With Ofgem’s announcement that from 2015 we’ll be facing energy blackouts, many media outlets have been keen to jump to the conclusion that it is European rulings on carbon emissions which are to blame – forcing the UK to become green before its time.
The reality is that the UK has known for years that an energy gap was on the way. Energy security and ensuring sufficient power for an ever growing population has been on the political agenda for many years – certainly a focus of the last government since early in its tenure. Aging power stations and a grid based on decades old infrastructure could never cope with current expansion.
There are certainly those who would reject progress, keep polluting, and leave their future ancestors to pick up the pieces. However, the UK is, as a whole, a rather more forward thinking country. We are fully signed up to the 80% carbon reduction target of 2050. Climate science tells us that it is impossible to mitigate against rising global temperatures and the costs to weather and climate patterns that this could bring. As young people we know that change is needed – and fast – if we are to keep the lights on for our future without risking our future.
So how can clean, green energy change the way we power the country? For one, rather than relying on imported gas reserves or ‘fracking’ (the questionable process of extracting natural gas from fragile rock beds, which has been alleged to have caused earthquakes in northern England), we can look at the potential of biogas and anaerobic digestion of waste. Offshore and onshore wind are already accepted as part of the solution, with our largest energy providers investing in this future power source. Individual homes can be powered through microgeneration (such as use of solar panels) and the reduction of energy loss through more prudent use of energy.
We need our government not to be drawn into a debate on whether coal power stations should be allowed to continue polluting our local atmosphere. We need a focus on creating a stable foundation where business can invest, creating green jobs in energy generation, distribution and further Research & Development. We need young people to be given the skills that they need to become fully energy literate and the ability to not just participate in, but drive, an economic future for Britain based on clean energy.
And above all we need government, regulatory bodies and business to come together to make green energy the real future of energy and power in this country. Looking backwards is never the answer.