Power to the People ….But from Where, When and How ?

It nevers rains but it pours

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Alexander Pope (1688-1744) collaborated on an essay entitled ‘It Cannot Rain But It Pours.’ 

It doesn’t actually do that anymore, rain that is …(he says as he looks through the window and sees it chucking it down). When the Black Eye Peas wrote the song (2009) ‘Power to the People’ they did not envisage the scenario we are all facing today. Well, that is also a little inaccurate, in so far as huge swathes of populations throughout Europe feel disenfranchised politically. This is about the whole issue of energy. There goes another small error, I could not possibly talk about the Whole issue, just what effects our businesses, and the ecosystems surrounding them. Even that’s a squeeze in a thousand words.

Within the last week a number of European states have announced packages to support their populations. The UK has announced a price freeze for two years (6 months so far for businesses). All of this is ok but what has got unnoticed is the issue of whether there is enough energy to keep the lights and heating on all winter. Again, in the UK it has gone very quiet as we have a couple of other Power changes, a New PM and New King. Which has mean that the real issues of power and energy have been replaced by headlines over titular Power.

Whilst I don’t have any insider knowledge, I suspect that the concerns about lack of power are slightly overplayed. That said the policy of capping the price increases of gas and electricity is not going to encourage the judicious use of the energy that we do have. I, unfortunately, come from a generation that experienced the Three Day Week in the UK in the early ’70s. For those who don’t know this was to conserve energy as there was a coal miners’ strike.

Queues at a Bakers 1974 during the 3-day week

The immediate impact within our industry (Party) was that all our customers doubled their normal requirements. It was absolutely bonkers. There were no concerns about shrinking demand but there were huge concerns about shrinking supply. Whilst there is no direct comparison, we are just emerging from a period supply issues, to, once again, the possibility of supply issues. Having experienced a number of pretty severe recessions, I know that the Party market is very resilient. Even if the lights go out people will have parties. More to the point, if the lights go out, they are more likely to have parties. Furthermore, if they can’t afford to go out, they will have parties. Very little of what we all sell, requires any source of power, apart from personal energy in throwing a party.

What has diverted my intention from when I started on this post is the other Power factor that of power by our governing bodies. The UK has just experienced a very unique set of circumstances and Brand-New Head of Government, arrived at by a (very loose) democratic vote and a Brand-New Head of State, arrived through dint of birth. The consequence is a Power vacuum or rather Power inertia for ten days. A large number of Civil servants have been withdrawn from political offices in order to manage the proceedings following the Monarch’s death and Parliament is de-activated in order that the Coffin can lie in state within Parliament and all political activity stops during the period of Official Mourning. Meanwhile the Government’s Bill concerning the energy support programme goes through with little detail and no opportunity to be questioned. None of this is anyone’s fault in particular but it is the result of a system that perhaps needs further investigation.

All of which begs the question facing the UK population, which at the moment, probably does not want to ask, is where all the energy is coming from to power up numerous Royal Castles, Windsor, Balmoral, Sandringham, St James Palace, Holyrood Palace, Buckingham Palace to name but a few (there are 23 Royal Residences). Any one of which would be bigger enough to house the entire Royal Family as opposed to one small part i.e. King and his Consort. A particularly difficult question for the new King as he so dedicated to Climate Change and the environment.


Despite the eye-watering costs, the Queen’s residences have already begun looking for greener alternatives including energy-efficient LED lighting and using hydroelectric power from the River Thames. The research has been released by price comparison website Uswitch.com, with its calculations based on the assumption that the properties in question are running on domestic tariffs. Buckingham Palace, with its 775 rooms, 77,000 square metres of floor space and swimming pool is estimated to be the most expensive royal residence in the UK, costing £1.1million a year to power. Express March 2021 -obviously remove The Queen and replace with the King. And, of course these will be at 2021 prices.

What is the difference between Power and Energy

When work is done on an object, energy is transferred. The rate at which this energy is transferred is called power. So the more powerful a device is, the more energy it will transfer each second.

This all jolly interesting but to all of us wondering where our energy comes from this coming winter, not especially relevant. At this point in time nobody seems to want/able to tell us. In the UK the Powers to be haven’t got the time as they are too involved in ensuring that another level of Power, that perhaps we had all much underestimated has the energy to remain in power. The latter maybe titular on the surface, but the events of the last week suggest that perhaps it runs deeper and is more complex than we had imagined.

So, because of Government, proposals, we have an idea of what it will cost, we know that the energy will come from some sort of Power Station, but we don’t know if there will be enough. But what we don’t know is where the real Stations of Power are and at what Cost they come…

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