The current rate of growth of renewable energy in the UK is too slow to meet EU targets for 15 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources like by 2020, the energy secretary Chris Huhne has admitted.
This is the fault of governments, who have only ever looked to the short term. Previously, I’ve linked to this recent piece of research on the potential of offshore wind power in the UK. It is compiled by The Offshore Valuation Group, “an informal collaboration of government and industry organisations”.
Let us be clear about this: it’s an incredibly enlightening study. If Britain was to harness a mere 29% of the practical offshore energy potential we would have – that’s with existing technology and all the possible constraints considered – according to finds of the study:
• the electricity equivalent of 1 billion barrels of oil could be generated annually, matching North Sea oil and gas production and making Britain a net electricity exporter;
• carbon dioxide reductions of 1.1 billion tonnes would be achieved by the UK between 2010 and 2050 – a major contribution towards 2050 climate targets;
• 145,000 new UK jobs could be created by industry.
All of this is based on conservative estimates. There are a whole host of other benefits, such as the turbines acting as artificial reefs. And yesterday I was delighted to see this article in the Guardian:
British, American and Norwegian engineers are in a race to design and build the holy grail of wind turbines – giant, 10MW offshore machines twice the size and power of anything seen before – that could transform the global energy market because of their economies of scale.
So the impetus is clearly there. In the rush to reduce the impact of manmade global warming this can’t be ignored. You may choose to disagree with this and the opinion of the vast majority of the world’s scientists. In the wider picture, given this potential, wind has got to be better than nuclear, right? This has got to be better than drilling for oil, right?
Slightly related: those of you who missed it in the news, or are visiting from abroad, Greenpeace successfully managed to close BP petrol stations across London.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq4TQvAoHNk]
It’s nice to see it winding up right wing bloggers, who have conveniently forgotten this piece of law that allowed, for the first time, climate change to be used as part of a “lawful excuse” defence for activists who end up in court.