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Greta Jonyniate | 18.07.11

Keeping the lights on in the UK

Interesting to see early thoughts from Fiona Harvey about the government’s new mantra:

“As Huhne spoke, note how little he mentions climate change and emissions and how often he talks about keeping the lights on. This is the government's new mantra, to try to counter the critics who rail against green taxes putting energy prices up.” 

We were shocked by the list of eight priority technologies (onshore and offshore wind, marine energy, biomass electricity and biomass heat, ground and air source heat pumps, and renewable transport technologies such as biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells) - with the priority on nuclear (with heavy subsidies disguised in the form of carbon floor pricing strategy) and offshore wind. 

Both technologies seem to be so far away from bringing energy online, requiring such significant investment that the plan seems to be unrealistic and totally impractical to deliver what we need and in time to stop the lights going out. Solar was nowhere to be seen - and for a technology that is SO easy to implement and so popular with communities, businesses and individuals - it delivered another devastating blow to the solar industry. Solar industry "perplexed" by exclusion from renewables roadmap.

By the end of the week we were interested to see a green monitor of how the government is measuring up on becoming the greenest government ever, Is the government keeping its green promises? Last May, David Cameron promised the coalition would be the "greenest government ever". This year environmentguardian.co.uk is going to track his progress.

The most clicky story of the week:

Leaf-shaped solar panels could coat buildings like ivy
The University of Utah is to fund the creation of a colourful array of photovoltaic panels shaped like leaves -- "Solar Ivy" -- that can be used to cover buildings in order to generate energy from the Sun's rays.

What about some other links we loved last week:

Japanese firm looks to solar power from the moon
Given Japan's well-documented recent energy problems, new attention is being focused on a revolutionary plan to construct a belt of solar panels 400 km wide around the equator of the moon and send the energy that is generated back to Earth in the form of laser-guided microwaves
(The Independent)

Triodos offers shares in renewables firm
Green-minded individuals will be given the chance to become shareholders in Triodos Renewables, an independent UK energy company managed by Triodos bank.
(The Guardian)

Australia plans to impose carbon tax on worst polluters
The Australian government has unveiled plans to impose a tax on carbon emissions for the worst polluters.
(BBC News)

PHOTOS: The Best Green Designs at London’s Royal College of Art Graduate Show
Showcase of the best green designs.

30 Eco-Chic Houses Made of 10 Types of Recycled Materials
Waste materials that are reclaimed for new structures can be as simple as a bunch of stacked tires or a boat that’s no longer seaworthy, or as complex as old stone bricks re-sculpted to look like new.

Could we be entering the era of greener air travel?
As the eco-tourism industry grows, the aviation industry has been struggling to offer credible alternatives to carbon-heavy jet fuel for those looking keep their holidays green.
(The Ecologist)

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