Pumping frack dash, it’s a gas, gas, gas?
The selection of Liz Truss as the new UK Prime Minister at the start of the month was completely overshadowed by the death of Queen Elizabeth, but last week we got to see the first glimpse of the new regime. And it looks as if the fringe libertarian policy loons of 55 Tufton Street have taken over the asylum. Massive tax cuts funded 100% by borrowing? What could possibly go wrong? The notoriously left wing, snowflake currency markets for a start, with the pound collapsing to a low against the dollar not seen for decades.
Added to that were a number of pronouncements on fracking, supposedly to bring down the cost of energy. Fracking was all but ruled out in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto, so there is no democratic mandate for such a controversial policy. By complete coincidence, Liz Truss’s leadership campaign was partially funded by pro-fracking, pro-fossil fuel and climate change denying sources.
So how does the Government square this with Truss’s supposed commitment to Net Zero by 2050? By rolling out a series of classic specious arguments
Gas as a transition fuel to net zero. This may have made sense when we were burning coal, but coal is largely dead in the UK, so every £1 invested/used to incentivise gas if £1 you’re not investing in zero carbon technology. And every cubic metre of gas extracted means more temperature rises.
Domestic gas is greener than imported gas. Not really as the gas you would have imported will be burnt somewhere else, so overall, wherever you extract gas, you are adding the carbon in the atmosphere. More gas extracted equals more climate change.
Domestic gas will reduce fuel bills. Well, not according to a certain Kwasi Kwarteng writing in the Daily Mail in March:
First, the UK has no gas supply issues. And even if we lifted the fracking moratorium tomorrow, it would take up to a decade to extract sufficient volumes – and it would come at a high cost for communities and our precious countryside.
Second, no amount of shale gas from hundreds of wells dotted across rural England would be enough to lower the European price any time soon. And with the best will in the world, private companies are not going to sell the shale gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price. They are not charities, after all.
For those who don’t know, Mr Kwarteng has since been appointed Truss’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. Maybe he should have a word with his boss.
Hydrogen is the long term answer. While some are dismissing hydrogen as inefficient and expensive, I do think hydrogen will have to be part of the solution as much of the UK’s housing stock isn’t going to be suitable for heat pumps for decades to come. However, there is a tendency amongst those whose instincts are anti-change to put their faith in an immature technology to kick the can down the road. We simply don’t have the time not to embrace what we can today.
There are a couple of glimmers of sanity amongst all this nonsense – not least that the effective ban on onshore wind projects in England will be lifted. The idea that supposed free-marketeers would wrap the countries’ cheapest energy source in red tape was maybe one step too far down the Tufton Street rabbit hole.
Photo by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street – https://www.gov.uk/government/people/elizabeth-truss, OGL 3, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=123328145