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North Devon is at the forefront of the energy debate

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

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Geography and nature have combined to put North Devon in the forefront of the debate about future energy production.

We already have one huge wind station at Fullabrook, several more substantial ones looming on our horizons, the prospect of the Atlantic Array, and one of the hottest spots around the UK for tidal energy off our coastline. Hinckley is not far away, and I am told we may even have shale gas.

Climate change and dwindling resources of fossil fuels are combining to make us decide urgently where we will get our future energy supplies from.

World gas prices already determine half of what we pay for domestic energy, making us very vulnerable. UK unit prices for gas and electricity are among the lowest in Europe, but our actual bills are among the highest because our houses are draughty and inefficient.

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This is why Liberal Democrats in the coalition have brought forward the Green Deal, offering everyone the money to install insulation, heating and new boilers – and then repay the cost gradually out of their savings on fuel bills. In the process 60,000 new "green" jobs will be created.

The Government is also managing markets to engineer £110 billion of investment into new energy production.

The UK has a legally binding target of 15 per cent of our energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. And we are aiming to have largely de-carbonised by 2030.

But we must get this right. In my view there has been too much emphasis on wind power. Turbines have been built too near to housing and without the consent of local communities. An efficient grid can only manage a finite amount of wind energy, and what has been built, consented or is in the planning process, basically provides that.

We just don't want or need very much more.

By contrast, too little progress has been made to exploit wave and tidal energy which has been starved of investment finance. Hopefully, new, more generous price support (ROCs) and funds from the new Green Bank, another Lib Dem initiative, will help.

And we face difficult decisions about gas. If safe ways of extracting new reserves of gas in the UK can be found, this is preferable in my view to more nuclear power.

Waste disposal, decommissioning and true cost remain seemingly intractable deficiencies of nuclear.

But what we cannot do is hide away from the debate. North Devon is right on the front line.

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3 comments

  • Luckyme  |  March 01 2013, 7:11PM

    This Government must stop ***** footing about and build some PROPER POWER STATIONS. These wind turbines are a complete waste of everybodys time. A failed techknowledgy that nobody want.

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  • ED34Mush  |  February 23 2013, 1:28PM

    I do wonder if there would be as many protests about windfarms if they were local community projects rather than commercially owned. A village that was receiving a healthy income might feel a bit different. I don't know how many there are in Devon, but they are springing up in other parts of the UK. The fundamental point is that we must treat electricity as the prime source of domestic power in rural areas. For those of us without access to a mains gas supply, electricity is the most viable option for heating. Oil is unlikely to remain an affordable heating fuel for much longer (many would say it was no longer), biomass is massivly expensive to install even with goverment funding and who knows how reliable the supply of pellets will be in years to come, and solid fuel is a no no. Of course we cannot rely totally on windpower and must ensure there is abundant research into alternative renewable options, but we must not allow that to delay the provision of systems we know will work if that prejudices the availablility fo affordable power in the near future. And who knows - when in a few years people want to dismantle old turbines, we may find they have been listed just like the windmills in Norfolk and the fen country!

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  • johndavies  |  February 21 2013, 10:56PM

    1 - ( "In my view there has been too much emphasis on wind power. Turbines have been built too near to housing and without the consent of local communities." ) Then curb the 'must have wind at any cost' zealots in the government, there are too many conflicts of interest. A lot of the political class have strong financial interests in 'Renewables' I'll name just a few - David Camerons father in law, Nick Cleggs wife, John Selwyn Gummer (Lord Deben), Ed Davey, Chris Huhne, Tim Yeo & a large number of DECC officials are "all in it together" & are making a packet!!! Stop taking local decisions away from local people. If locals say NO, it goes to appeal…. & Ed Davey says yes. That's NOT democracy. 2 - ( "In the process 60,000 new "green" jobs will be created." ) Where did that figure come from ?? please show calculation. Or is it another 'fairy dust' statistic !! Here are some examples of 'Green Jobs' - http://tinyurl.com/ajslx58 3 - ( "too little progress has been made to exploit wave and tidal energy which has been starved of investment finance." ) That's what power engineers have been telling government for the last 25yrs, but politicians chased the intermittent wind & solar green wash instead. Tidal energy is reliable. and an important way forward. The amount most people understand about harnessing natural resources and using them in a life-enhancing, planet-saving way can be written on a postage stamp. Frighteningly, that's also true of our glorious leaders, but they are locked into political ideology so when they discover a previous decision was wrong, (eg wind and solar), they can't admit to it & have to invent ever more bizarre spin to protect the original idea ….however bad it was. (numerous examples). 4 - ( " Hopefully, new, more generous price support (ROCs) and funds from the new Green Bank, another Lib Dem initiative, will help." ) I fear that's too little too late. Due to years of funding starvation, we now need loads of money throwing at research in universities, plus funding to assist in the development of feasible technologies - asap. Thanks to our glorious leaders' stupidity & refusal to listen to power engineers over the last 25yrs, if we have similar winter weather to 2010, you can expect rolling blackouts from winter 2015/16 (see the OFGEM report 126/12). ……Stock up with hot water bottles & candles. Its obvious from the article that the writer has little grasp of the technologies quoted. Sadly the general level of ignorance of technical subjects in the political class is appalling, yet they make the decisions that affect us all.

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