UK Energy Security Now and 2030

Energy security is a perennial favourite at Think Defence towers, it is important factor in the overall defence and security of the UK, for example, the reason the Royal Navy has a number of mine countermeasures vessels stationed in Qatar is not because of the nice weather and attractive Sheesha scene but because Qatari gas from the North Pars field is connected to the South Hook LNG terminal in Milford Haven by a conveyor belt like stream of LNG tankers.


I have looked at energy security a number of times, it is important factor in the overall defence and security of the UK, for example, the reason the Royal Navy has a number of mine countermeasures vessels stationed in Qatar is not because of the nice weather and attractive Sheesha scene but because Qatari gas from the North Pars field is connected to the South Hook LNG terminal in Milford Haven by a conveyor belt like stream of LNG tankers.

Click here and here for a review of the older materials

In these posts I wrote about our increasing dependence on LNG as a source of both heat and electricity and that the import and storage would become one of the UK’s major defence and security concerns.

Then came along the shale gas revolution in the United States which means instead of having to compete with the Far East for Qatari gas and dealing with the security implications of the Gulf of Arabia, Bab al Mandab and Suez the UK just might be able to execute a neat one two and switch our prime supplier to Uncle Sam.

In March this year Centrica signed a 20 year deal with Cheniere Energy in Louisiana for 1.75 million tonnes of LNG per year exported from their Sabine Pass gasification and storage complex.

Sabine Pass LNG Terminal
Sabine Pass LNG Terminal

Deliveries are due to commence in 2018 and prices will be based on those traded at the Henry Hub, a pricing point for gas futures.

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Gas fracking is producing an abundance of gas in the USA which is reflected in the low prices and availability for export.

The UK strategy for gas has been one of supply side diversity and this is just another element of that strategy but US LNG will become increasingly important.

In stark contrast to the US gas price stability the UK’s gas prices have been quite volatile and susceptible to short term disruption. A recent problem with the Interconnector pipeline between the UK at Bacton and Zeebrugge in Belgium which resulted in an 8 hour outage caused a large price fluctuation, up 50% to £1.50 per therm wholesale.

The reason for this price volatility as a result of what should be seen by all as a short term disruption is because of a number of factors.

Cold weather and continuing demand combined with a woefully small storage capacity mean the UK was at one point down to less than 1.5 day’s supply, another disruption to either a pipeline or one of the inbound LNG tankers may well have seen rationing imposed.

During this period there were three tankers en route from Qatar, these three tankers can supply around 430 million metres of gas (when regassified) which is just over ONE DAY’s demand.

The market worked, supplies were not rationed but price volatility is not good for the economy let alone the prospect of bobble hatted pensioners freezing to death whilst watching Eastenders.

In the coming months and years our moronic EU inspired green legislation will see many of our coal fired power plants being decommissioned which will mean there will be very little contingency and the base load will have to be met from elsewhere.

The high price is attractive to suppliers and a cargo from Trinidad will arrive in the UK in a couple of days, increasingly rare as they get better prices from Asia.

The UK is now paying between 50% and 70% higher prices than the normal long term average at the National Balancing Point.

Because the UK does not in general use long term contracts and, as mentioned above, has a tiny storage capacity these pricing peaks now seem to the norm.

Declining North Sea supplies, a short term contract landscape, lack of storage, cold weather and an increasing reliance on gas as coal is phased out means the UK has probably the worst energy security outlook of any European nation as it has to compete for gas on a market that will usually find better prices in the Far East.

Successive Governments have been delinquent in their approach to energy security and half a dozen minesweepers is going to make the square root of nothings difference to that.

Increasing gas storage should be seen as a strategic security issue in the short and medium term

What About 2030

17 years is a long time to look into a crystal ball but an interesting set of reports from BP tries to do just that.

The reports note that in the period to 2030 the US will become nearly energy independent in contrast to China and India. By 2030 China alone will have a larger gas demand than the whole of the EU put together with this demand being largely met by Australia, Qatar and domestic production.

This means both China and India are going to have to play an increasing role in their own energy security and get a whole lot more engaged in the ‘Middle East’

I don’t think we truly appreciate the magnitude of the strategic shift that US energy (near) independence will mean.

Or, the scale of dependence of the EU as a whole on imported natural gas, this rising to 49% by 2030, despite Norway.

Download presentations, reports and videos from BP here, fascinating stuff.

SDSR 2015

What does all this mean for SDSR 2015 then?

Certainly in the short term the UK’s dependence on Qatari LNG will result in a continuing security presence in the area but in the medium to long term, it is not impossible to envisage a strategic withdrawal from the area as increasing gas imports from the USA mean there is less need to do so.  In recent decades, India and China have benefited from Middle East supply security underwritten by the USA and Western nations, is it impossible to predict the UK relying on them for security of our supplies of Qatari gas?


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April 1, 2013 11:02 pm

Missing a couple of issues there TD, by 2030 gas should be becoming less involved in our day to day generation needs and, depending on some other factors and shifting patterns, moves should have been made to reduce reliance on gas for heating uses too.

It’s main focus should by 2030 have moved to providing a backup to renewable generation (see wind) during low production periods. Base load is moving to nuclear and a mixture of renewables.

So it may be more sensible instead to be investing in reducing gas demand for heating, and diversifying and strengthening other base load sources. I’d say the money would be more wisely spent there than large scale gas storage. Yes some capacity increase is needed, but even much larger storage systems in Europe only provide a few days leeway. For the cost, and to meet other obligations, reduction should be the primary focus.

And that’s without even considering any possible benefits from some implementation of fracking in the UK or utilising waste and biogasses.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 1, 2013 11:40 pm

– Fracking certainly, and we also ought to go back to the clean coal technologies that we should have been exploring seriously instead of engaging in a trial of strength with the NUM…an act of folly on both sides that might have wasted hundreds of years of usable coal reserves; I’d also like to look at carbon neutral cities – CHP, urban wind farms, methane recovery, solar, small-scale watermill generation, coppicing et al…and power production at village level with different applications of the same sorts of technologies.

I have a view that when the history of energy in the industrial age is written, the creation of massive national grids at the expense of self-contained local systems will be identified as an error of major proportions…but an intelligent application of the green plus agenda might provide a way back…keeping the grid to equalise supply across many localities all both contributing and using energy.

As to paying for it, not Defence which is hard enough pressed as it is…surely some combination of Energy, Science, and Trade and Industry?

April 2, 2013 12:06 am

Gloomy, good thing about national grids is that shortfall from one area can be compensated from other areas and allows fewer higher capacity generation facilities instead of many many lower efficiency ones, calling it a mistake might be going too far considering that it brought more benefits than downsides. If you have a lot more lower efficiency plants, your dependence on gas would be even greater than it is now.

Of course, problems on a national scale will black out the entire system… can’t have everything.

I do not see gas storage increase as a way to improve the strategic security, no matter the degree of bunkerage you have, your main problem still remains. Dependence on the gas supply. Bunkerage is a band aid for shortages, but it still can’t stop the bleeding if the supply is cut.

What is needed is research into more reliable sources of energy that you can have in-country, not renewable, though renewable helps a lot as you are no longer are tied to a supply. Unfortunately renewable is not reliable at the moment, so that is out, though tidal turbines through the English Channel is an intriguing idea.

The energy security issue is a big one for many countries. To demonstrate how big, there was a government proposal in Singapore for nuclear power. On a country that would disappear off the map if someone simply “oopsie”ed on the safety. The fact that such a high risk scheme was not thrown straight out shows the seriousness of the situation, that energy security is equal to the existence of the country, or maybe even energy security IS the country’s existence. Insane, maybe, but opinion among my friends and I are that it is inevitable considering rising oil prices and will probably be implemented within a generation or two.

Would the UK go nuclear?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 2, 2013 1:05 am

@Observer – I am certainly not against nuclear, nor the National Grid – but as a device to equalise supply across many different production facilities – which can and should be as efficient in production as possible – if the issue is energy security a few big energy sources are inherently less secure in terms of fuel supply, vulnerability to attack or disruption than many smaller ones using a range of different fuel sources; making sure the small ones are efficient is about engineering and the financial model as much as about size.

Just think about all those buildings constructed in the 1970’s and 1980’s with a big secure room for “THE COMPUTER” and a Data Prep Room….many now piled high with the year before last’s desk tops, soon to be followed by this years laptops and in due course next years tablets…no reason why networked small scale energy supply is inherently less achievable or less efficient, it’s just a question of thinking about the issue differently…

April 2, 2013 8:50 am

A good topic, and the first two paragraphs below are very much what I have been saying in various threads here for a good while.

On the third one, is EU being used as meaning Europe, or Europe minus Russia…or? Norway not being i the EU

“This means both China and India are going to have to play an increasing role in their own energy security and get a whole lot more engaged in the ‘Middle East’

I don’t think we truly appreciate the magnitude of the strategic shift that US energy (near) independence will mean.

Or, the scale of dependence of the EU as a whole on imported natural gas, this rising to 49% by 2030, despite Norway”

April 2, 2013 9:07 am

Energy security and supply is massive issue which successive Labour and Troy governments have consistently failed to tackle.

If any of you are involved in Gods profession (Engineering) and read ‘Professional Engineer’, there’s not a month goes by where there is not some kind of article on energy security, supply or generation.

@GNB – “Clean” coal is really just “less dirty” coal. I agree that we should of invested in the technology when we had a chance, but it would only have been a stop gap.

No doubt that LNG will play a increasingly large part of the energy supply picture in the next few decades, but it doesn’t do much for our energy security situation.

My view is that the UK needs the following:

– A decent amount of Nuclear Power to provide the backbone of our base load capacity.

– Tidal / Offshore wind farms to contribute to the base load and provide a degree of decentralisation

– More energy storage systems to meet peak demand – LNG will provide this in the short term, but in the longer term expect this sort of thing to play a significant part:

– a connection to a European super grid, allowing us to tap into all those Solar farms in Spain and (eventually) North Africa.

April 2, 2013 9:39 am

I struggled to vote on the second question because I think “yes” for the short term, and “no” for the longer term… essentially I agree with Observer. Need to solve the “demand” or “supply” problem rather than buffer a peak… although I might be saying something different if I had to dig the Tilly out last week ;-)

My stance is that we need to both lower the demand and “own” the supply. This can be achieved in a number of ways with almost none of them being military. There should be a foundation level of energy production from renewables. This should serve the ambient national utilisation necessary for survival as an absolute minimum. On top of this we should buy in (or hopefully find here) gas, coal, oil, or any other fossil based fuel to provide for normal domestic and industrial use. Peak/emergency demand should then be supplemented by nuclear power.

I appreciate that turning a nuclear station on/off is difficult, so this is one of the first things I’d spend money on R&D.

April 2, 2013 10:36 am

Interesting piece I for one was not aware of the US becoming energy independant to me that’s a big deal. I assume they are also food independant. If you can do both of those from within your own border your view of the world changes somewhat. If we look to import energy from country around the Atlantic and western Med coasts then that can be no bad thing.

We should be looking to do something major in tidal power or indeed wood we have lots of both can we unlock its potential to diversify our supply. Also new construction domestic and commercial need to get energy efficient it will be a longer process in the uk.

April 2, 2013 1:11 pm

Unfortunately the more comments I read in this thread the more I start to see the usual fallacies of discussing energy policy creep in.

Those of you suggesting that a bit of R&D will solve issues like making small scale generation more efficient than large scale, and the ability to somehow make nuclear easier to switch on and off are missing some of the key limitations of the technology we’re talking about. Throwing money at the problem and hoping for a technical solution (like the suggestion above that we simply “find” more fossil fuels in our own backyard) are a combination of wishful thinking, short-termism, and clutching at stop gap problems.

Simply put, there is no easy fix for the problems we’re discussing, certainly nothing that can be summed up simply in a paragraph or two, and certainly without creating other problems or failing to acknowledge or solve other existing problems with energy policy.

For the record the energy sector, particularly in the UK, is an area i’ve studied academically in great detail, looking at exactly the kind of problems we’re discussing above. If there were solutions you could sum up in one paragraph they wouldn’t give you postgraduate degrees for it.

April 2, 2013 1:37 pm

Go nuclear.

Wow, another degree? What am I going to do with it?


We are no unaware of the shortcomings of the solutions Grim, however to take no action is to accept the conditions that cause the problem in the first place and any resulting consequences for it. Solutions may not be perfect, but any step towards improving the situation should be considered should it not? After all, if you are waiting for the perfect solution, you will be waiting till kingdom come, literally.

April 2, 2013 3:18 pm


I’d agree with your two word solution, unfortunately there are a raft of issues in the way that stop it from being that simple.

And my point was not to ignore trying to come up with solutions, but just to remember that any solution you come up with will have flaws or issues that need to be stated. And under no circumstances should you base assumptions on changes to technology that currently don’t exist, it rarely ends well! There are limitations to our technology that simply can’t be overcome at present, like the long lead in time for nuclear generation, or the inefficiencies of small generation types.

Plenty of decent suggestions floating about as a starting point though!

April 2, 2013 4:23 pm

The only thing I will add is both our approach to energy sourcing and usage efficiency has to be diverse. We need to use every club in the bag from Nuclear, fracking and even oil from FI etc.

April 2, 2013 4:26 pm


So what’s happened to the investigations into pelletised nuclear fuels?

Furthermore, you may have investigated UK Energy, but I seem to remember something about JET being somewhat of an investment in a nuclaar technology that can indeed by switched on/off at will… well once the plasma has been cooled ;-)

I don’t doubt that the reality of our energy problems is more complex than a few paragraphs but I can put money on the fact that if you want a solution you need to build the brains of today’s youth to solve the problem in the future… education, and that starts with a political will, and that starts with social pressure, and that starts with media, and that starts here… oh, and maybe twitter.

April 2, 2013 4:29 pm

Not sure if I’m 100% on this but I think the USA have been working on the premise that “buy and use everyone else’s energy until it becomes too expensive, then and only then, use our own”. I think too the Russians do much the same.

Maybe why we still haven’t tapped the two-million square kilometers of Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich?

April 2, 2013 5:38 pm


Admittedly not done much research in the area of pelletised fuels, but from what I understand that isn’t about being able to turn the reactor on and off on a whim, more about increasing thermal efficiency.

All fission reactors take a long time to reach cold shutdown, and turning them back on after that is not a quick process, you may be able to speed it up a bit by improving some of the involved technologies and cooling systems, but never enough to use in place of coal or gas fired stations that can increase generation rapidly from shutdown. Even the time it takes to bring coal or gas online means that either spare capacity is needed, or energy storage facilities.

As for JET (and any other fusion) the reality is that it is still decades from commercial use, the massive issues with the technology have still to be overcome in any meaningful way. The next generation (Gen 4) reactors that are being looked at seriously are more incremental upgrades to current reactor designs, or larger improvements of fission style technology.

April 2, 2013 6:41 pm

Very interesting article – a few points;

i) we have an artificial constraint on energy storage through local planning objections that have yet to be addressed. It’s really not a public expenditure issue but a planning and policy one. Just ask Halite Energy. There has been a good private sector business case – now getting better because of the induced volatility from a rising ratio of intermittent renewables and a new dash for gas – for more gas storage for years. OFGEM said in 2004 the UK would need 10 bcm of storage but then as now, we only have 4.5.

ii) The basic problem is that the current system has created a compound distortion – pricing in the externality of the cost of carbon dioxide on the climate, albeit very crudely with renewables and energy efficiency at great cost, and ignoring simultaneously the price of energy insecurity and what it will cost consumers. Over time, with limited resources available to the indebted utilities who can’t afford to do it all, this leads to an excess of intermittent renewables and a deficit of predictable baseload power from nuclear, interconnectors and cheap CCGTs supplied with gas from long-term gas contracts.

iii) No mention of UK shale gas potential? Don’t underestimate the ability of UK produced shale gas to surprise on the upside. It’s the biggest known resource in Europe. By the end of this decade it will be having a tangible impact in quantity and price.

April 2, 2013 6:42 pm

Following a quick look at the 2011 UK Energy Flow Chart…

Net In = 215 (excludes exported or bunkered energy)
Conversion losses = 65 (30%)
Net Out to industry, domestic and transport = 150

Figures are million tonnes of oil equivalent.

We import a total of about 113 of which we export or bunker 85 so you could say that in 2011 we actually only imported 28 (9%) that we didn’t simply convert and sell back to someone.

So of the 39% we either import (net) or lose, 30% is lost through conversion. We don’t really have an energy import problem. The bigger problem is conversion losses >>> nuclear and renewable electricity can remove quite a chunk of this.

April 2, 2013 7:34 pm

Simon, I think the conclusion you came to is the right one, RE the 2011 UK Energy Flow Chart…

But as supply and demand match (by chance?) within a quarter of a per cent, the whole thing has been calculated without quantifying gas/ crude/coal or product stocks (e.g. plastics)
… as we know, gas stocks are so miniscule that it would not make a difference (and the others, again by chance, unchanged?)

April 2, 2013 8:20 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

Thanks TD – another report on UK Shale Gas Potential was done by the Institute of Directors last September The point – which is made in some detail – is that even if UK Shale Gas costs the same as the imports, it’s still worth having for the jobs, taxes, balance of payments, energy security and regional economic growth benefits. Generally speaking, UK NBP prices are lower and have been for some years that gas prices on the continent. It’s only in cold winter spikes like this one when they are higher.

disgusted grange over sands
disgusted grange over sands
April 2, 2013 8:41 pm

For what is worth I was a Regional Grid Controller and spent some 40 years running gas making plant, and then control rooms.

The following webpage may be of interest it gives the operation of the National grid (gas) in real time .

It appears that at least one LNG tanker has discharged.

On the energy scene in general.

The sensible thing is as much diversity as possible , not only shale gas (and oil – used to be used for torpedoes!) but underground gasification (now better prospect than was if coal seams fractured) followed by CO2 removal and storage, more gas storage and possibly some SNG as seasonal load (again with CO2 removal), tidal energy (St Georges Channel?), Nuclear as base load ( with storage ) and hydrogen production when off peak, (Base loading should bring down unit cost as capital recovery better), all renewables to bear cost of storage and reduced utilisation of bulk transmission, biomass gasification including small scale e.g. at supermarkets gasifying waste food .
Gas turbines for peak lopping continue with the emergency peak shave diesel facilities.

But most of all if any subsidies to be paid then for – infrastructure e.g. CO2 recovery system . some electricity storage. and above all energy efficiency(including CHP )
Pay for R and D on fission, CO2 removal, and sensible technologies.

Finally what were economics of deep coal mining in the new economic environment? a brave man would now dig a hole to the immediate North of Morpeth and keep going north until all coal extracted and repeat on other fields!!!! Anything deep down gasify underground including offshore Ellington ??

My current hobby is looking at stationary wind generators off Barrow and on the fells

Apologies for rant – the Website above is very good during winter.

April 3, 2013 12:09 am


Unfortunately my areas of expertise are in the nuclear and renewables areas mainly, with small bits on CHP, Coal, Gas and transport uses. But i’m glad to chip in any way I can when you bring up a thread like this. Combines my two favourite things after all; energy and defence!

Just on the issue of your reply to Mar though: Building regs in the UK are utter crap in comparison to what the need to be in order to start meeting some sensible targets (and massively using that Gas being used for low-grade heating). Plenty of easy suggestions that new-builds could and should be using for minimal costs. Retrofitting to older properties is more difficult but there are always possibilities.

In regards to storage, short term yes we should build up our reserve capacity a bit, and begin looking at electricity storage needs much more seriously. Longer term (as in by 2030) we need to be seriously moving away from gas and into diverse electric supply and storage.

One major idea that “disgusted grange over sands” (awesome name btw) mentioned is using spare capacity for hydrogen production (for vehicle use mainly). A fantastic idea in my book, and much better and more workable than electric vehicle storage. The issue of course would be that this would require agreement and massive investment by the government, motor companies, fuel companies (BP, Shell, whoever else would be selling it), whoever would be producing it, and the energy companies with the spare capacity. Not an easy thing to get started!

April 3, 2013 12:33 am

TD, didn’t say more bunkerage was a bad thing, just that it doesn’t solve the problem in the long run. As for price volitility, unfortunately, bunkerage may not work very well there as price fluctuations are not really driven by supply and stock calculations, but by fear.

Grim, my personal favourites are pebble beds and Flouride Thorium. Pity the 2 are incompatible, small scale plug and play thorium reactors would help a lot in maintaining a base load as you could simply phase maintainence for specific modules without taking the whole thing offline.

April 3, 2013 1:06 am


Hit the nail on the head there mate.

On an unrelated note, I’m writing my Masters thesis on the viability (technical, economic and social) of Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors.

April 3, 2013 6:01 am

Grim, how bad is the radioactive gas production for Thorium? If I recall correctly, that was one of Thorium’s side products when heated.

April 3, 2013 6:08 pm


The issue with the side products of using Thorium is that there are many competing claims that seem to be floating about. I have a stack of research papers that I’m sifting through trying to find the relevant bits. Its one area I need to look at as I write my paper. But from what I currently know, byproducts are no worse than Uranium, and in many cases with LFTR designs, lessened in certain areas. Sorry I can’t be more specific right now, i’ve been going through an awful lot of varied papers on Thorium recently.

April 3, 2013 8:23 pm

Grim901 – if your writing your masters on LFTR I guess you know the “Energy from Thorium” site ?

Observer – there are no particularly bad by products from a Thorium reactor, whether that is a dry pebble bed, or some other “conventional” design. Any reactor that needs a pressurized vessel will have some radioactive gas in it somewhere, and because its at pressure it can leak out.

The beauty of the LFTR if (rather when) we can crack the high temperature salt chemistry and produce reactors / plans at commercially viable levels, is that you can “use up” Uranium as the “starter fuel” of the Thorium reactor – in simplistic language it “burns” more of the Uranium fuel, and leaves you with a less radio active (shorter half life) less toxic set of by-products that are not usable for A-bomb or H-bomb production.

Personally, I reckon until we crack Fusion then LFTR is the best hope for a nuclear future.

April 3, 2013 11:18 pm


Actually that site had slipped past me. Because its a masters I tend to have to focus on the academic journal literature as my source material and often miss useful (if obviously biased) sites like that.

What you say about the gases seems to make sense as well. Probably why i’ve not heard them mentioned really.

The idea is also that the Uranium feeder can also include some of the Plut. we have sat at Sellafield for reuse. And as far as I know most of the Chemistry has actually been solved, or has been demonstrated in isolation, rather than as part of a whole system of LFTR in operation. The Oak Ridge experiments cracked a lot, and other parts of the system have also been demonstrated.

One issue I would raise is that the lack of usable bomb material isn’t accurate. The U-233 created in the breeding is usable (8kg needed for a bomb, from about 1.5 tonnes Th) and could potentially be siphoned off using fairly simple chemical methods.

But I agree that LFTR tech. is our best bet as an interim over the next few decades. Not a permanent solution, but worthy of further investigation. Hence my research into economic and social viability as well to try and justify it.

As ever the TD commenters never cease to amaze me in terms of their well reasoned posts and subject knowledge, even topics well away from defence!

April 4, 2013 7:23 am

Interesting. What does 233 split into? I know 238 actually splits into Sodium and Chloride (yes, radioactive salt) but 233? Or does it have to be breed to 238 1st?

April 4, 2013 9:41 am

Sorry, ignore the last post, can only plead that I’m really not tracking very well at the moment, might be dengue. Results only on Monday.

April 4, 2013 4:12 pm

Only old nuclear plants are paying off; so you guys will see a hard time pushing investors for a nuclear renaissance. Obama offered over $120b, but there is simply no interest.

In Germany, there is even not enough interest to build LNG power plants. LNG is not competitive with renewable energy in 10 of 24 hours a day. And when it is, nobody needs electricity.

Then there is the question of heating. As it stands, our centralized generation system wastes a lot of heat energy while producing electricity. Neither nuclear, not renewables won’t solve this. If we could built thousands of smaller plants all over the country producing electricity AND heat, we would be better off. And you wouldn’t believe, what a current power generation station can burn to accomplish this.

Finally, we need a huge efficiency scheme. Common sense is, that around 40% of heating and 50% of electricity consumption may be saved with current tech.

I think, the future energy landscape will be domestic supply using small generation plants embedded in a European concurrent flow super-grid.

April 4, 2013 5:13 pm


Are you serious? Uk is going ahead with new build nuclear, as are off the top off my head (and not including the likes of everyone’s favourite bogeymen Iran and NorK) France, Finland, and on a MASSIVE scale; India and China. Germany is actually going against the current trend, with even Japan planning on coming back online slowly.

Germany is content to keep investing in renewables and be totally in the pocket of Russia for Gas for any shortfall in renewable capacity. Frankly i’d rather go for more expensive LNG short term and Nuclear/Renewable mid to long term rather than put a large proportions of my eggs in the basket of a man who spent most of his career trying to bring the West to its knees. Renewable certainly isn’t cheaper than gas in the UK at least anyway! Subsidies for Offshore Wind (our major source and aim for massive development) is going to be HIGHER than that for nuclear new build. This is something that is conveniently being ignored by many pro-renewable groups, who also seem to think prices for wind turbines will continue to drop like they have in the past despite now reaching full maturity in the technology.

As for small scale generation, massively inefficient. That is unavoidable as is the complete lack of economies of scale. I’ve seen numbers for things like small scale wind turbines and they’re not even worth the land they stand on generally. And how is you justify saying that national centralised generation is inefficient whilst suggesting using a European Supergrid to mitigate your other strategies, by using an EVEN MORE inefficient transmission over much greater distances. The technology simply isn’t there to make it more economical to transfer power from the likes of Spain and Greece to the UK when the wind isn’t blowing much/too much rather than simply diversifying supply in Britain.

Observer, you okay? Your last 2 comments imply some kind of minor breakdown? Sorry jokes. Happy to talk more about 233 and proliferation risks if you like.

April 5, 2013 5:25 am

I’ll be all right in a few days hopefully, though the spliting headache and fever is an irritating distraction.

Agreed on wind generation, it is massively inefficient, or rather, the scale of supply is not to the extent of powering entire national grids, which means that there will not be any extra power to transmit to other countries.

Problem with renewables is that they are all small scale, and their utility tends to taper off when it comes to national level energy demands. Diversification is all well and nice, but something is needed to generate a reliable baseload or you are going to get brownouts every time the wind dies down or clouds cover the sun.

April 5, 2013 9:15 am

Regarding Hitachi and UK generation, I’m surprised they’re not going with the Economic Simplified BWR. Anybody know why that is?

April 6, 2013 10:49 am

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is due to report on how much shale gas is under the country within weeks.
Sources close to the report say the current estimate of five trillion cubic feet is “almost certainly” due to be increased.
Dr Nick Riley, of the BGS, said: “We are sitting on potentially a massive resource, but whether we are able to extract it we do not know. We have to do the exploration and then we have to get the consent of the people.”

April 6, 2013 10:58 am

The British people face a simple choice, fracking, nuclear, and perhaps even coal in some form, or no Coronation Street, no heat, or cold food. I am sure at least the first will carry the issue for a majority. I don’t think green issues, global warming, or the EU can win out over a thrice weekly trip to Weatherfield. :)

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
April 6, 2013 11:40 am

The US and UK not the only ones looking at Shale Gas to save them:

April 8, 2013 7:15 am
April 9, 2013 6:19 am


The new nuclear plants will be 100 pounds per megawatt hour. This is strikingly far above the 60-80 pounds of current windmills.

In fact, on 10 hours per day, German wind energy is effectively for free at the Leipzig energy exchange.

France wants to draw nuclear back below the 50% mark.

April 15, 2013 5:19 pm

McZ, care to reference those numbers? Especially considering the negotiations between the UK govt and EDF have not yet finished i’m surprised you somehow have the figure that they are yet to decide on! I’d also like more information on which wind turbines you’re using for that figure.

In fact in the UK the price for Offshore Wind (which is to be our major source of wind power) is set to be fixed at £100 per MWh, where as the Nuclear fixing is estimated to be at around £95-97, so possibly slightly less, but that is yet to be finalised. Those figures are from a BBC article published in March. Any assertion that the prices for wind turbines will continue to fall as some have tried to argue are ignoring that the technology has also now reached maturity and have very few further savings to find.

As for your point on Germany, i’m not quite sure what you are trying to say there. As for France, I don’t have much knowledge of their energy policy currently. For what reason are they reducing and what are they replacing the power with?