Northern Rock under his watch were largely due to the unfettered free market he reveres. Neither does his admiration for Thatcherism allow him to accept that Nuclear Power in the UK was utterly derailed by the Thatcher government and their short-termist obsession with the free market. It was stupid enough to dismantle the CEGB and to sell off something as vital to the country as energy to foreigners but they managed to outdo it by creating a private monopoly of the national grid.

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