When discussing Renewable Energy technologies with associates, acquaintances and relatives, I often hear tones of scorn and the invariable question : “If it’s that good, why aren’t they doing it already ?”
This anti-sense meme from Classical (Neoliberal, Chicago School) Economics boils down to a perception problem. The obvious reason why Renewable Energy technologies are not already widely in use is due to the first-mover problem – it takes time to establish and roll out new technologies. People just don’t like change. And they have to get over the “investment bump” – spending the money to install new technologies.
The other obvious reason why Renewable Energy technologies are not already widely in use is that the Fossil Fuel and Nuclear industries have been supported with generous helpings of State support. And they’ve spent some of their profits on disinformation campaigns about Renewable Energy technologies – so much so that humble town councils around Great Britain believe that wind turbines are rubbish and refuse to have them on their patch.
But let me tell you this : the only future for Energy is Green.
And the only returns on investment that anyone will be able to make in Energy will be in Renewables.
OK, so I’m not an IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), but I can tell you which way the wind is blowing in terms of Carbon pricing.
Sooner or later, it will become unprofitable to emit Carbon Dioxide, even if you sell Energy from that activity.
The Fossil Fuel companies will go bust if they don’t change course.
Sooner or later, the world will agree on Carbon caps that stick, and reductions in emissions that will be regulated, legislated and monitored.
Why am I sure of this ? I’ve read enough of the Climate Change science, the actual physical evidence, that I am convinced that the only course of action is strong curtailment of Carbon Dioxide emissions from economic activity – which means Energy supply activity.
Oh yes, we will also need to curb our Methane emissions, and do a number of other things as well, but Carbon Dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas to control, reducing its accumulation in the air.
But don’t worry. Even though there is a lot of Energy investment that we will all have to pay for over the next 30 years, it will work out cheaper overall.
Why is that ? Well, first off, wind, wave and solar power is free. I mean, the kit to harness it needs to be paid for, but the power is uncosted. Free fuel ! I hear people cry. Free fuel, forever.
Secondly, Renewables are more sustainable than other Energy resources : there is no bottom-of-the-well problem with Wind Power; there is no danger that the Sun will stop shining until it dies about X billion years hence; the seas will keep washing over the shores.
Third of all, Renewables do not damage the local environment where they are installed, to any great degree. Yes people moan about bird strike on turbines, peat removal for wind turbine siting and so on and so on. But the scale of these impacts is so much less than the use of Fossil Fuels – oil spilling into the oceans on a constant basis; or Coal – poisoning the environment with mercury, dioxins and ash.
Fourth : practically all Renewable Energy technology equipment can be recycled – sparing us from “resource constraints” on building the kit to deploy in the field. We could power the whole world from a small part of the Sahara desert, according to the calculations, so that’s not so much metal and glass, is it ? We’ve covered an area the size of the whole Sahara with cities of metal, concrete and glass in the past.
Actually, it is that good, and people are already doing it.
“November 2, 2009 : DESERTEC $555 Billion Renewable Energy Project Moving Forward : The huge project to build a $555 billion renewable energy “ belt ” in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, funded largely by German companies, moved another step forward a few days ago.”
“Solar power from Sahara a step closer : The German-led Desertec
initiative believes it can deliver power to Europe as early as 2015”
“Sahara Sun ‘to help power Europe'”