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The 'Revolution' needs to get moving...

On Friday, the Tories released their plans for an ‘Energy Revolution’, which predictably devolved into a slanging match with the government dismissing the plans as impractical and the Liberal Democrats also suggesting the measures will never be implemented. This process devalues what should be a prime opportunity to discuss sensibly what can or cannot be achieved to kick-start this potentially very profitable new industry into action…

David Cameron’s new manifesto was perfectly timed, coming just days after Gordon Brown’s decision to go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow. This gave Cameron the chance to portray himself as the potential saviour of all mankind while Brown continues with his evil airport-expanding ways.

Among the list of energy-saving measures drawn up by the Conservatives include: smart meters in every home, undersea high-voltage DC cabling, street plug points for cars, incentives to expand offshore power generation, a high speed Maglev rail service linking the north to the south and loans to improve the efficiency of homes. Combined Heat and Power plants also get a good look in with plans to give councils greater powers to establish local heating networks.

It’s all very impressive to read, and were they to be implemented, it certainly would put in place a viable industry that electrical companies could benefit massively from. The key to this is the fact that many of the ideas form networks on a national scale, and that would mean big money for manufacturers of components right through to the engineers putting the systems in place.

But as it stands, the plans only exist on paper and will remain so until the next election at least. Which means now the major parties have decided this topic is a potential vote winner, we can look forward to arguments and counter-arguments variously describing initiatives as ‘essential’, ‘under-thought’, ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘meaningless’.

The people most likely to lose out, apart from the companies who could benefit from the investment ASAP, are the members of the public who currently aren’t being properly informed as to what the projects can achieve. Public backing and participation is vital to the success of many of these plans, and years of squabbling and misinformation will do a fine job of putting people off an energy efficient future altogether.

What the political parties and their plans for the future have in common is a distinct lack of facts, either to do with funding or what the projects will do for the end user. Buzz phrases such as ‘smart grid’ and ‘electricity internet’ take the place of proper descriptions and lead you to the conclusion that they don’t actually know what these systems do either. “Make them sound fancy and the public will buy into them”, seems to be the overarching policy. “And leave off that bit about the money.”

Let’s face it, if funding wasn’t a concern then the list of possibilities would be endless. Gold-plated biofuel generator for every home? So really rather than creating a fantasy land of 100% efficient wind turbines and completely emission-free vehicles, we need to educate the public about new initiatives with universally agreed facts and concentrate first on the more easily achievable goals.

The ‘Green Economy’ sounds horribly like yet another buzz phrase and at the moment, for the most part, it is. But all it needs is for some political bluster to transform into cold, hard, policy and our industry will be able to reap the rewards. But that needs to happen soon!

Enjoy the newsletter,

Richard Scott

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