Sunday, 17 June 2012

Energy - The Next Generation

Living in Cambridgeshire, it is very flat. I am lucky to be living up in what passes for "them thar hills" so I can indulge in long strolls along relatively flat ground with the occasional rolling bits.

Today I decided to walk out from Balsham along to the Fleam Dyke, and then take a right turn back to Balsham along part of the Harcamlow Way. I did have an ulterior method. I wanted to check out the Wadlow Wind Farm that is being built as we speak.

Up to now, I had only seen the turbines from the road whilst commuting. And yet, after today, I realised the sheer scale and size of them makes them appear closer than they really are, this makes them pretty imposing on the landscape.

They are though, aesthetically pleasing to look at. Ive seen worse designs round here. A horrid mobile phone mast on the road leading up to Balsham. A monstrous carbuncle of a hotel on Hills Road in Cambridge.

But as I approached the site, it did lead me to reflect on where we go from here in terms of how we generate the energy needed for future generations, especially as coal and gas is a finite resource. The last thing we need is to be energy dependent on the Middle East. With the Arab Spring still to play out its long term consequences, we could still find ourselves with unsympathetic governments in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other places.

The obvious start would be to legislate for all new developments and re-developments incorporate the latest in home insulation and solar panels on the roof.

This micro-generation would be part of a mix with bigger solar and wind farms and nuclear plants, suitably located, replacing existing coal and gas plants.

(And before you comment on my reference to nuclear plants, I consider nuclear to be a useful, near unlimited power generation facility that would fill in the gaps left by solar and wind power. The question of the waste is another issue.)

I am however, not getting the impression that successive Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change have been brave enough to grasp the mettle. Fine words about Green Bank and investing in infrastructure are all very well but without action, any delay will mean no power plants in place to replace the aging ones and could lead to a very real risk of the lights going out in years ahead.

Pull your finger out and get on with it!

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