The UK's renewable energy is a national shame

Crime & Security, Geopolitics, Money, Sustainability

Here’s some figures for renewable power generation in 2006:

  • 62.9% – Austria
  • 48.7% – Sweden
  • 29.9% – Portugal
  • 17.1% – Slovak Republic
  • 19.2% – Romania
  • 17% – Denmark
  • 12.4% – France
  • 4.6% – UK

In November 2009, Spain generated 53% of its demand from wind alone last week (it was a bit windy). So if you’re from the UK, be embarrassed: we’re getting our bottoms kicked by Hans, Abba and the Siesta Monkeys.

Since so little seems to influence peoples’ thinking about energy and the environment, I wonder if world cup style national pride could be leveraged to get some action here? The protests about petrol prices would be that much more potent if the protesters were aware that José Siesta and Pierre Le Grenouille were loading up their electric cars for a quarter of the price, whilst also benefiting from much cleaner air, having to work less since they’re paying less, and generally being far better served by their governments.

There’s also the angle that the UK seems to be slated to have a lot of nuclear. All this is planned by EDF, a French company. Nuclear, as we know, has astronomical decommissioning costs which are never budgeted for so are not fairly compared to renewables whose decommissioning costs are tiny. So it’s not a massive leap – certainly one the Daily Mail would be adept at – to suspect that France is deliberately hobbling the UK with nuclear, whilst also increasing its own competitive advantage by investing in wind power.

If energy prices effect where industry locates in the free market of Europe, shouldn’t we be treating this as a national economic welfare issue?

So ‘competitiveness’ and ’employment levels’ join national security, economy, and ethics and morality as reasons to invest every penny we have in renewable energy generation.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you have low-cost, clean energy almost every other problem vanishes.

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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