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Alistair McConnachie published Sovereignty from July 1999 to its 120th consecutive monthly issue in June 2009, and he continues to maintain this website.
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Sunday Telegraph
Blank Screens Loom Nearer Christopher Booker
2 November 2003

Last week several of the electricity generating companies issued a joint warning that Britain faced severe power cuts in the not-too-distant future. This brought a little nearer the time when people wake up to the energy crisis looming over this country -- just as the Government seems prepared to hand over control of energy policy to the European Union.

It was revealed that all our large coal-fired power stations are likely to be closed by the cost of complying with the EU's Large Combustion Plant directive. This comes on top of fears that, as North Sea gas runs out and the nuclear plants which provide 23 per cent of our electricity are closed, within seven years we shall be largely dependent on imported energy. Meanwhile the Government seems so hypnotised by its EU "renewables obligation" that it pins all its hopes on expensive and inefficient wind farms.

Last Monday, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Jack Straw was so keen to see the draft EU constitution agreed in time for December's summit in Rome that he raised no objection to the proposed "common energy policy", which will prevent us from making bilateral deals with countries such as Norway to ensure our energy supplies. Instead we shall be at the mercy of EU negotiators with no particular concern for British interests.

When those power cuts strike havoc at our computer-based economy, leaving us staring into blank screens in the dark, we shall certainly have a few more "benefits" of EU membership for which to thank Tony Blair.

The government are now irresponsibly and undemocratically imposing one particular means of electricity production -- very heavily subsidised, and about which its advocates have systematically lied or at best laundered the truth -- to the exclusion of others much more efficient and far less environmentally devastating.... such that one really has to wonder why.... might it be crony financial interests? ideological fanaticism? or an ulterior political and commercial motive to force this country into almost total dependence on external suppliers?
 for more on the grim reality of windfarms, see 
Paul Brown
A vision of Britain in 2020 :
Power Cuts and the 3-day Week
The Guardian
1 July 2003

Britain's homes could be without light and heat for long periods by 2020 with the government being forced to repeat the 1974 imposition of power cuts by rota, a doom-laden report by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) says today.

By then, 80% of the gas to fuel Britain's power stations and domestic central heating will be piped "from politically unstable countries thousands of miles away." Mechanical failure, sabotage and terrorist attack would lead to power cuts within days, the report says.

The society, established in 1818, says Britain will be at the end of a pipeline which passes through several other countries relying on imported gas.

David Anderson, chairman of ICE's energy board and author of the report said: "We will literally be at the end of the line which will start in Algeria, Iran and Russia, and pass through many gas-needy countries.

"It does not need much imagination to realise how vulnerable we will be. Even if there is merely a shortage rather than an interruption in the supply we will be the first to suffer."

Another problem is a lack of storage space for gas to give Britain a strategic reserve. Germany and France have 70 days supply for emergencies but the UK has less than 48 hours capacity.

This is not a problem when the UK is self-sufficient in gas but generators will need to start importing gas within three years. By 2020, 80% of all electricity will be generated from foreign gas supplies and "the lights would start to go out within hours if the supply was interrupted," said Mr Anderson.

Tom Foulkes, ICE's director general, said yesterday: "This country has been largely self-sufficient in electricity generation for the past 100 years. We have been able to ride through a succession of energy crises, such as oil in 1973, coal in the early 1980s and the self-inflicted petrol crisis of 2000. All of these had the potential to inflict serious economic damage, but this was largely avoided by the fuel mix and diversity available at the time. This is about to change dramatically".

Currently our generation mix for electricity is approximately 32% coal, 23% nuclear, 38% gas, 4% oil, with 3% others and renewables.

Emission constraints mean that the UK's coal-powered generating plants will close shortly after 2016 and only one nuclear power station will remain operational beyond 2020.

Mr Anderson said that, at present, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and wave can only provide a fraction of the total requirement and the government's failure to push these technologies meant that it was unlikely that the 10% target by 2010 would be achieved.

Gas was currently the only alternative and initially some supplies will come from Norway, but as demand across Europe exhausts supplies, Britain will be forced to source gas supplies from West Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet republics.

Mr Foulkes said: "If future gas supplies were interrupted, this country would have major difficulty in keeping the lights on. "Under current plans, with no gas, this country would have no electricity."

Mr Anderson added: "The government simply is not taking on board the generation mix that will be needed beyond 2020 if security of supply and meeting our environmental commitments are both to be achieved. A return to the blackouts that marked the three-day week and the country grinding to a halt are very real possibilities in less than 20 years time."

The report comes four months after the government's energy white paper claimed that future gas supplies were not a problem. This week the energy regulator Ofgem is considering an inquiry into interruption in the gas supply last week at 152 sites due to shortages.

Simon Skilling, head of UK strategy for Powergen, the electricity generator, said he had not seen the report but agreed with its conclusions. "It is feasible that by 2020 the lights could go out."

Nuclear electricity generation is now being shut down regardless of need. But also note that the already efficient and viable option of clean-burning total incineration is largely ignored by the government and the so-called "green" lobby -- they would prefer to force a recycling of waste to an extreme where the recycling process itself uses up far more resources than it salvages. That is not to be confused with voluntary recycling (which tends to work well) but instead is compulsory -- Stazi State stuff, with constant surveillance of the public and severe penalties for non-compliance. Considered along with their imposition of windmill-clusters in locations adverse to the ecology and public alike, and the proliferation of CCTV and speed-cameras such as have turned the once comparatively free British population into the most spied-upon in the world, it really does make one wonder about the real motivations and control-freakish psychology of those involved....
 for energy information, see 
Terry Macalister
Blackout Risk forces Nuclear Rethink The Guardian
22 October 2003

Planning minister argues that Kyoto targets will be missed without an energy policy u-turn

A government minister has made clear that nuclear power is back near the top of the energy agenda after the recent bout of electricity blackouts in Britain, mainland Europe and North America.

The comments from planning minister Lord Rooker come ahead of a report today saying the government is in danger of missing its targets to increase energy efficiency as part of its attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The new interest in the atomic power sector was spelled out in a parliamentary debate and has delighted a nuclear sector which looked all but doomed by a negative energy review last spring.

Answering a question from Lord Monro of Langholm calling for a halt to the construction of wind farms, Lord Rooker said: "Those who do not want fossil fuel generation must accept non-fossil generation which causes no pollution to the atmosphere - which could be wind farms, waves or even nuclear energy."

He added: "People cannot have it both ways. When people in this country put the light switch on in 20 or so years time, they expect the lights to go on, but they will not if we make the wrong decision now, and our generation will rightly get the blame."

The Nuclear Industry Association, which represents British Energy and others engaged in the atomic sector, said it was delighted to see the government was coming round to its way of thinking.

"The nuclear industry has always called for a sensible mix of electricity generating sources, including nuclear and renewables. As the only large scale greenhouse gas-free electricity source currently in the market, it is vital that nuclear power's output is maintained so the UK can meet its Kyoto commitments," said NIA chief executive Keith Parker.

The government's energy review did not completely close the door to nuclear but made clear that it would not be sanctioning a new generation of plants, at least for the time being.

That was a severe blow to an industry which had argued it needed to start planning immediately so it would be ready for the designs and capability to build modern plant as the present generation came to the end of their natural life cycle, between now and 2020.

Official publication of the white paper was preceded by the resignation of Norman Askew as chief executive of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.

This was seen as a signal that the nuclear industry had given up any hopes of a renaissance, even though the government said it would revisit the issue in 2006.

The last few months has brought a spate of power outages which have concentrated politicians' minds across the developed world on the important role played by energy.

The British government has promised to reduce carbon emissions at a time when renewable energy such as wind is struggling to establish itself as a credible industry.

New research from the University of East Anglia sponsored by Powergen argues that the government must do much more if it is to meet its goals in reducing carbon emissions through energy efficiency.

"Lord Rooker's comments only make public what was obvious at the Labour party conference and elsewhere recently. The government is terrified of the lights going out.

"It's probably not going to happen this winter, but Tony Blair and others are looking beyond a successful next election," said one industry expert.

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