British Energy Funding Disappointing

The British Government’s decision on November 28 to extend still further the public support for financially-stricken nuclear generator British Energy is condemned as “disappointing and unfair” by a solar electric company in Britain, Solar Century.

London, England – December 3, 2002 [] “Every pound spent on keeping British Energy afloat is a pound taken away from the real energy solutions of tomorrow,” said Jeremy Leggett, the Chief Executive of Solar Century. The decision comes as future energy policy is being hotly debated in and around Westminster, with the shape of the long awaited energy white paper, now scheduled for the New Year, still an open question. “Innovation across-the-board with renewable and efficient energy technologies is outstandingly the best prospect for future national energy policy,” said Leggett. “Continuing to pour yet more hundreds of millions into an old, failed, technology which is environmentally unsound, while Renewable Energy technologies such as solar PV attract only a few tens of millions in support, cannot be a sound basis going forward for ensuring national security, security of supply, and leadership in the international fight against global warming.” Solar Century contends that photovoltaics alone could generate the UK’s future power needs. “Take the capability of just one member of the renewable family, solar PV,” Leggett said. “This technology alone could meet the world’s energy demand using less than one percent of land now under crops and pasture. There is no need, however, to occupy such land, since the solar technologies needed can be installed on rooftops. In cloudy Britain, BP has calculated that if we put solar PV on all available roofs and facades – well under one percent of the land area – we could generate far more electricity than the country uses. This means that if we put solar electric roof tiles available today on as few as one in ten British roofs, we could shut down every nuclear plant in the country,” Legget said. In fact if solar technology was strongly supported by the Government, Solar Century anticipates a wealth of economic benefits for the UK. “By building vibrant renewables industries, the government would also unlock a treasure trove of side benefits. In the case of PV, this would include offset building and land opportunity costs, the empowerment of individuals and institutions to become generators and energy managers, stimulated energy-efficiency benefits, a multiplier effect in emerging smart engineering and design technologies, synergistic feedback benefits in design of hybrid renewable and energy-storage technologies, and the attraction of private and foreign investment of the kind that the nuclear industry can now only dream of,” Legget said.
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