All the power but no energy

One of the advantages of Brexit was, according to Johnson, that we could abolish VAT on energy bills.

Of course we’ve never seen any mention of it since, and now amid spiralling gas prices and allegedly failing wind speeds, and of course a fire in Kent affecting supply of nuclear powered electricity in France – there is an energy crisis. It is not helped that Brexit was also marked by the departure of the UK from the EU’s IEM (Internal Energy Market) – but that is not a cause of the crisis – it just, pointlessly, helps to make things a bit more difficult for power companies.

Personally, my energy supplier has already gone bust so I have in the last few days been welcomed into the warm embrace of the woeful British Gas, who are supplying at the same prices as the Offgen cap.

More importantly, American owned UK fertilizer producers (which, if I understand correctly is all of them) have given up production of always energy intensive, fertiliser.

Many would say – including me – that it is time to give up on chemical fertiliser anyway and concentrate on mixed farming, completing the growing cycle with animal manure. This avoids the fertiliser effects of thinning soil structure and facilitating soil erosion.

But it transpires that many if not most abattoirs use CO2 as a gas to stun animals before slaughter and this is a bi-product of fertliser production.

Time, surely, for the brewers to capture their waste CO2 – though I’ve seen it suggested that most of the larger ones need all the CO2 they can get to produce those (what I regard as terrible) wonderfully fine foamy ‘heads’ on their lagers and stouts. To me, if people want really frothy beer it could just come out of a bottle.

CO2 is also used in food packaging as a gas flush to extend shelf life.

Nitrogen or less packaging – or indeed shorter shelf life – would be the alternatives.

Lastly, CO2 is used in fizzy soft drinks, which, if they now disappeared, would be the best possible bi-product of this crisis.

I then see that there are fears that so many small energy suppliers may go out of business that the large companies, because of the Offgen price cap, may have to make losses in taking them on and so may need government ‘encouragement’.

Partial nationalisation in other words.

Yes, our government is the ultimate insurance company – at least for business and the banks.

But not so far, for the people, it seems.

The Spanish have simply subsidised energy prices so people can afford them but for the Tories that will never do – the subsidy is, as for the railways, always preferably to be paid closer to those already in power, and so certainly not the public who actually elect them – simply their commercial friends and paymasters.

And that, we see, is what they mean by the free market…


  1. Steve -

    “To me, if people want really frothy beer it could just come out of a bottle.”

    In which you’d need the same level of soluble CO2.

    Not quite sure what point you’re trying to make here.

  2. Peter May -

    Agreed but as it is produced during the brewing process if you add yeast at the right moment and put the bottle cap on you’ve bottled naturally occurring CO2!

    1. Steve -

      Secondary fermentation has many side issues and isn’t going to cut it for a crystal-clear filtered lager, nor modern craft beers which rely on removing yeast for shelf stability.

      Nitrogenation is an interesting future, however, for some beer styles. Siren have been experimenting with this method and it is outstanding for stouts.

      1. Peter May -

        This is turning into a beer conversation!
        I broadly agree.
        But if beer is broadly a natural product then crystal-clear filtered lager will just have to declare it is dependent on the the production of fertiliser!
        Not, I would think, a great marketing plan.
        Or – switch to nitrogen.
        Which again, if declared, seems, marketing wise, a bit ‘unnatural’…

  3. Graham -

    I used to brew Boots real beer – I’m not a great beer drinker, but it was excellent and naturally carbonated.

    1. Peter May -


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