Sunday, 20 March 2016

Government figures on energy consumption exaggerated - just as usual

Glance back to the Government's 'Energy Challenge' White Paper of 2006 which promoted the importance of having more nuclear power and you will see that the Government projected that between 2005 and 2015 electricity generation would increase by around 12 per cent. In reality - it has decreased by 13 per cent!, see page 93 and compare it with electricity supply (annual) tables at

But this is not unusual. Consistently UK governments ignore and underplay the importance of reducing energy consumption, and in their projections, having said a few soothing words about the importance of saving energy (to please our feminine side), revert to the 'real' world macho importance of increasing electricity generation. 

So we achieve energy reductions by hardly trying! Just imagine what could happen if we started our policies by out thinking of how to save our energy! Instead, now we're seeing an immense shift to please Rolls Royce and the male-dominated engineering lobby who want us to waste money on 'small nuclear reactors' (SMRs). Never mind that big ones can't even be delivered with massive support both sides of the English (-EDF) Channel or indeed that the only reason we got big ones in the first place is that building small ones was hopelessly uneconomic. 
Of course the vast and always unrealised projected increases in energy consumption have always been linked to promoting nuclear power. How else can they persuade people that renewable energy can't do the job properly!

There is a long history of this sort of thing. in 1976 the UK Government projected that UK annual energy consumption would increase to between 500 and 550 million tonnes of coal equivalent (tce) by the year 2000[i]. In fact it has never risen above 280 million tce. Then of course, the Government were not only promoting lots more nuclear power, they were promoting fast breeder reactors. These things never got to work properly and created an awful radioactive mess (Dounreay). Forgotten now, or never remembered by those who still say that 'fast reactors' are a 'new' technology.

As Andrew Warren, the Honorary President (and founder) of the Association for the Conservation of Energy has commented:

'For fifty years,  continuous improvements in the energy efficiency of technologies and buildings has led the most successful revolution in improving security in the entire energy market. So why on earth do our political leaders continue to  wilfully  pretend it just isn't happening?'

[i] Elliott, D., (1978) The Politics of Nuclear Power, London: Pluto Press, page 86

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