Azara Blog: Britain is allegedly going to throw a lot of money at "green" energy

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Date published: 2008/06/21

The BBC says:

As many as a quarter of British homes could be fitted with solar heating panels under new government plans for a "green revolution".

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the new proposals are "the most ambitious" such strategy that Britain has seen.

The goal is to meet the EU target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020.

But at a time of consumer anger over fuel prices, the plan concedes that green power will cost more.

The plan will also call for 3,500 new wind turbines to be erected across the UK, the Guardian newspaper reported.

The total price tag for the proposals is pegged at £100 billion.

Mr Wicks said the plans, which may include measures to force homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, were aimed at dramatically increasing Britain's energy supplies from renewables by 2020.
Robin Webster, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the plan was a positive step.

"Harnessing the UK's natural abundance of wind and wave power, and developing a comprehensive energy efficiency programme will create thriving new industries and generate thousands of jobs."

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said the plans for solar panels on seven million roofs and other steps to reduce the use of fossil fuels make sense regardless of the price of oil or the state of the climate.

This sounds like desperation (because the EU has held a gun to the head of Britain) and spin more than anything else.

For once the comment by an FoE person makes some sense. On the other hand, the comment by the Greenpeace person does not make sense. Solar panels are completely the wrong technology for Britain (in 2008). Funnily enough, it's not very sunny in Britain, and the payback period for solar installations is effectively infinite. Not only that, but it would rely on having a halfway competent army of solar power installers and maintenance engineers. Britain's track record on that kind of thing is woeful, and unlikely to get better. In 2008, Britain should be investing in large-scale wind, and possibly wave, technologies, not in solar power. (Of course, there are potential benefits from passive solar heating, but that is a separate issue.)

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