Renewable energy will require nurturing

Green View by Peter Gudde
Green View by Peter Gudde
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We are all fundamentally irrational beings. We make decisions every day based on our own skewed sense of the world and frame our justifications accordingly.

So why should I keep battling for a better quality of life for those around me and those I will never come to know? Sustainability by my definition and not some economist’s financial day dream. Why do battle to make things better, I hear, when all we have is poor air quality, multinationals polluting the planet.

But, let me try to define Sustainability in five words... think of the kids, folks.

Some of our ‘rational’ decisions may be micro-efficient but sometimes macro-dumb.In the 1960s we were bull-dozing 19th century terraced streets which were unfit for human habitation and creating tower blocks, unfit for social habitation. In the Eighties, it was bus deregulation.

True, competition created lower costs, but it also meant three different bus firms parked at the same bus stop chasing the same customers.

Today, it’s UK energy policy, in my ‘green view’.

The recent changes to the Feed-in Tariff for renewable power, for example, has undermined an embryonic industrial sector which could be one of the wealth creators of the UK economy.

Okay, it may be the sector ringing its own warning bell about severe damage to an emerging industry but even the Government predicted the loss of up to 20,000 jobs in the UK as a result of cuts in subsidies.

I know of at least one high-quality Suffolk-based renewables firm that has gone out of business because of drastic changes to the tariff.

It is certainly micro-efficient, in national Treasury terms, to cut renewable energy subsidies to the extent achieved over the last few months but it is macro-dumb in the long term.

A gentler path to price parity with other energy generating technologies, notwithstanding the fact that fossil-fuel based energy does not pay for its own pollution costs, would have allowed the UK to emerge out of austerity with a burgeoning high value, market-leading tech sector.

Renewables are here to stay but they need nurturing like any young born. Soon they will grow up and pay their way… for the kids, folks.

-- Peter Gudde is environment manager for Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils