Saturday, September 29, 2007

Getting the assessment of technology right: Severn Barrage or other tidal energy extraction methods for instance

Its now emerged that alternatives to the 10 mile long Severn Barrage proposal will also be examined as part of the 'barrage' feasibility study. This is good news, though its a concern that the big barrage, and all the profit-loaded development that comes with it, is what is obviously being favoured - boosting renewable energy supply and energy security, with minimal impacts should surely be the uppermost consideration. Interesting that Labour's Cabinet Minister for Business...John Hutton chose to announce the barrage study in the middle of a party conference, getting lots of media coverage and 'green' kudos, instead of waiting for the Sustainable Development Commission to report (which it will this Monday!!).

Its vital that we get the technology assessment right, to establishment the proposal with the best combination of benefits, especially renewability, security and low impact (they could do a lot worse than seeking OU advice !). The assessment should, for all alternatives, look at: cost-effectiveness now and on into the future; technical capabilities and limitations; impact on the economy and working lives now and on into the future; impact on the natural environment and other system environments now and into the future.

I'm strongly of the opinion that we are far too 'energy generation obsessed' and are seriously under-investing in far less sexy but much more sensible energy efficiency and conservation. This, as the cheapest, quickest and most effective way to fight climate change, by orders of magnitude, should really be the basis of energy policy.

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