Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A small reminder

I thought this letter in the Indy today was well articulated:

Energy policy about to hit the iceberg

Your correspondents ("Bringing down the cost of solar panels", 4 September) are not just re-arranging the Titanic's deckchairs, they are busily hammering holes in her hull. Yes, you can make anything appear viable by offering subsidies, but artificial "feed-in" tariffs, renewables obligation certificates and support for biofuel producers merely transfer the economic costs to the taxpayer and the environmental costs to the planet.

Most renewables, particularly micro-generation, do not just leave users out of pocket; in many cases their production and distribution absorb more energy and emit more carbon than the units will ever pay back. By contrast, turning down the central heating or putting out some lights costs nothing and saves money on the next bill, not in 160 years.

We must recognise that reducing our energy consumption is essential, because all forms of fuel are running out, because we are increasingly dependent on foreign regimes for our supplies and because most energy use causes CO2 emissions. We must have an energy policy which includes sustainable sources such as underground coal gasification, geothermal energy and community-based combined heat and power. Unlike most renewables, these offer energy 365 days a year. Wind and solar have a place when they can be installed on an industrial scale at the point of use, but those who believe they will allow us to continue our squanderous lifestyle while saving the planet are recklessly deluded.

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