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Super heroes - This month's issue | - Building Services Journal Page 1 of 2

Andy Pearson
Has the UK government finally made a bold commitment to green
energy? Its long- awaited renewable energy strategy, could see up to
15% of Britain’s needs, or about 35% of its electricity, met from
renewable sources by 2020.

Super heroes
July 2008

As a result of this green revolution, the next 12 years are likely to see hundreds more onshore wind turbines
and a series of giant offshore wind farms. There will be developments to exploit bio-energy from waste. The
possibility of a feed-in tariff has been mooted to encourage take-up of micro-generation technologies.

All this might actually reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions – if the rise in electricity consumption can
be halted. It might also encourage development of new renewable technologies. If nothing else, it should
improve the grid energy mix and reduce the nation’s dependence on oil and gas.

But this initiative is not without its problems. As fuel prices soar, greening the power supply is likely to push
up energy costs still further. The main problem, as Paul Goby, chief executive of energy supplier E.On,
highlights is that we would probably require 45GW of conventional back-up for 50GW of renewables for
when the wind stops blowing.

That is why a German plan for a European renewables super-grid deserves serious consideration. It is part
of a radical plan to turn deserts into huge solar thermal power stations that could provide Europe with up to
20% of its electricity. These desert stations would be linked to other sustainable power generation centres
throughout Europe, such as Britain’s new legions of offshore wind farms or hydro-electric power in
Scandinavia. This would avoid over-reliance on one or two countries as providers and on a particular
renewable energy source.

Last December ministers from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa agreed a six-year action plan.
Meanwhile the UK government looks set to embark on a series of new coal-fired and nuclear power
stations. The holistic approach to renewables and the case for a super-grid is particularly compelling for the
UK. All that is needed is a vision and government leadership. Now that would be a bold commitment.

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Story date 8 July, 2008

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http://www.bsjonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=589&storycode=3117135&c=1 10/07/2008