Why we should spend on Renewable Energy

There is a kind of unreasoned hysteria which affects some people when it comes to measures to control climate change. Those who do not think climate change a threat are doomsayers; they hold that if we spend our money on solar panels and wind turbines it will bring economic ruin, as these devices are far too expensive to be justified. They argue that such expenditure will make our lives unduly expensive and make our industries and services uncompetitive. In fact the doom and gloom spread by these ideas is at least as doomy and gloomy as the doom and gloom spread by environmentalist who want to control climate change and have nations invest in clean renewable energy.

As with all economic decisions expenditure must balance the short term with the long term. For example, expenditure on defence in times of peace is expenditure to safeguard the long term position. Expenditure on social security and health is usually to remedy a short term problem. In some cases expenditure tries to cover both short term and long term problems.

Spending money on renewables is spending for the long term with some short term benefits. As with all expenditure people become obsessed with the wrong things. Pay back, is a good example. People are reluctant to invest in renewables, particularly personal spending on home microgeneration, because they fear there will be a long term payback.

Payback is a concept which people define in their own terms. Spending on a solar water heating system will provide a payback. If you add in all the savings – future fuel costs, inflation, savings on running your fossil fuel system, the payback can be between three years and ten years, depending upon which part of the world you live, what government support is offered and how much hot water you use. What is clear is that fossil fuel never provides a payback, none at all.

So, on a micro scale renewables are not expensive and over the long term are cheaper than fossil fuel systems which offer no payback at all. On a macro scale – large wind farms, massive PV arrays and the like are claimed to make our energy very expensive – prohibitively so, and will ruin us economically. The UK Parliament’s Committee on Climate Change disagree. Their best estimate is that large scale renewables (and some small scale renewables financed through additional charges on fossil fuel bills) will add about £110 per annum to the average UK household’s energy bill by 2020. At the moment the average UK household spend £1060 on energy each year (gas and electricity usually) and by 2020 that figure could rise to £1250, according to the Committee, who point out that insulation could reduce that figure to £1065.

The biggest contributor to rising energy prices is by far the rising costs of fossil fuel. That is responsible for at least 80% of the almost doubling of fuel prices in the UK in the past seven years. Of course any extra expense is an extra burden but we have to spend money to protect our long term interests such as defence and education, and we should also spend money to protect our long term interests to reduce the impact of climate change (which would make £110 per annum look very small beer indeed) and to provide us with less reliance on imported fuel and a cleaner and healthier air to breathe.


4 Responses

  1. Are you disillusioned by rising electricity prices, over dependence on the “green” dream [especially uneconomical and inefficient wind farms] and the destruction of our countryside then please register your objection by googling “22958 Norfolk”. Please also get your friends involved.

  2. There is, to my mind, a simple problem. Stop subsidising fossoil and pour that money into renewables instead.

    The UK subsidises airline fuel alone to the tune of £10billion pa. You can argue (and some probably will, till they’re blue in the face) that we need to support the airlines because that’s how we import a great deal of our food; my counter to that is that this just indicates how badly designed our entire infrastructure is.

    We have to stop putting off planning for the long term.

  3. […] DIY Solar Panels And Energy GuidesRobert Kyriakides’s Weblog […]

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