Out smarting the regulator and smart meters

The recent cabinet reshuffle may help solve a problem that has been affecting all energy consumers for some years. I have already written about the quasi monopoly of the fossil fuel based energy companies and how I think that this works against the public interest. Strong regulation would help avoid the worst excesses of monopolies but unfortunately I regard the energy companies as frequently out smarting the regulator, which is what you would expect given the unequal resources available to the energy companies on the one hand and the regulator on the other hand. Continue reading

Microgeneration research – Professor Chesshire’s road map

Some excellent and important research has been done on microgeneration by a consortium of the Department of Business, Energy and Regulatory Reform as well as various large public and private organisations, under the chairmanship of Professor John Chesshire whose committee included some eminent experts. The ground work for the research was undertaken by Element Energy Limited, a low carbon consultancy and this report comprises the most accurate snapshot of the state of microgeneration in the United Kingdom today. Continue reading

Perfidious Albion and climate change

Targets, measured in expected outcomes, rather than actual measures are the world’s favourite way to attempt to slow down the pace of climate change, and the targets are different in different parts of the world. The world’s most populous fastest growing nations have virtually no targets, and the world’s less populous but highly developed countries have the most targets. Continue reading

An hour for the earth

I visit schools from time to time when they organise environmental events, and I am always impressed with how simply and accurately children see things. It is important, as one of my responders on this weblog writes, we must not to scare the children with fears of global warming, but in my experience the children are not at all scared, just determined.

At these events the children come up with simple but important practical rules about alleviating climate change and reducing the rate of carbon emissions in the atmosphere; dry your washing on the line if you can, not in a tumble dryer, walk if you can instead of driving and turn off the lights.

On Sunday several hundred cities in 35 countries turned off lights for an hour, as part of an initiative called “Earth Hour”. Continue reading

Wind Turbines – John Hutton’s blustery way

We have had one of the “we are going to one day perhaps” announcements from the government about building “up to” 7000 offshore wind turbines. The story starts big – all UK homes will be powered by wind by 2020 but the small print reveals this to be an aspiration, rather than a policy. Continue reading

Climate Change and what we do – Truth and Lies

I wrote this for H&V News, and lots of people wrote to me saying that they agreed with my sentiments. It will be an interesting start to my weblog.

Some truths are virtually self evident; one is that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world today which we can only really mitigate by emitting less carbon dioxide.

Lies are not self evident. The late and unlamented Josef Goebbels said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it people will eventually come to believe it.  When you couple a big lie with a self evident truth, you cause the greatest harm.

The truth about climate change is being coupled with the big lie that the government is doing something about it and leading the world in the fight against climate change. DEFRA on its climate change web page claims “The UK is acting now to adapt to climate change and to reduce the risk by reducing our contribution to the causes”. I do not believe that. It is a lie. 

The truth is that the United Kingdom government does less about climate change than any virtually of its EU partners, and less than most countries in the world. For example, due entirely to lack of government encouragement the solar thermal industry in the UK is around 5% of that of Germany and we see a very modest growth rate in its take up here.

Countries, like France, Portugal, Italy and Spain which traditionally had only slight more solar thermal than the UK are now experiencing double digit growth as a result of the policies of their own government. Our government it seems need to be convinced that this is a viable technology, or do they? 

We see articles in the Guardian in August that government officials from DBERR have secretly briefed that the UK has no hope of meeting its climate change targets and have suggested ways of fiddling the figures or wriggling out of its commitments.

The Guardian also reported that the Department of Communities and Local Government will now abolish the Merton Rule, requiring all new buildings to generate 10% of their energy needs on site, less than a year after the housing minister urged all Councils to adopt it. 

Whenever I have met officials involved in climate change work, I have been usually surprised at their lack of ability to understand the benefits of renewable technologies; I always put this down to lack of intellectual quality. I thought that they were genuinely attempting to achieve a greater uptake of renewables but were simply incompetent in understanding how to do this. 

Now, with the latest revelations and coupled with the government intention to regulate the solar thermal industry in a way that even a massive market, like Germany would baulk at, I need to change my mind. I think that the government is simply repeating the big lie in the hope that people will believe it while actually by their policies making no real effort to mitigate climate change.

The truth is that the Government is indifferent to climate change.  They are talking a lot but doing very little.

If they had spent the £2 million that the Stern report cost on microgeneration measures I believe it would have boosted the renewable industry tremendously and in the long run saved far more carbon than a report which no one now reads and whose recommendations are parked on a shelf gathering dust. 

I cannot understand the need to regulate closely the heating and plumbing industry in relation to solar thermal. Genersys is the largest supplier in the UK of solar thermal panels and last year we have had no complaints about installers and none so far this year.

Every time I get my electricity bill, and see that they have again taken out too much money or find that they have failed to earth the supply properly, I know who really needs regulation. 

In November last year the Government introduced Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Building Programme, after a virtually secret bidding process which led to the vast majority of solar thermal manufacturers (many of whom have far better products than those chosen by the process) and virtually all of the selling and installation companies being excluded from this significant market for no possible reason; fossil fuel energy companies, are for the government, the best way to deliver renewable micro-generated energy, notwithstanding the lack of experience, expertise and the conflict of interests inherent in the big suppliers of gas and electricity. 

Of course, a big lie can only be maintained if the government can shield its people from the consequences of that lie. You might be able to repress dissent in some cases but the big lie that the government tells about its climate change policy will ultimately be exposed because you cannot shield people from the laws of physics and from nature. I take no pleasure in that thought, because by the time the lie is commonly understood to be a lie, it will be too late.