Surging energy prices leave British glasshouses empty

This may sound trivial on the face of it, however, it shows how difficult life could get very soon. The crisis in the Ukraine has the potential to affect much larger swathes in life. With energy price rises affecting us directly through heating and fuel costs, it’s also coming indirectly through food and transport. 

I’ve cherry picked a few points from the article.

High Energy Costs Means Crops Not Planted.

ROYDON, England, March 31 (Reuters) – In a small corner of south-east England, vast glasshouses stand empty, the soaring cost of energy preventing their owner from using heat to grow cucumbers for the British market.

Elsewhere in the country growers have also failed to plant peppers, aubergines and tomatoes after a surge in natural gas prices late last year was exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, making the crops economically unviable.

 The hit to UK farms, which need gas to counter the country’s inclement weather, is one of the myriad ways the energy crisis and invasion have hit food supplies around the world, with global grain production and edible oils also under threat.”

Montalbano, whose grandfather emigrated from Sicily in 1968 and started a nursery to provide local stores with fresh cucumbers, decided not to plant the first of the year’s three cycles in January.


Last year he paid 40-50 pence a therm for natural gas. Last week it was 2.25 pounds a therm, having briefly hit a record 8 pounds in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

Fertiliser prices have tripled versus last year, while the cost of carbon dioxide – used both to aid growing and in packaging – and hard-to-attain labour have also shot up.

“We are now in an unprecedented situation where the cost increases have far outstripped a grower’s ability to do anything about them,” said Jack Ward, head of British Growers.

It means a massive contraction for the industry, threatening Britain’s future food security, and further price rises for UK consumers already facing a bigger inflation hit than other countries in Europe following Brexit.

UK inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2% in February and is forecast to approach 9% in late 2022, contributing to the biggest fall in living standards since at least the 1950s.

Bill mentioned in another thread that there could well be a petrol/diesel shortage further down the line as fuel is diverted to the expeditionary forces lining up at the Russian borders. I’m not feeling very optimistic at the moment. 🙁


  • Comments (7)

    • 2

      Up here Chicken farmers are closing down as energy and food costs to raise chooks are so high they cannot make a profit any more.

    • 2

      OK apparently some of the mega greenhouse growers in europe are also saying they cannot afford heating fuel, fertiliser, pesticides etc and are not growing this season.

    • 4

      My personal feeling is we are seeing signs we’ve reached the high point of the fossil fueled era. Old fashioned “gushers” of oil and gas from vast underground reservoirs are long gone. Scraping the dregs requires intense industry that itself gobbles larger and larger portions of the very energy it produces. It has happened in the North Sea already I think.

      Simply put, you don’t need to “run out” to run short. Running short in the case of the master resource means scarcity on every front.

      No surprise that RU is attempting territorial expansion less than a year after it’s own ministry of energy declared it will likely never again exceed the amount of oil it produced in 2019. And it certainly won’t now.

      Prepare right now for short term inflation and shortage. But at the same time, consider how your life will change if energy becomes ever more expensive, food once agains becomes a prime concern, and perhaps even endangers your paycheck.

      This isn’t something we can use a gun on or don the BOB and walk away from.

      Sorry, I’m not feeling optimistic either.

      • 2

        I have been reading a few history books about the rise and fall of civilisations going back through Romans, Greeks, Persians, Minoans, Aztecs, Asyrians, etc etc. And the way they all start, grow, expand, peak, become ever more decadent or extreme / wasteful etc, Then the inevitable decline and collapse of those societies. In most cases only a few survive to build the next society.

        Then I read the papers and watch TV, check the blogosphere and think..   ‘ We have not got far to go before a massive collapse in western society arrives’.   its only my thoughts, but I cannot shake it that dark feeling. trouble is I’m an optimist by nature.

      • 3

        The current events sure can leave people with some worry and stress but trying to look at we can control vs what we can’t will help change that worry into optimism. Some ideas I had that we could work on:

        • Budget – figure out how we can cut out some of the ‘luxuries of life’ to meet the necessities of life
        • Garden – grow as much of your own food as you can and reduce how much you need to spend on raising prices for groceries
        • Travel less – cutting down one or two trips a month will add up. Combine trips and purchase more supplies and groceries less often.
        • Energy efficiency at home – wear more clothes around the house so you don’t have to have the thermostat so high. Lay out in front of a sunny window to warm yourself up rather than in the dark corner of the room.
      • 2

        I can get by on 99% of issues EXCEPT mobility,  I NEED a viable alternative form of transport available if society does take a major turn for the worse. But I cannot afford what I would like.   I’m actually suprised by just how interlinked my preps are to mobility.

      • 3

        I think you’re right Pops. It does seem like we are over the hump of the bell curve of oil and gas production and heading down the slope. 

        Bill speaks further of the rise and fall of civilisations and I can’t help thinking we are on the brink. Still not optimistic.