The government’s new energy adviser has warned of a potential energy shortage by 2016, as old coal and oil power stations are taken out of use. He blames public opposition to new wind farms, nuclear plants etc. for slowing the building of renewable energy sources.
I’ve got a solution for this, which I have put forward before. It’s partly a bribe, but it’s also a way of cutting the national energy bill and promoting renewables. The government should extend its schemes for subsidising houseowners’ efforts to cut consumption and begin microgeneration. As more people become eligible for insulation or solar grants they will see the benefits of lower consumption in their bank accounts. Not only will this go viral and convince ever more people that they need to work toward energy independence, it will make them more open to larger renewable energy schemes.
Paying out more, and larger, grants to homeowners will be more expensive in the long term than just trying to force through wind farms or nuclear against current levels of opposition, but it will also have more immediate positive effects. Those who take advantage of the schemes will see a benefit in their fuel bills within a quarter and a large proportion of the money paid out will go to small companies, keeping them afloat in the recession and finding its way back into the economy faster than a huge sum to a big construction conglomerate would.