Coal-fired power plants are closing across Britain as they fail to meet European Union pollution requirements. March will see the closure of at least four coal plants, signaling another step toward a major energy crisis in Britain.
Why the closures at a time when energy is vital to the economy of the UK? EU law.
EU anti-pollution laws were set in place at the end of 2008. The laws stipulate that high-polluting power plants must close by 2015 or after 20,000 operating hours unless they fit greenhouse-gas-reducing equipment.
The equipment has not been fitted, so the closures are coming. The sites will not shut down at the 2015 deadline. Instead, they will close next month. The coal plants have been working hard since January 2008. Companies have been running flat-out to make the most of cheap coal to boost profits. The 20,000-hour limit has arrived.
German utility company rwe is set to close two UK-based power plants in March. It says they have hit the quota and are closing the doors. It is not alone. German utility E.ON will also be shutting down in March. Scottish Power’s Cockenzie coal plant will close at the end of the month. The companies meet every emission law that the UK stipulates, but EU laws rule supreme.
The days of cheap coal power are numbered in the British Isles. Now is the hour of natural gas. Expensive natural gas.
This is where Britain’s energy crisis starts to hit home. Up to this point, Britain’s use of natural gas has accounted for 30 percent of household energy costs. With the demise of coal power, that number is set to jump to 60 percent, according to industry regulator Ofgem’s chief executive, Alistair Buchanan.
Such a dramatic rise in cost of living is not out of the ordinary. It has already happened to Japan. But it will happen in Britain despite the fact that it has its own supply sources, which Japan lacked. Generators are being forced to run off expensive natural gas. Mark Todd, director of price comparison service Energyhelpline.com, said that 2013 will be the year of record-breaking bills. It is an expensive battle to keep lights on in Britain.
Lucy Darch, energy director at uSwitch.com, said Britain is “on the brink of an affordability crisis.”
While the coal stations have been working through the night using up their 20,000-hour limits, the government has more or less sat by and twiddled its thumbs. It has banked on new nuclear power stations, gas plants and renewable energy to boost supplies. Unfortunately, the nuclear power stations are in disarray after a number of firms have distanced themselves from such projects.
Renewable energy has not made any headway due to lack of funding, and gas plants are limited. Britain is finally waking up as the lights go out, and is left scrabbling about trying to find a new source of energy. The only option is to go to gas.
Ofgem has been warning Britain since 2009, but its claims were drowned out by the financial crisis. Now the energy crisis is looming over the nation. Britain needs the natural gas, and it needs it quickly.
To get natural gas, Britain must do battle on the international markets. The UK is not the only nation interested in natural gas. Many European nations are falling short of the EU emissions plan, and find themselves in need of gas. They are just the small fish though. Nations such as China are gobbling vast quantities of natural gas. The fear for Britain is that it will come out to buy and face two options: It will pay top dollar to ensure that some of the natural gas comes to it, or get nothing.
Mr. Buchanan said this will create a “double squeeze.” As Britain faces a shortage of coal plants, it will face a shortage of natural gas.
The British government has tried to minimize its energy costs by offering tax cuts to encourage home owners to make their homes more energy efficient. Unfortunately, the EU saw this move as a violation of European law, and took the UK to court. This means that Britain is being penalized for breaking EU law, and penalized for attempting to uphold it.
Some officials are calling for shale gas extraction, but analysts don’t expect any significant yields from that venture until 2020. There is no option but to pay the big bucks.
Tim Yeo, chairman of the Commons energy committee, said, “A lot of it depends on international gas prices over which we don’t have any control.” That is an understatement. Britain is at the mercy of the energy giants. It has been forced into energy reliance by EU regulation. It must battle China and the European conglomerate for what natural gas it can afford.
These factors highlight what Herbert W. Armstrong foretold and theTrumpet.com has long echoed. Columnist Ron Fraser wrote in the February 2000 Trumpet print edition, “Time and time again, Herbert Armstrong … pointed to news events that were leading to the inevitable rise of a European fascist federation, under the spiritual influence of the Vatican, which would rival and even overtake the U.S. and Britain commercially, economically and, ultimately, militarily. Prior to World War ii, Mr. Armstrong predicted this. During the heat of the Battle of Britain, he continued to forecast it. When Germany lay defeated, crushed to dust under the onslaught of the British Commonwealth and American forces, still he proclaimed the future resurrection of Germany to dominate a European combine that would be the final revival of the Holy Roman Empire” (emphasis added).
Watch as Britain struggles to keep the lights on while Germany rises as the next economic superpower, and then turns into a military superpower shortly thereafter. ▪