By David Wright
IT IS the year 2050 and Britain, relentlessly driven by the governing Labour-Green coalition, has achieved Net Zero.
The nation is quite unrecognisable from the comfortable, well-fed country it was in the early part of the 21st century.
Massive wind turbines cover the landscape; the old ones built 25 years ago now knocked down and lying next to the new ones because it was uneconomic to remove them.
The whole country is covered in a dense spider’s web of power lines from the multitude of wind and solar farms miles from where the power is needed.
Offshore wind farms died ten years ago: it became impossible to maintain them because all the workboats were rusting in port with no fuel. Thousands of acres of formerly productive agricultural land are now solar farms with nothing but weeds growing beneath the panels.
Other forms of so-called zero carbon energy production failed to take off or were abandoned years ago.
Drax power station’s last two biofuel units (which produced more CO2 than the coal-fired units, but were laughably classed as carbon neutral by the eco-zealots on the grounds that new trees would grow to replace the wood pellet fuel) were shut down when the United States government, led by President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, stopped cargo ships from using fossil fuels.
Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C nuclear power stations came onstream just in time as the last of Britain’s previous generation nuclear plants reached the end of their lives. Small modular reactors (SMRs) pioneered by Rolls-Royce and GE Hitachi were subject to endless bickering over cost in Parliament and only six were built.
Green hydrogen was long considered the answer to fuelling transport but a pilot project in Hull consumed so much renewable electricity to make such a small quantity that diverting the power from households and what was left of businesses could not be justified.
This, coupled with the astronomical cost of compressing it, storing it, fitting high pressure tanks to vehicles and changing natural gas pipelines because hydrogen was more corrosive, resulted in the trial being ended after 18 months.
Eight giant so-called grid scale battery farms were built in the previous 20 years.
They were effective at stabilising the grid but when used to supply power during winter wind droughts went flat after a few minutes and then took weeks to trickle charge using the small amount of power that could be spared from users.
So the nation is suffering strict rationing of small amounts of intermittent electricity from renewables.
The £200billion HS2 white elephant stopped operating two years after its 2039 inauguration (ten years behind schedule) when not enough electricity was available to run it.
The operator tried a two-carriage version run by solar panels on its roofs but it slowed to a crawl when clouds came over or it went into a tunnel. Cars, for those who can afford them, can undertake only short journeys because although plenty of charging points are available and all the different connections were eventually standardised there is insufficient spare electricity at most times when people needed to charge.
Just outside Newcastle upon Tyne is a low-rise building where hundreds of technicians work in shifts on computer banks 24/7 allocating and distributing wind and solar electricity from where it is being generated at that moment to where it is needed but is cloudy or windless, and rationing households and businesses unilaterally by controlling their smart meters. This centre is named the Distributing Electricity At The Hub Centre (the DEATH Centre).
The RAF has been disbanded because none of its aircraft could fly. Likewise the Royal Navy after its last remaining nuclear submarines reached the end of their lives. The Army is reduced to a number of small infantry units scattered around Britain, mainly used to quell civil unrest.
Winter is harsh. Even those who were able to afford the cost of heat pumps found that below about 4 degrees C they are virtually useless. It has been estimated by the (unreformed) NHS that up to 100,000 people have frozen to death in their homes during each of the last six winters. Most of the victims are elderly, so this has solved the aged care problem and bed blocking in hospitals.
Hunger stalks the land: domestic food production has fallen by 90 per cent since the 2020s because there is no fertiliser, which was a product of oil and gas, and tractors cannot operate on batteries. Milk and all dairy products have long since disappeared as no farmer could risk even one day without electricity for his milking machines.
Crime is rampant, mostly robbery and theft at night of food and clothing, but shops and households don’t report them to the police because the crime divisions, now much smaller than the thought police divisions, cannot attend while their cars are on charge.
Many of the very wealthy have moved to India where for a fee of $200million per person they could obtain a permanent residence permit. Those smart enough to have hoarded enough aviation fuel flew out in their private jets; others had to wait for an Air India flight from Heathrow with its weird refuelling stops en route, because there was no fuel at Heathrow of course.
Some tried taking their super-yachts, but got only as far as Gibraltar before running out of fuel. The wealthy who stayed live in heavily guarded gated communities supplied by convoys of electric vans, also heavily guarded.
Food, clothing and other home essentials are supplied by Tesco and Amazon, the only retailers left. All foodstuffs come from Africa and non-foodstuffs from China, both categories coming to Britain on Chinese diesel-powered container ships.
Entertainment is mostly computer streaming of old movies and endless repeats. Sport consists of occasional local matches, away fixtures being limited by the range of the teams’ electric coaches. Holiday travel by air to sunshine destinations ceased years ago. A few can get to beaches but traffic crawls to the West Country would flatten car batteries long before destinations.
The overall picture of Net Zero Britain is the wealthy living comfortable but somewhat boring lifestyles while the middle and working classes, all much the same, go to bed at dusk and get up at dawn, struggle to put food on the table, keep warm in winter, and get around to see any relatives and friends.
Last year some brave person in parliament stood up and said: ‘Let’s build a coal-fired power station.’ But it was too late.
David Wright is a former Royal Navy engineer officer, then an expatriate senior manager in the Far East for many years before running his own business in the UK. He now lives in Australia.