Jack of All Trades, Master of None

British energy policy is in trouble. The tug-o-war between traditional and sustainable fuel continues to rage on, and governmental policy panders to each side. In one breath it speaks with a puffed up chest about the achievements of ‘the greenest government ever’ and producing photos of Cameron hugging a husky, and in the next it boasts of the tax breaks given to oil companies for exploration of our dwindling North Sea supplies. Can the powers that be not hear their constant contradiction?

Of course, it would be naïve to suggest that efforts to decarbonise UK energy should already have a stronghold over fossil fuels, or that a clean economy could simply spring up unsupported by traditional energy sources right away. Indeed, a mixture of sources is inevitable as the nation belatedly makes its way towards a low-carbon future, but the political rhetoric that now surrounds both fossil fuel and sustainable power has become very problematic.

The current governmental landscape betrays a belief that it is possible to run with the hare and the hounds ad infinitum when it comes to energy, and this simply isn’t the case. Giving with one hand and taking with the other not only demonstrates a disingenuous attitude that further belittles trust, it also harms investment and makes us less competitive on the world stage.

The contentious issue of fracking as a case in point: in the face of marches and petitions, the Government has attempted to smooth ruffled feathers by claiming shale gas is a clean alternative to coal and oil. It isn’t, and any claim to the contrary simply diminishes their credibility. A further blow has been delivered, with plans being drawn up to allow the undertaking of shale exploration without the permission or even knowledge of those who live on proposed sites. It seems the Government is determined to suck everything out of the ground at any cost for a quick fix.

In other news, a claim made under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that climate change spend under the watchful steer of Owen Paterson dropped from £29.1m in 2012-13 to £17.2m in 2013-14. Paterson is a vocal sceptic of man-made climate change, and was even quoted contemplating the many benefits of a change in British weather. When he was brought in as Secretary of State for the Environment, many predicted that he would do precisely what the figures reveal: slice great chunks out of the Department’s overheads. In light of the huge damage caused by recent flooding, this seems foolhardy at best and bordering on Machiavellian at worst. Cut all the emotive parlance out and you’re still left with an unsettling picture, because economies are not built on crumbling flood defences or million-pound clean up jobs that come as direct results of myopic policy making.

There are always going to be conflicting policies in government, that’s the nature of the game. But attempting to align with both ends of an incredibly divisive spectrum can only result in a strategy that demonstrates UK energy legislation to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. When the stakes are this high, can we afford to spread our resources in such a way that to a degree they simply cancel one another out? 

Author

  • As Chairman of the Rolton Group, Peter provides high-level strategic advice to a range of governmental, public sector and commercial clients. He is an acknowledged specialist in the renewable energy sector, and there is good reason for this: when it comes to energy, Peter is clear about the issues we face and the need for a cohesive strategy to tackle them. He is a passionate advocate of informed debate, and has consistently brought clarity to this complex situation."If the UK is united on one thing about energy it is that, on an individual basis, the public knows what it’s not in favour of. When it comes to offering up solutions, it’s not that confident. Pointing at single solutions like wind farms and saying that they are too expensive is missing the point. Carbon-based forms of energy like oil and gas are running out. Energy is going to be more expensive and a portfolio of renewable energies will necessarily be part of our solution in the future." Peter holds particular expertise in the areas of site-wide energy planning, zero carbon power generation, low carbon design, carbon offsetting and the application of renewable technology. He has acted as a Government advisor on numerous consultations and white papers, presenting to the Secretary of State on a number of occasions on the subject of renewable planning and public sector engagement. He has worked as a strategic partner with some of the world’s largest and most successful blue-chip companies, and is a Director of Renewables East, the renewable energy agency for the east of England.Peter is both a chartered building services engineer and a chartered member of the Institute of Energy, and has gained accreditation under the Carbon Trust Consultant Accreditation Scheme for solution development, with particular expertise in the establishment of energy strategies. He founded his first business, Rolton Services Consultants Limited, in 1989, and founded Cool Planet Technologies, a specialist renewable energy delivery partner which was sold to British Gas in 2010. He has been the architect of the path through which Rolton Group has addressed the challenges of renewables, carbon and the built environment."We need to see the bigger picture and not become hung up on individual technologies and individual costs. We need a completely different technology mix and not a reliance on one form of energy supply. We need all forms of technology to be applied – and we need it to happen quickly."

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As Chairman of the Rolton Group, Peter provides high-level strategic advice to a range of governmental, public sector and commercial clients. He is an acknowledged specialist in the renewable energy sector, and there is good reason for this: when it comes to energy, Peter is clear about the issues we face and the need for a cohesive strategy to tackle them. He is a passionate advocate of informed debate, and has consistently brought clarity to this complex situation."If the UK is united on one thing about energy it is that, on an individual basis, the public knows what it’s not in favour of. When it comes to offering up solutions, it’s not that confident. Pointing at single solutions like wind farms and saying that they are too expensive is missing the point. Carbon-based forms of energy like oil and gas are running out. Energy is going to be more expensive and a portfolio of renewable energies will necessarily be part of our solution in the future." Peter holds particular expertise in the areas of site-wide energy planning, zero carbon power generation, low carbon design, carbon offsetting and the application of renewable technology. He has acted as a Government advisor on numerous consultations and white papers, presenting to the Secretary of State on a number of occasions on the subject of renewable planning and public sector engagement. He has worked as a strategic partner with some of the world’s largest and most successful blue-chip companies, and is a Director of Renewables East, the renewable energy agency for the east of England.Peter is both a chartered building services engineer and a chartered member of the Institute of Energy, and has gained accreditation under the Carbon Trust Consultant Accreditation Scheme for solution development, with particular expertise in the establishment of energy strategies. He founded his first business, Rolton Services Consultants Limited, in 1989, and founded Cool Planet Technologies, a specialist renewable energy delivery partner which was sold to British Gas in 2010. He has been the architect of the path through which Rolton Group has addressed the challenges of renewables, carbon and the built environment."We need to see the bigger picture and not become hung up on individual technologies and individual costs. We need a completely different technology mix and not a reliance on one form of energy supply. We need all forms of technology to be applied – and we need it to happen quickly."

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