Photo: Public Domain
Photo: Public Domain

Dave Carr, East London Socialist Party

Having bunged mega-profitable energy supply companies £150 billion, newly anointed prime minister Liz Truss also intends to approve more gas and oil extraction contracts, including lifting the moratorium on environmentally toxic ‘fracking’. This is part of the Tory government’s ‘future energy security’ strategy being overseen by business secretary and fossil fuel fan, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Cutting demand

Recently, on Radio 4, a former Ofgem spokesperson (the supposed energy industry regulator) said: ‘The public should use less energy’. As if we are the cause of the cost-of-living crisis!

In fact, gas usage in the UK has actually fallen. Between 2001-2010, the UK consumed 96 billion cubic feet of gas per year. Since 2011, this figure has been 78 billion.

An effective way to massively reduce household and workplace energy consumption would be through a national insulation and energy efficiency programme. However, under the Tories, home insulation has declined by a staggering 85% in the last decade. While axing insulation subsidies, they gave tax breaks to highly profitable oil and gas extraction companies.

The construction industry says homes, workplaces and public buildings could be insulated at an estimated cost of £5 billion over four years, cutting energy bills and creating 100,000 jobs. Other measures could include a rolling programme to replace gas boilers with heat pumps.

But according to climate action group Possible, under current Tory plans it would take 700 years to refurbish homes in Britain for low-carbon heating!

‘Energy security’

As to ‘energy security’, the bulk of imported gas currently comes from North Sea fields in UK and Norwegian waters. Less than 5% comes via Russia.

However, since British Gas was privatised by the Thatcher government in 1986, giant energy companies have exported gas supplies to the rest of Europe for profit. For instance, in 2021, these exports amounted to 31,975 gigawatt hours’ worth of gas (1 gigawatt hour is enough to power one million UK homes for an hour).

North Sea gas yields are declining, but building a new onshore wind farm is nine times cheaper than running an existing gas-fired power station.

However, in 2015, then Tory PM David Cameron banned new onshore wind farms.

Nuclear nonsense

Ex-PM Johnson’s parting gift to the nation was to commit billions of pounds of public funds to build new nuclear power stations (see ‘Nuclear power: Government invests in privatised power plant’ at

Going nuclear for future energy needs is the worst possible option. It takes decades to plan, design and build a new nuclear reactor, and then its operational lifespan is a mere ten years, assuming it works.

In contrast, onshore wind farms can be up and running in just 12 months. Moreover, the cost of electricity from nuclear is more than double that of onshore wind power.

Nationalise energy for green investment

The best alternative to fossil fuels is not expensive and toxic nuclear power, but massive investment in green renewables such as wind, solar and wave power – along with a nationwide programme of home and workplace insulation and other energy efficiency measures. Such a green energy programme will not voluntarily happen under profit-driven capitalism. Instead, it requires public ownership of ‘big energy’, as part of a democratic plan of production – a democratic socialist system.