Stats for Socialists: Why the Tories will cost the Earth – in both ways.

Both candidates for Conservative leader, and therefore Prime Minister, oppose onshore wind and favour new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. This is motivated by the current increase in costs for oil and gas – which makes them expensive for consumers and profitable for producers.

The TUC released figures showing excess profits for UK based fossil fuel producers of £170 billion in the next two years. We could do an awful lot with a windfall tax on that. A rate of 56%, as currently used in Norway, would raise £90 billion. The projected prospective Norwegian rate of 78% more like £132 billion. And these are excess profits; so, taxing the lot wouldn’t be unreasonable, even for opponents of public ownership.

Even the lowest amount would pay for Labour’s proposed £26 billion investment to insulate our housing stock by 2035 three times over, with £12 billion left over to do the schools and hospitals too.

It is now 9 times more expensive to produce energy from gas than it is from renewables. But energy prices are set by the gas price. The EU is planning to cut that link so the cheaper energy from renewables can be reflected in prices. Keeping the link here in Brexit Britain would make energy here qualitatively more expensive than in the rest of Europe. The IMF reports that this is already the case.

Its hard to avoid the conclusion that the consensus resistance to insulation on the Right is because insulated homes reduce bills by reducing demand for an otherwise profitable product. And that would never do, would it?

It takes 28 years to bring new Oil and Gas fields on stream, compared to under two years for onshore wind and five for offshore.

Another way to put this is that we can have new onshore wind farms in operation by 2024.

Offshore wind projects starting now will come on stream in 2027.

New Oil and Gas fields given the go ahead now will take until 2050 – by which time we should have very little use for them if we want to survive.

Nuclear power plants take 7.5 years on average just to construct. Hinckley C is scheduled to take 9. The energy they produce is significantly more expensive than renewables. The government’s proposed Small Modular Reactors are even more expensive and not due to be rolled out until the 2030s.

Reports in the FT have indicated that new “agile” companies hoping to exploit North Seas fossil fuel reserves will bring them into production faster than has been the case hitherto. Which, presumably, is where the proposed scrapping of health, safety and environment regulations come in; so we can have a regime of deep sea oil drilling rigs as lightly regulated as the banks were before 2008.

What could possibly go wrong?

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