Forming rather unlikely partnership, coal firms and renewable firms have joined together to condemn Amber Rudd after her speech yesterday proclaimed gas production, including fracking, to represent the future of our country’s energy supply.
Rudd announced, in her speech, a plan to get rid of all coal plants in Britain by the year 2025, which would place us squarely at the front of the global pack on this score. However, celebration of this fact was swiftly curtailed when she announced that, rather than supporting green initiatives instead, the bulk of governmental efforts over the next few years would be supporting gas production and controversial shale fracking processes.
The support for gas fuelled power plants was, naturally, welcomed by gas producers, including iGas Energy, a fracking firm, who said that “we welcome today’s announcement that gas, of which 50% of our usage is currently imported, is central to our energy secure future as we transition to a lower carbon environment.”
Rudd’s plans to focus on gas are based, in part, on claims that unless her proposed reforms go through, we may be relying on imports for up to 75% of our gas supplies by the year 2030. She argued that our domestic gas stations have suffered of late due to trouble finding financing and that government subsidies are the only way to solve the issue.
This all comes after subsidies have already been slashed for solar plants and wind farms and has drawn strong criticism from renewable energy supplier Ecotricity’s boss Dale Vince.
“You have to pinch yourself when the government announces plans for another new subsidy for the fossil fuel industry – this time for gas-fired power stations – because they so recently said that renewable energy should stand on its own two feet” said Vince.
Amber Rudd’s support also extends to nuclear plants, something that Vince also disagrees with primarily because of the reasoning used behind the earlier cutting of renewable subsidies.
He said: “supporting nuclear energy, fracking and now new gas-fired power stations – while shutting down onshore wind and solar on cost grounds – shows how dishonest or how utterly incoherent the current government is.”
“It shows the Tories are not the party of business,” he said, “but the party of business as usual.”
An pervasive theme in Amber Rudd’s speech was the focus on ‘energy security’; on the need to make sure that, while we make the slow and steady transition toward a greener future, people in the UK do not find themselves at risk of going without power at any point. National Grid has already come under strong pressure to cope with demand for energy over the winter, running at one of the smallest margins for error (in terms of available energy versus energy used) in recent history.
E.On disagreed with Rudd’s strategy, saying “we firmly believe that coal-fired power stations, which meet rightly rigorous UK and European standards, should remain an important part of the UK’s energy mix.” They argue that maintaining coal as a key part of our country’s energy production program will “help ensure the lights stay on and we all meet the energy challenge head on as we move to a carbon free future.”
Another firm who suffered following Rudd’s speech was Drax, who recently began converting their current coal power generators into biomass. Their shares fell by 3.8% after Rudd failed to mention biomass at all during her address.