Mind the gap

But they're only bothered about schoolsandhospitals.....

a small leap forward?a small leap forward?

One third of the UK's current generating capacity will be out of use by 2015, a third of our power stations will be worn out or against EU pollution laws as North Sea Oil dries up. Our government states that world consumption of energy will increase 50% by 2030 , so there will be a lot of competition for resources. Whatever your views on nuclear energy, the government is dithering and these plants need to be being built pretty soon if they are to fill the energy gap and they need to sort out who is to pay for the disposal of the waste. The government states in its energy white paper that we'll need to increase our 'gas import capacity' by 15-30%. This is not a particularly secure way to fill the gap. Norway may look upon us kindly but many other potential gas suppliers may not.

The EU has thought up a figure of achieving 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2010 . To reach this target the UK will have to produce 6% more in the next couple of years! Government is already thinking up spin as to why this will not happen. Mr Blair also said we would reduce our carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050!!! And the EU proposes a 20% cut in TOTAL energy consumption by 2020. Golly.

' leap forward in all fields'.' leap forward in all fields'.

Have our governments ( EU and UK) made provision for rapidly growing populations? Have they even thought of this, much less put it into their virtual equation? All these people will drive cars and use washing machines. The EU proposes ever more growth, which means ever more consumption, which means ever more energy. Chairman Mao also had lots of targets that people told him had been met.The Great Leap Forward in 1958 brought China close to economic ruin. Part of the great campaign was to produce steel in backyard steel furnaces. Mao only later realised that steel couldn't be made like this. Nevertheless he allowed it to continue as he didn't want to lose face and diminish revolutionary fervour. I imagine most workers realised that something was wrong when their melted down woks and pans produced a mess of poor quality pig iron but they didn't like to say anything.

The EU also picked another figure out of the air; namely that 10% of all transport fuel consumption in the Union must be from biofuels. Forest trees especially in Borneo, Sumatra and Indonesia are being cut as we write to produce palm oil. This despite the fact that forest trees absorb nine times more CO2 than biofuel crops. I thought they were going to save the rainforest? According to the British Wind Energy Association England's green and pleasant land could provide our impossible quota of 10% renewable energy if 5,000 wind turbines were erected. This is mad but not totally impossible as the government now has the ability to override local planning decisions. Renewables Obligation Certificates which are tradeable have given in effect a subsidy to big business to create an artificial market with vast profits. The renewables obligation gives a billion a year in subsidies to renewable energy sources but can't fund research into carbon capture. I feel a little like a Chinese peasant in that you are made to feel mean if you don't support nice wind farms. It sounds such a good idea and who wants to be a party pooper? Even the Renewable Energy Foundation has its doubts.

a nice fronta nice front

Motorcycling by the wind turbine lined Zuyder Zee in Holland many years ago, I saw the effect of wind power on the large birds which lay dead at their bases. This technology is not only ugly it is notoriously inefficient and unreliable. yet, even The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has given its sanction. This well respected organisation provides safe havens by providing habitat for native birds and is doing sterling work helping to save vultures, albatrosses and the Sumatran rainforest. The RSPB has double the membership than our political parties combined and great influence. Yet, it has allied itself to Scottish and Southern Energy and calls itself RSPB Energy. The website shows, sunflowers, butterflies and idyllic Teletubby-like landscpes. Yes, by changing to RSPB Energy you could help transform the British Isles into one great wind farm and increase the profits of one of the largest energy companies in Britain by providing an excellent cosmetic front. Thus, a NHS hospital could be buying emission rights from the RSPB ! Mr Cameron has a small wind turbine on his roof and Tony Blair has just discovered energy efficient lightbulbs (though only because the other types are being banned by the EU). So they're both doing their bit then.

Our government talks the talk but doesn't think the thought. It dithered so much until it was too late to prevent BP's closure of the Miller oil field which was central to its development of the world's first industrial-scale hydrogen power scheme, which would have provided 1,000 jobs in Aberdeenshire. This carbon capture scheme was universally praised as being beautifully green but was probably not sexy enough for a New Labour press release. Schoolsandhospitals are the mantra whenever a politician is asked a tricky question :my constituents want to talk to me about the things that really matter to people..... Spin has kept New Labour in power for over 10 years, unless the wind turbines spin continuously we shall all have to get out the candles.

Clean Coal Technology (CCT) is well worth trying. Coal is still plentiful and carbon capture and storage may well be the way forward. China is building a coal- fired station every week so unless a cleaner method of burning coal is found it won't matter how many wind turbines we put Carbon sequestrationCarbon sequestrationon our roofs. We give enormous subsidies to wind farms to slice up birds and spoil the view yet we won't invest in helping kick start the process by providing help in the first stages of large-scale clean coal development. We still have huge stocks of coal and,with modern methods of extraction (underground coal gasification), namely clean energy with minimal greenhouse emissions we wouldn't ruin the countryside. We could have security of energy supply and even export the technology. However, as usual, Richard North - see EU Referendum tells us that this is also madness and gives all the details.

John Hutton has a law degree from Oxford but his job as Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform must be a busy one. To add on energy is a bit much. Shouldn't energy have its own department? After all it's pretty fundamental to everything else. Just off to wind up my radio and worry about schoolsandhospitals.