Sunday, March 11, 2007

what a waste

With the recent scientific publication from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, its now generally regarded that climate change debate is over. Humans are adversely impacting on the most dynamic of the earths systems.

Yet still the sceptics led by the USA and Australia are bleating about creating technology to resolve the problem instead of reducing carbon emissions.

Three years ago, the UK government's energy review offered a five year window for the renewable sector to prove itself. Since then, the government has attempted to trash this, steamrollering a new energy review to incorporate Blair's legacy to proliferate the nuclear industry and by default leaving a waste legacy for hundreds of thousands of years.

Thankfully the High Courts have seen through this charade labelling the second energy review as flawed. The government now needs to rush through its next 'consultation' so that Tony can be the saviour of the nuclear industry before he leaves number 10.

Will future generations be thankful. I doubt it. Even if the go ahead was given today it would take 20 years before any nuke stations will feed into the grid. To combat the UKs rising emissions we'd probably have to have dozens and dozens of them all over the place - allowing a NIMBY renaissance!. This will come at a massive cost – and additionally we'd need to consider waste management and decommissioning costs too. More importantly we don't have the time. We need to reduce harmful emissions NOW, not in 20 years time.

The climate change problem is a multi faceted one and needs a variety of approaches to resolve. But let's look at what could be achieved relatively easily. The UK's electricity generation is based upon a system of a post war centralised system. It is highly inefficient with something in the order of 80% energy losses. Most energy is lost through wasted heat and the remaining through the grid transportation system and the remainder through energy inefficient housing stock.

A number of cities in Europe have evolved and run on de-centralised energy systems. Energy produced close to the point of use through a combination of sources such as CHP, and renewable micro energy, capturing heat and cooling systems. Utilising proven and clean technology that exists and is readily available. And it dramatically works. In the UK, the London Borough of Woking has been able to reduce its CO2 reductions by more than 70% through de-centralisation. Now, the Mayor of London is seriously looking to champion this across the Capital. There is no reason why, across the country, Local Authorities, business and industry cannot utilise decentralise energy.

The problem with climate change is not the technological ability to reduce CO2. The problem is a lack of political will. Blair ought to focus on his political will and show national and international responsibility to reduce CO2 and the development of clean energy technology – he can domestically champion international leadership through de-centralisation.

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