Today I have discovered a hack who is more shameless than Quentin Letts (let’s not), Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, Simon “Enoch was right” Heffer and any of their colleagues at the Daily Mail and Maily Telegraph: step forward Rowena Mason, who has penned the ridiculously titled article “Wind farms to increase energy bills by £178 a year”. Because they won’t, and she says so herself.
Not actually guilty, m'Lud
She does? Ho yus. Just look at the sub-heading: “Energy bills are poised to rise by up to £178 a year under a deal struck between George Osborne and the Liberal Democrats to pay for a series of wind farms and nuclear power stations”. And as we all know, the phrase “up to” includes the figure zero. Oh, and what was that little detail tacked on the end about nuclear power stations?
But first, the numbers: “Energy bills have more than doubled since 2004 to more than £1,300 a year per household, largely due to rising gas prices. Bills will go up over the next two decades by an estimated £178 a year under all the Government’s green and fuel poverty policies, with the contribution to nuclear and renewables making up £95 by 2020”. Ms Mason should be working at the Express.
So if the contribution to renewables, and the nuclear cost, are equivalent, that makes them both £47.50 by 2020, or around 25% of the figure claimed in the headline. And with each new nuclear reactor coming in at around £7 billion at today’s figures, coupled to the proposal to build at least ten of them that has already been floated, you can see where most of that £95 is going to go (not on wind power).
But why hasn’t any new nuclear capacity already been started, given that Sizewell B was completed in the early 1990s and first generation Magnox stations have been shutting down their reactors in the intervening period (one reactor at Wylfa, the last Magnox plant to be completed, is still running, but will be shut down for good in 2014)? Ah well. The market somehow did not provide.
This is what the Telegraph, and all the other right leaning, libertarian and free market supporting enthusiasts will not tell you. Nuclear programmes such as that in France have gone ahead because successive Governments have stood behind them. The UK’s nuclear stations only got built because the then CEGB was a nationalised undertaking. The private sector will no longer take the risk with nuclear power.
Left to its own devices and shorter-term goals, the market has provided lots of gas fired power stations that will become increasingly expensive to fuel (and before anyone shouts “shale gas”, let’s see it properly costed, rather than the usual hectoring hot air). Where that has left the UK is with another case of “If I wanted to get there, I wouldn’t start from here”.
But Rowena Mason would rather tell her readers fairytales about windmills instead.