In the 10 November 2005 issue of BBC News, there is a detailed article by Richard Black titled Britain facing large energy gap. According to his by-line, Richard Black is the the Environment Correspondent for BBC News website.
The article discusses the results of a report compiled by a panel of 150 recognized energy experts. The report is scheduled for formal release today.
The main conclusion is that Britain will amost certainly put effort into renewable energy systems, but that it will continue to depend upon fossil fuels for the majority of its supply for the next several decades. The report also concludes that there is no way to reach emissions targets without building new nuclear power plants, especially as the existing plants reach the end of their useful operating life.
Here is a quote from the article that I found to be rather amusing:
However, there was clearly some dissent from these conclusions among experts consulted for the report.
“In the case of nuclear, the government should take a decision soon, and the decision should be ‘no’,” the chief executive of the solar energy company solarcentury Jeremy Leggett told the BBC News website.
“More than 50% of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions come directly or indirectly from buildings; and the key to reducing that lies in renewables and energy efficiency.”
Notice the qualifications of the quoted expert – he is the business leader of a company that sells solar energy systems – systems that depend on huge government subsidies. The normal justification for providing subsidies for solar energy systems is that they are emissions free but need help in becoming economically competitive. Of course, in the Age of Google, I could not resist looking up Mr. Leggett’s biography.
He is indeed an energy expert with a deep resume; here are some of his former positions: “consultant for the oil industry”, “work on oil source rocks funded by BP and Shell”, “environmental campaigner for Greenpeace International”, “director of the world’s first private equity fund for renewable energy”, “member of the UK Government’s Renewables Advisory
Board”, author of The Carbon War.
Here we have a posted confession that at least one Greenpeace campaigner began his academic and professional career as a paid researcher for oil companies. He has been a member of a governmental body that recommends taxpayer subsidies to renewable energy projects and now he runs a large solar system engineering company. It is pretty obvious that the man has several apparently conflicting interests, but the common thread comes down to money.
If nuclear power is allowed to compete, there will certainly be less support for continuing to take taxpayer dollars and give them to people or companies that purchase solar energy systems. Solar system providers supply technologies that are simply slightly more sophisticated ways to collect energy from a source that has been known to humans since they first became aware of their surroundings. If solar energy subsidies (which, in the UK, can be 40-60% of overall system cost) shrink or disappear , Mr. Leggett and his company will sell fewer systems and may even have to close up shop.
Here is a link from Solar Century’s web site that describes the subsidies available to system purchasers and Solar Century’s program to help complete the application process. http://www.solarcentury.co.uk/content.jsp?sectno=2&subno=10
Quoting from that page:
We will work with you throughout the process of applying for funding. All works, up to and including help with the preparation of the funding application, will be provided free of charge on the condition that prior to submission of the funding application, or the issuing of tender documents, it is formally agreed that solarcentury will be the specialist contractor for this project. If you feel that this is not acceptable then other arrangements can be made.