Is climate minister Greg Barker foolhardy or brave?United Kingdom
The minister is advocating hydropower schemes despite disappointing figures on renewable energy production in the UK
Recently the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) announced: "Barker calls for water mill renaissance". The minister, on a visit to the Peak District, called on "enterprising communities to harness the power of their rivers and streams to generate both green electricity and money." To encourage them, hydro schemes would, in future, be eligible for a feed-in-tariff, which guarantees that renewable energy supplied to the National Grid is paid a generous premium over traditional fossil fuels and nuclear.
Just a few weeks ago however, Decc figures showed that renewable energy production had fallen nationally for the second time this year – a problem blamed by officials on low rainfall and the wrong windspeeds (too high or too low and windfarms have a problem).
While investors in hydro and other such projects should take a much longer view than six months, the Decc quarterly energy statistics should give them pause for thought about what to invest their money in for the most reliable returns.
Barker is too well-briefed not to know this, so presumably he is taking the long view – a brave choice for a politician today. Here's hoping he persuades colleagues, particularly on the Conservative side of the government coalition, to take the same approach to the bigger questions of climate and energy policy.
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