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June, 2008


The UK government plans a Green Energy Strategy: as ever we are sceptical.

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  The promised UK strategy paper should be published anytime now but we have seen a preview courtesy of John Vidal, reporting in the Guardian ("Revealed: UK's blueprint for a green revolution" 21 June 2008). There are undoubtedly some good ideas proposed but we remain sceptical because of the lack of the right qualities displayed by our men and women who wield the power. Ever since Winston Churchill pigeon-holed engineers as a group who should be "on tap, not on top" we have felt that a large part of the wealth of the country would remain lost. Then there was Margaret Thatcher who contributed to the destruction of the manufacturing element in our society. They were notable personalities but the core of our politicians remain steeped in the same ethos.
    Our putative leaders are mainly political schemers by nature and drawn from a stratum of society which majors in lawyers, accountants, religious zealots and business hawks but lacks any significant content of engineers, scientists, mathematicians and humanists. We are constantly faced with examples of devious profiteering by the few who clearly do not see themselves as serving the nation but vice versa. Many have atypical elitist educations gained in institutions which must have left many of them emotionally and spiritually scarred. In short there are very few that we could refer to as 'the good guys'. It doesn't have to be that way; other countries have got their fingers on the pulse and they are the ones who are achieving green results. What is more their electorate respect them for it.
    One proposal, in the strategy, is to force people to improve energy efficiency when renovating. That is laudable but recent history indicates that forcing people to do anything requires more courage and diplomacy than is usually displayed. We expect back-downs in implementing such a policy. Another very desirable proposition is to provide new loans, grants and incentives for businesses and households. If only that could be successfully managed we would applaud from the roof tops. However, if recent attempts to incentives people are anything to go by, then the implementation is likely to be a dismal failure.
    There are other anodyne proposals including increasing offshore wind generation, expanding biomass crops and boiler replacements, but these are established technologies and although it is right to expand them, there is nothing radical there. In the context of the oil crisis Gordon Brown is quoted as saying that "the world is going to have to build 1,000 nuclear power stations". Actually he is wrong, nobody HAS TO build nuclear power stations but why he should presume to know this appalls us, it is just a symptom of his ignorant, blinkered approach.
    Picking out a couple of sensible proposals our PM says "we shall see large investments in Britain in solar .... and wave power .... ". OK Gordon and what guidance will you seek as to what is to be done, and how much will you allocate to those aims? We don't have much faith that you know what you are talking about. Then what about other things not highlighted such as (many of) the newer technologies, conservation, widespread efficiency measures, developing UK expertise, encouraging UK manufacturing and fostering international collaboration, to mention just a few?
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Originated: 18 December , 2007,  Last amended: 7 May, 2013