Jim Armitage: Politicians put all eggs in one basket on energy

It's really little wonder fracking is such a big deal for our political leaders. Because they some years ago bet our energy future on the hissing stuff when deciding on the next generation of electricity power stations.

The decision has been made to focus on building generators using gas and, pretty much, gas alone.

Despite Nye Bevan's phrase on the economy that Britain is a lump of coal surrounded by fish, coal-fired stations are already closing – too dirty for us. The planning process for new nuclear has a half-life like plutonium (no politician wants cartoonists depicting them as Mr Burns from The Simpsons – hence the refusal to green-light new reactors). So, bar the pinprick that is renewables, gas is the only option.

Whether we were right to place our entire energy future in one source is a matter of debate (simple answer from me: we weren't).

But now we have made this choice, we must diversify where the next generation of gas comes from. Basically, that means a number of things. First, hug the next Norwegian you meet. Let them hunt a few more whales if they really want to. Norway will become ever more crucial to us as our main source of gas. Holland and Belgium, where the main interconnector pipes leave the Continent for Britain, will be pumping like billy-o in future decades.

Secondly, liquefied natural gas, natural gas compressed into liquid form for transport to our shores by ship, will become ever more important. We now have three major LNG terminals, giving us a decent capacity to take more, particularly from Qatar, our biggest supplier by far. Our major contract with the emirate is up for renewal in a couple of years and, given global demand for LNG, we should be braced for a hefty price rise. Watch how keen our leaders are to get friendly with the new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Also, see how we foster relations with other LNG nations in North Africa and the Caribbean. Last month we struck a deal with the recently gas-rich US to import LNG from Texas, too.

But, beside fracking, there's another potentially rich seam we must explore: coal gas. Far offshore, away from grumpy residents, lie thousands of hectares of coal which can be turned into gas.

The Coal Authority knows where it is and has done for decades. More than a dozen licences have been granted, and the oil industry veteran Algy Cluff, has won three of them. There's a rub, of course, and a big rub. Like fracking, we really have no idea whether they can safely extract the gas. But, as anyone who knows about minerals will tell you, if Algy's there, a bob or two's to be made.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
News
people
Life and Style
tech
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

IT Manager - Tolworth, Surrey - £40,000

£37000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Tolworth, Surrey - £40,...

Compliance Officer - Trading Firm - London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + excellent package & bonus expectations: Real Staff...

Senior Compliance Executive - Top Bank - London

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Real Staffing: A highly successful Co...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil