Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coal power, clean or not, is now essential

This quote, from Peter Huber, should be printed on a placard and used to beat some sense into people who just will not accept the realities of energy policy:

"If you're 40 or older, you're going to spend the rest of your life powered by carbon or uranium. Take your pick. Forget about "none of the above" or "less of both." For the next several decades at least, alternative energy sources aren't serious choices; they are pork barrels, delusions, demonstration plants and daydreams."

Of course, it isn't quite as simple as that. New technology might deliver something new more quickly and allow us a third option. That's one of those possibilities that you can take small steps to encourage but definitely shouldn't plan on. If some marvellous new renewable, or fusion, quickly becomes able to reliably and affordably provide substantial quantities of power then take that as a bonus. In the meantime, we need to make sure we can keep a secure and reliable supply of energy available.

This excellent article by John Constable, from the Renewable Energy Foundation, sets out how the Government have been enjoying energy daydreams for ten years and have left the future of UK electricity dark, dirty and and costly.

The green movement have encouraged the Government in their delusional belief that growth in renewables could stop Britain becoming dangerously dependent on gas. To see the greens protesting at the building of coal power plants, when they did so much to block cleaner options such as nuclear power, is infuriating. Yes, carbon capture and storage (CCS) might not be installed on an industrial scale for some time but the dichotomy can't be coal power plants and CCS or letting the lights go out half way through the next government's term.

With supplies of gas unstable Britain needs a more diverse mix of fuels. 10 years of delay mean that the only way of doing that is now to build coal power plants.

Cross-posted from CentreRight.Com.

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