Energy independence; we must strive for as much of it as we can achieve

One of the most vulnerable parts of a developed society is the supply of energy. If the supply of energy is disturbed, interrupted or even threatened society has to make rapid adjustments many of which result in suffering and loss of prosperity.

We have seen how a war in theMiddle Eastforty years ago sent oil prices sky high and caused a massive change. A few years later the coal miners ofBritainwent on strike which led to a three day week and energy rationing until the strike ended mainly by attrition. Later there was more unrest as mines started closing which the miners opposed. There was more unrest and strife. There have been many similar incidents all over the world which shows just how dependent we are on fuel, almost wholly fossil fuel, to carry on with what we have come to expect as our daily lives.

The latest threat comes from those who drive the petrol and diesel tankers that feed theUnited Kingdom’s petrol stations. Most petrol stations need deliveries of fuel every three or four days. Some busy ones take four deliveries a day. The tanker drivers have voted to strike, after a ballot organised by their trade union, Unite. The drivers want more money (who doesn’t?) and better working conditions.  They earn on average £45,000 a year.

The government has told people not to panic, but stock up on fuel for their vehicles. Long queues are already forming outside garages as people panic and stock up on fuel. All this is happening at a time when petrol and diesel pump prices are at a record high, and oil prices look set to rise.

It all shows just how fragile any nation is when it comes to energy. What has today happened to fuel for vehicles could happen just as easily to coal, natural gas and heating oil. Everyone has been talking about energy independence for decades but there are few measures to secure it. There are very few stockpiles of natural gas, compared with many European nations, so the gas tap may be turned off as easily and petrol supplies can be disrupted.

There is no magic wand that anyone can wave to solve the problem of energy independence. We cannot as a small highly developed nation with limited supplies of fossil fuel (which are finite) get ourselves self sustaining and free from energy suppliers. However we can mitigate the impact of being subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune by doing what we can to generate our own energy, whenever we can. A good starting point is solar water heating, which will give some measure of independence of supply – not a full measure but when a man is hungry half a loaf is better than no bread, and we ought to remember that.

5 Responses

  1. The discovery of North Sea Gas led millions to install central heating. It was ‘de rigeur’ in newly built houses. Coal deliveries died out. Gas power stations became (relatively) clean burning. Heating your house was simple and clean. Unfortunately, it didn’t last.

    Now we realise that North Sea Gas was a ‘one off’ and because few houses are built with any other heating option, many are trapped into paying whatever Russia, Libya or Norway dictates, or go cold.

    The misguided government ‘green’ energy policy sees windmills and PV as the future but can we heat all our buildings, drive our cars and lorries, make steel, etc all from (so called) renewable energy?

    In a word, no.

    So, we are going to be be forced to to use shale gas simply because it will be cheaper and ‘ours’ The only other option will be shivering, that is unless you have solar water heating, in which case you can spend your winter evenings in the bath!

  2. It seems we haven’t got nuclear now as the German and French power companies have pulled out of Horizon.

    Should I stock up on jumpers and candles?

    Sorry, didn’t want to start a panic, perhaps we should only top up the candles if they are half burnt! For safety sake please don’t keep more than one box of candles in your garage.

  3. […] Power EnergyRobert Kyriakides’s Weblog […]

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