According to the BBC today is energy day. The BBC radio 5 programme has a number of gimmicks to mark energy day. They have a temporary studio powered by renewable energy including photo-voltaic panels, wind turbines and exercise bicycles, but these things are merely gimmicks; no doubt more fossil fuel energy has been expended in erecting the temporary studio than will be saved by all these devices.
That is the problem with any energy discussion in the media; you have to look at energy as a whole and not for a day. It is interesting to note that the BBC’s temporary studio has only used renewables to create electrical energy, yet the BBC’s own research shows that people in the United Kingdom are most concerned about the cost of heat energy, not electrical energy.
The BBC is falling into the same trap as the government of the United Kingdom; for both of these institutions energy is really about electricity. Virtually all the government subsidies and incentives reward renewable electricity, not renewable heat. There is a renewable heat incentive, but it is poorly constructed and barely used. The renewable electricity tariffs have enabled many providers of renewable electricity to get rich quick, but the providers of renewable heat are in difficulty, because they compete with renewable electricity for customers upon a playing field which favours the providers of renewable electricity so much that any competition is unfair. This unfairness is bolstered by load energy bills with subsidies which are directed to the provision of renewable electricity, so the poor householder, struggling to find money to pay a heating bill, is subsidising people who invest in PV projects and wind turbines, who are paid three or four times the unit rate that consumers pay for generating electricity that is fed into the grid frequently at times when the grid does not need the electricity.
Yes, today is energy day, and a bit more thinking and fewer gimmicks will serve us better.