High energy costs are due to lack of control

Gordon Murray
on : 
27th Oct 2015
Bulletin item expiry date: 
25th Dec 2015

Jim Sillars (‘Current energy policy is a grave handicap to ailing steel industry’ The National, October 23) uses Professor Hal Lewis’s resignation from the American Physical Society (APS) as evidence for his climate change denial. The APS immediately rejected Lewis’s views stating that  “in light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’s claim that global warming is a ‘scam’ and a pseudoscientific fraud”. The APS also rejected Lewis’s claim that it was benefiting financially from climate change funding that had “corrupted so many scientists” by stating that its members did not  benefit from such research support as most of its them do not work on climate science. 
Incidentally, Mr. Sillars, the resignation happened five years ago and is not a “recent” development in terms climate science development. As for no global temperature increase, Mr Sillars, let me remind you that the earth has warmed by almost 1°C since the 1880’s and that the warmest  fifteen years on record have all occurred since 1998.  All reputable scientists including The Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences supports the unequivocal evidence for anthropogenic global warming.
Mr. Sillars erroneously tries to make the case that the steel industry faces crippling energy costs that can be blamed on the renewables industry. He compares energy costs in Germany and France to that of the UK. Solar energy can meet half of Germany’s electricity demand not to mention the input of wind energy while it’s energy costs of £21.45/MW hour contrasts with the UK’s at £49.5/MW hour. France’s energy price of £27.14/MW hour is due mainly to the fact that it is mostly state controlled. Compare that to the index linked £93.5/MW hour we will pay for new nuclear much of the risk being underwritten by the British taxpayer. So, Mr Sillars, more fuel poverty on the way that could be avoided by supporting community owned renewable energy schemes. It is worth noting that The Committee on Climate Change reported that from 2004 to 2011 energy bills in the UK  went up by £360 on average but that only £30 of that was due to low-carbon generation. Most was caused by higher gas prices and network costs.
The reason our energy costs are so large have less to do with renewables and more with the lack of public control of basic services. Foreign and institutional investors take their cut. The Chinese get a return of 15% on the investment at Hinckley Point. In 2014 The Independent noted that £900m went from British household energy bills to foreign energy suppliers EDF and GDF. Iberdrola supplied £600m in dividends to private investors. Of course it is not just energy. Huge sections of our transport and utilities are also run by companies owned by European countries and as such that is where the dividends go, paid for by UK customers.
I am not surprised that Mr Sillars is ignorant  about climate science, however, for someone who has devoted much of his life to politics it is extraordinary that he has forgotten some basic politics. Come on Jim, you can do better than this.
Gordon Murray
Both published letters can be accessed here:
 Original letter by Jim Sillars: Current energy policy is a grave handicap to ailing steel industry
A shortened version of Gordon's reply: High energy costs are due to lack of control