The real energy alternative ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Independent has a look at energy options for Britain - decentralised renewable energy generation vs centralised nuclear power - Greener power to the people: the real energy alternative?.

Ministers could avoid building nuclear reactors by encouraging families to fit solar panels and other renewable energy equipment to their homes, a startling official report concludes. The government-backed report, to be published tomorrow, says that, with changed policies, the number of British homes producing their own clean energy could multiply to one million – about one in every three – within 12 years.

These would produce enough power to replace five large nuclear power stations, tellingly at about the same time as the first of the much-touted new generation of reactors is likely to come on stream. And, it adds, by 2030, such "microgeneration" would save the same amount of emissions of carbon dioxide – the main cause of global warming – as taking all Britain's lorries and buses off the road.

The conclusions of the report – approved and partly financed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) – sharply contrast with initiatives hurriedly launched by Gordon Brown last week in reaction to the lorry drivers' fuel-price protests.

In his most pro-nuclear announcement to date, the Prime Minister indicated that he wanted greatly to increase the number of atomic power stations to be built in Britain. And he met oil executives in Scotland to urge them to pump more of the black gold from the North Sea's fast-declining fields – even though his own energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, admitted that this would do nothing to reduce the price of fuel.

Even more embarrassingly for the embattled Mr Brown, the report closely mirrors policies announced by the Conservative Party six months ago to start "a decentralised energy revolution" by "enabling every small business, every local school, every local hospital, and every household in the country to generate electricity".

Yesterday Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "We have found that there are huge economic, social and environmental gains to be made by doing this. It is good that, at last, part of the Government seems belatedly to be coming to the same conclusion, and we can only hope that the Prime Minister can rise above his panic-stricken clutching at old technologies and grasp the opportunities microgeneration offers for clean and more secure energy supplies."

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