How to plug the energy gap

11/09/05

Tomorrow (November 10, 2005) sees the publication of an authoritative, multidisciplinary report which aims to provide the Government with a coherent, feasible solution to the acknowledged problem of the UK's looming Energy Gap. The report, written by John Loughhead, (Executive Director, UK Energy Research Centre) is the result of a multidisciplinary consensus meeting between 150 scientific, technical, economic and sociological experts at Burlington House on October 12 and 13, under the auspices of The Geological Society of London [Note 1,5]. The meeting was co-sponsored by five sister societies and institutes [Note 2].

The Report distils the conclusions of the meeting and is independent of all its sponsoring bodies.

The Report says:

Energy will inevitably become less available and more expensive than it has been for the last few decades. The change will be permanent. Adapting to this scenario while maintaining the UK's standard of living will require fundamental changes in the way we produce and use energy. All sources of energy will be required.

  • Fossil fuels will remain our most important source for the next 50 years, despite a growing role for renewable energy. Clean systems, including carbon capture and storage, should be pursued urgently.
  • Nuclear fission energy is a proven and reliable technology that will inevitably have a key role in a future clean energy mix.
  • Renewable energy sources will play a growing role, but will require continued support in development and deployment if they are to match the cost levels of conventional systems.
  • Energy demand reduction measures will be as important as generation technologies, and will require both technological and behavioural changes. Existing technology for energy efficiency is not fully exploited, and changing this is as important as new technology development.
  • Engagement of the public in bringing about these changes is crucial, but requires more perceptive schemes that recognise the role energy plays in people's lives, and not based on arguments appealing to technical or economic rationality.
  • Industry and commerce is prepared to play its role, but needs consistent incentive mechanisms given the absence of immediate market imperatives to change current practice.
  • Government has the key role to play by providing consistent market signals, reinforced by structured and affordable incentives; implementing regulatory structures to bring about changes in the energy system, and taking responsibility for an effective engagement of the public in the process.
  • The market alone will not deliver the aspirations of energy policy, and clear means to encourage the necessary changes are essential.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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