Power regulator Ofgem has issued a statement warning that “an unprecedented combination of events” has “increased the threat to consumers’ energy supplies”, with the possibility of power shortages and blackouts as early as 2015. A key factor is the closure of coal-fired power stations to conform to the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive.
Only two weeks ago, at the Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, UKIP’s Spokesman on Energy & Industry, Roger Helmer MEP, issued a similar warning — though citing 2020 as the likely date. The energy policy statement was entitled “Keeping the Lights On — How UKIP would prevent the impending electricity shortfall”. It drew attention to the closure of coal-fired power stations in deference to EU rules; to the planned end-of-life closure of much of the UK’s nuclear fleet; and to the fact that wind farms make a negligible contribution to electricity generation when the need for conventional back-up is properly accounted for.
Commenting on the Ofgem announcement, Helmer said “I am delighted that Ofgem is confirming our warning, and raising the profile of the issue. But I have to apologise. I was wrong. I said that the lights could go out by 2020, but Ofgem says that blackouts could occur as early as 2015”.
UKIP has repeatedly drawn attention to the work of Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, which shows that because renewables require fossil fuel back-up, and because that back-up necessarily runs inefficiently, the emissions savings achieved by wind are somewhere between trivial and zero. UKIP wants a policy that will deliver secure and affordable energy. Helmer calls for an end to renewables subsidies, and a new UK energy policy based firmly on gas, coal and nuclear.