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02 December 2021

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Are we really ready for an energy crisis? Would it be so silly to suggest people try and save power?
Adrian Leopard 137

Are we really ready for an energy crisis? Would it be so silly to suggest people try and save power?

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Let’s hope this is not going to be a winter of lurching from crisis to crisis; it is certainly beginning to look like it

One of the things people have said time and again is that during the pandemic the government has always acted too late in taking remedial action.

Anyone listening to Kwasi Kwarteng on the television today could be forgiven for thinking that for all his protestations, the government really is not acting quickly enough to forestall the increasing energy crisis.

Clearly the UK is not responsible for the huge increase in the cost of gas this year and one wonders just what has brought this about but surely the government should be taking steps to do two things – one is to conserve energy and the other is to find other ways of producing it which could take the pressure off the gas supply. What the general public is going to feel is the incidence of energy companies going bust, of which there have now been nine recently, and this bringing about a transfer of consumers to new companies who of course will be charging more.

Ergo – up goes the cost of energy to the consumer and the price cap will be doing little to prevent that.

Where the price cap does not apply, there is going to be pressure on business which needs energy and if there is no way of stabilising the position, insolvencies could ensue.

We talked a bit about energy conservation just recently. Surely that is a good place to start. The point was made on television this morning that perhaps people could wear another pullover and turn the heating temperature down a couple of degrees. This suggestion was rather poo-pooed by Mr Kwarteng but surely every little saving is a contribution towards the bigger picture?

We have been told that recently an old coal fired power station was brought back into use. Well – what a decision to be faced with – short term increase in carbon emissions versus keeping the country going and avoiding another three day week perhaps. I cannot imagine anyone preferring not to keep the country going. The carbon emissions might be unpalatable but if needs must ……

What happened to good old nuclear energy? France produces a tremendous amount of its power that way. Of course we do have nuclear reactors but they are getting long in the tooth. Perhaps what is now required is some urgent new investment. The French are actually doing a bit of that for us – Hinckley Point C, plans for Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex. This is all very fine but will certainly not be in time for the resolution of the present crisis.

So why don’t get advice to start saving electricity? We use far more than we really need to. Street lighting, often a hot potato, could be reduced, especially on urban motorways. Perhaps as a short term measure, a reduction in the speed limit may help to contain the accidents which people will claim will be caused, but putting that aside, a reduction of speed to 60 mph would save a huge amount of fuel consumption as well.

It would be so easy for the government to say “save power where you can”. It doesn’t have to be communicated in panic mode but if they do not communicate it now it may be communicated in panic mode as the winter moves forward.

The inevitable outcome if government does delay in taking measures which later are seen to have been essential and could have been taken earlier will be that this government will get a reputation for being slow off the starting blocks in everything they do, except perhaps relaxing covid restrictions which they did perhaps prematurely in the end which is why we have new cases running at over a quarter of a million a week just now.

Adrian Leopard      10-10-21

Photo Mick Truyts

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