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oil_rig3.png "An island of coal surrounded by fish - only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of both at the same time" - Aneurin Bevan, 1947

And Mr. Bevan knew nothing about the still to be found oil and gas!

UK Coal production has been steadily falling since 1914 due to de-industrialization and, more recently, by fuel substitution. However, there is still coal to be extracted and coal can give us part of our future energy security as it can also be imported from a wide variety of mostly friendly countries.

During the last three decades UK has squandered nearly its whole endowment of high quality hydrocarbons without saving cash or forward buying resources, as other more prudent countries have done. It is not generally known that there are still significant reserves of gas and oil in the North Sea – but these can only be recovered if we decide now to use the proven method of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) by CO2 injection before the installations are abandoned.  Once closed these offshore wells cannot be economically re-opened. EOR could be another source of UK energy security, jobs and internationally valuable technology innovation, for several decades ahead.

Nuclear fuels can also be sourced from a variety of friendly suppliers (and from our own nuclear residues) . DimWatt will investigate in depth whether British Nuclear Fuels really does carry a fuel stock “sufficient for 1000 years of nuclear operation”, as claimed anecdotally.

Natural gas is a wonderful fuel. It is clean, contains little carbon, the gas turbine equipment it can power is a cheap and fuel efficient form of large scale generation. For these reasons and above all because of its one-time “world-class” reserves, the UK rapidly became the World’s fourth-equal (with Japan) largest sovereign consumer of gas, after the USA, Russia and Iran. In recent years its consumption has remained more or less constant at around 82 - 84 million tons of oil equivalent (toe). Until 2004, it was even a net exporter. However, gas extraction has been in steep decline ever since and in 2009 imports will be close to half of consumption. By 2020, at this rate, nearly all gas consumed in UK will have to be imported.

DimWatt considers that it has been a colossal and unfortunate blunder to become so dependent on gas for heat and power at the very point where Britain’s own reserves are plummeting. For future supplies Britain must compete for its gas against other “world-class” importing consumers such as South Korea, Germany, France, China, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE etc. For this reason and our belief that global gas demand might soon not be met by affordable global supply, DimWatt will campaign against anymore licenses to build gas-fired stations, unless these are powered by the gasification of coal.

The UK’s wind resources are among the best in the world; no other current renewable comes even close in its potential to help us achieve more energy security. But for UK wind power to be relevant its development must be treated as a sober and pragmatic engineering project, not, as presently, a moral and educational crusade. The investment that will be needed to fund 6,000 huge offshore wind turbines, smoothing their intermittent power as it enters the national grid, providing balancing reserve as its output varies stochastically, building new long distance undersea connecting transmission lines and working out new ways to store electricity, will consume a huge percentage of Britain’s annual GDP - at a time when this, like its hydrocarbon resources, are also plummeting.

These truths are evident to alumni of DimWatt and are now emerging into the national consciousness. And so they should! secure and affordable energy is fundamental to our way of life and our continued ability to compete in the global marketplace .