LONDON, United Kingdom – Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has called for Britain to abandon is carbon targets, saying that renewable energy cannot help Britain meet its energy needs and only a combination of shale gas, Combined Heat and Power and more, smaller nuclear power plants can provide renewable energy for the foreseeable future in Britain.
Speaking to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London, Paterson also derided wind farms, saying that Britain’s wind energy policy is the “single most regressive policy we have seen in this country since the Sheriff of Nottingham,” calling it: “The coerced increase of electricity bills for people on low incomes to pay huge subsidies to wealthy landowners and rich investors.”
He added that it was “immensely costly, regressive and damaging to the environment”, and has had virtually no impact on carbon emissions.
Paterson also said that many of the forecasted effects of climate change have been “widely exaggerated”.
“The stopping of the Gulf Stream, the worsening of hurricanes, the retreat of Antarctic sea ice, the increase of malaria, the claim by UNEP that we would see 50m climate refugees before now – these were all predictions that proved wrong,” he said.
The former minister also slammed all current forms of renewable energy in the UK, saying they will never help Britain achieve “zero carbon” by 2050.
He was particularly scathing of offshore wind turbines, which he criticised for their “gigantic costs” and unreliability, saying: “There is a reason we are the world leader in this technology – no other country is quite so foolish as to plough so much public money into it.”
He also called solar power “an expensive red herring” and criticised biomass for not being zero carbon.
Paterson said that Britain should instead adopt shale gas, which has helped reduce emissions in America by displacing coal-fired generation, and has cut US gas prices to a third of their European level. He said that just 10 percent of shale from the Bowland basin, could meet Britain’s needs for decades.
He added that Combined Heat and Power could be a brilliant way to bring down energy bills, saying that new localised power plants could produce both energy and heat, with results from Massachusetts showing 40 percent of total energy can be from CHP.
The former Environment Secretary also went on to call for more nuclear power in the UK, saying that small nuclear reactors could be integrated with CHP. He said that while nuclear power is incredibly useful, there are simply not enough sites to build enough big reactors. Britain should instead therefore build more, smaller nuclear plants.
He said: “Small factory built nuclear plants, could be located closer, say within 20 to 40 miles, to users and provide a CHP function. Installed near urban areas, they can deliver electricity and power district heating schemes or, in industrial areas, provide a combination of electricity and process heat.”
Finallly, Paterson called for various domestic appliances, including refrigerators, to be fitted with sensors that can switch them off for short periods when they are not in use, which the former minister claimed could save as much as 1.2GW – equivalent to a large nuclear power plant.
Only a combination of these factors, he said, can help Britain “keep the lights on”.