Christopher Sharp reports on last night’s discussion with Lord Robin Teverson on renewable energy.
Renewable energy is in crisis. On Friday 12th February, Lord Robin Teverson, Economics Graduate of Exeter University and current Liberal Democrat representative in the House of Lords, visited our campus to talk to our students about this pressing issue.
As the economy continues to grow, the government faces an energy trilemma. The government is trying to emphasise de-carbonisation by switching to low carbon power alternatives such as nuclear power, that, while a dangerous alternative, is very efficient alternative to burning coal. They must also balance this against energy security, maintaining control and possession of the maximum resources needed to create the energy, and the affordability of the energy created to the public. Currently the Conservative government, according to Teverson, is back-tracking on some of its environmental duties trying to lower Britain’s emissions on a budget. One such back-track is the scrapping of the Zero Carbon Houses Act that stated that all new houses built by this year would have to be zero carbon. Since the government has scrapped this Act, Lord Teverson predicts that these houses, built to last one-hundred years, will have to be refitted at great cost in twenty years. Not only this, but energy bills will also have to go up to compensate for the cost. Closer to Teverson’s own preferences, the Conservative government is also limiting on-shore wind-farming to save the aesthetic of our country side even though economically, something Mr Osborne is very keen on, on-shore wind-farming costs half as much to set-up. Welcome to Conservative Renewable Energy Policy.
Closer to home, Lord Teverson discussed the nature of Cornwall’s position in the world of renewable energy and how the county is one of the hotbeds of development in geo-thermal energy with fourteen million pounds of funding from Europe and other outlets. Furthermore, the coast of Falmouth is set to be the site of exciting new developments in marine renewables, harnessing the tide to create hydro-electric power. Having clearly a shown a strong preference to wind-farms, I asked Teverson why Britain was not using its position as an island to exploit the tides that surround it. Teverson argued that there is not enough money going into companies like Wave Hub and unlike wind-turbines, there is no base or widely applicable model, as of yet. I was given, as a rough estimate, that within five to six years there would be a “break-through” and that by 2026 there would be hydro-electric tidal lagoons off the coast of Falmouth and other towns in Cornwall.
Bring on 2020 then, where Britain is set to achieve only one of the three goals set under the Renewable Energy Directive that required that each country achieved a position where 20 percent of the energy it produced was done through renewable methods. This Britain has achieved the level at 25% having started from 3% in 2008. However, we will not meet the 20% reduction in emissions or the 20% increase in efficiency. This of course disappoints a Lord so perseverant in his desire not only to make Britain great again but also to make Britain green again.