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The war in Ukraine has made how we get our energy central to political debate. Of course, before Putin’s barbaric invasion, prices were already rising as the bounce back from the pandemic strained global supplies. But the crisis has highlighted our continental neighbours are sufficiently hooked on Russian oil and gas that the Kremlin assumed they would offer only token opposition to his invasion. As such, as well as introducing even greater instability into the global market, we are also forced to confront the issue of energy security.

That’s why Boris Johnson’s new energy strategy (expected on Thursday) is designed to outline Britain’s essential energy infrastructure for decades to come. Having been net energy importers for 18 years, this is an opportunity to end the embarrassing process of going cap in hand to the Saudi Arabians, the Americans, or even (horrifying as it is to say) the French whenever we want to cut prices or change suppliers.

Foremost in ministers’ minds must be avoiding the energy rationing currently being touted in Germany. The hope should be to aim for the same American energy independence that has made worrying about a Middle East oil shock one of the few areas where Joe Biden isn’t currently imitating Jimmy Carter.

But whilst all this may be beneficial for Britain’s longer-term energy security, it also raises questions about two more pressing political priorities: keeping prices down, and reaching Net Zero. Proponents of the latter may say that this push for energy security exactly aligns with their objectives. After all, who needs Saudi Arabia if you are already the Saudi Arabia of wind?

That seems somewhat less facetious when one points out onshore wind is the fastest way to increase domestic energy production and reduce bills ahead of the next election. Wind turbines can go up surprisingly quickly, especially if we liberalised planning laws.

Alas, as with any proposal that involves those NIMBY-terrifying words “liberalising” and “planning laws”, onshore wind won’t happen in a big way any time soon. Despite the reported support of Kwasi Kwarteng, opposition to them is great both within the Cabinet and across the parliamentary party. When Grant Shapps called them an “eyesore” on Sunday, he was voicing the natural prejudices of many a Home Counties Tory. Admittedly, that includes myself – as much as I long for energy security, I do think the things are bloody ugly.

There are also the twin problems of storage and what to do when the wind isn’t blowing. By some estimates (based on 2019 figures) we only have 38 minutes of storage for wind power. So when those big ugly turbines aren’t whirling around producing energy and murdering birds, we will still require other energy sources to have any hope of being independent.

Many in the party – and especially in the Net Zero Scrutiny Group – would point in the direction of fracking as an obvious solution. The debate is hot between those who believe it provides a fast and bountiful solution to Britain’s energy needs, and those who believe it is an over-hyped and costly rabbit hole that we should not venture down. Nevertheless, achieving our own version of the shale gas boom that has turned parts of America into a carbon-neutral remake of Dallas is an enticing prospect.

But as with onshore wind, the same problems of aesthetics and geography rear their heads. One may agree with me that a lot of the anti-fracking messaging out there is Greenpeace guff, but is has undoubtedly lodged itself in the minds of many voters.

And although Craig Mackinlay may have made a good stab here yesterday of highlighting how financial incentives can be used to encourage local residents to agree to fracking in their area, one has to imagine the moratorium on fracking that found its way into the 2019 manifesto has a good chance of being there in 2024. Voters in the North and Midlands just don’t want it – and the Tories need voters in the North and Midlands.

So that brings us to the option that it appears the Government has decided upon – nuclear. Despite the combined efforts of Chernobyl and Godzilla  to resurrect our worst atomic fears, it has the benefit of being popular – supported by the public by a margin of 22 percent, in the most recent polling – and not climate-dependent. Hence why the Prime Minister is reportedly planning to increase UK capacity to 24 GW by 2050, via up to two new large and several smaller new nuclear power stations.

The problem for ministers here is that that does not deliver falling bills for voters soon. And although voters may say they want more nuclear power stations when asked by pollsters, one suspects their answer may be rather different when they see concrete and metal monstrosities emerging in the distance.

Undoubtedly, nuclear has a large role to play in our long-term energy security – if the French can get 71 percent of their energy from nuclear power, why can’t we? – but its prominence in this week’s headlines does not reflect its ability to help those crying out for help with burgeoning bills right now.

Which brings us back to the reason for our current discussion. Energy bills are looking like doubling, and may be on track to triple or even quadruple by October. Already, the Government is being lambasted for not going further in helping voters. That it hasn’t has been down to the same department that has resisted this new energy strategy for weeks: the Treasury.

As the Chancellor made clear in the Spring Statement, there really is no money. Rising inflation and anaemic growth means higher debt repayments and a stagnant tax base. If Tories want tax cuts and spending on energy bill subsidies, spending elsewhere is going to have to be cut, or other taxes are going to have to rise. This is hardly an optimal situation for Number 11.

So despite all the recent talk over whether Rishi Sunak’s personal wealth means he cannot relate to ordinary voters, if anybody is going to be pulling their hair out at a shockingly high energy bill this October, it will be the Chancellor.