Where Greenpeace leads the Tory party follows
The UK throws away two thirds of all the energy it produces. That isn't a typo; two thirds of all energy generated in our nuclear, coal and gas fuelled power stations is lost as waste heat. Up the cooling tower chimney. Along the transmission lines. Gone. We throw away enough heat to meet the equivalent of whole of the UK's heating and hot water needs....
Now imagine a system that captures that "waste" heat and distributes it to local buildings or city districts. By producing electricity close to where it is used and using Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, we could slash our carbon emissions, save consumers money and ensure our energy security....
Decentralised energy essentially means generating energy close to where it is used. These local energy generators can be Combined Heat and Power stations, but they can also include renewable technologies such as wind farms, solar power and energy from greener fuels such as biomass. A decentralised system encourages better integration of a range of innovative clean technologies to get the best possible mix.
...The entire city of Rotterdam runs on decentralised energy, as does over 50% of Denmark.
WE ALL KNOW what Tony Blair thinks about nuclear energy. We even know what Gordon Brown thinks now. Both men seem to see support for new nuclear power stations as a sign of their political virility and their commitment to modernity.
What is far more interesting, though, is how the Conservatives will respond to the Government’s energy review, due to be published in about three weeks’ time. Will they continue with their traditional gung-ho support for nuclear power? Will they reluctantly champion the building of new nuclear stations as a way of reducing carbon emissions? Or will they use this as a powerful opportunity to make voters think about them anew, and reinforce their green credentials?
Our huge power stations — whether fuelled by coal, gas or nuclear — are grossly inefficient: they waste two thirds of the energy that they produce. Most of it rises into the air in the form of heat from the cooling towers. If Britain were to adopt a decentralised form of electricity generation, with much smaller combined heat and power (CHP) stations located in the communities they serve, then the heat produced by the stations could be channelled straight into factories and homes through hot water pipes. These CHP stations waste only 5-10 per cent of their energy.
Then, say the Tories, there are promising new technologies coming on stream. Carbon capture could make coal and gas-fired power stations much less polluting. There is huge potential in tidal power, which is more predictable than that of wind or sun. Add to that the possibility of geothermal power and hydrogen cells, and we look to be on the brink of a revolution in renewable energy
It can be done. The whole of Rotterdam runs on decentralised energy. So does more than half of Denmark.
Did Mary Ann Sieghart share her fee for this article with Greenpeace or are the similarities just the product of research?