Sympathetic Stupid

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Can We Set Our Sights A Little Lower?

Power generation is a sticky little problem. Of course consumers won't willingly curtail their lifestyle just for the sake of the future; fuck it, the future will take care of itself. So power needs aren't going to drop. And paying more for it because it comes from a wind-farm at Portland - what's the incentive? Do the volts coming out of the powerpoint actually look green?

Well, maybe we can rely on the power companies to look after the future of the ecosystem in which they operate and to work on switching the majority of their generation capacity to renewables, because that way... Hang on, would it hurt the next P&L statement? There's the door; don't let it hit you in the arse on the way out.

I guess it's up to government to do what everyone knows is the right thing (except a few economists, and scientists, and journalists, and rival politicians). A top-down approach. A Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. Everyone will gradually pay a little more for their power but the race might live a few more generations. And maybe there'll be an incentive to use a little less? Well, that's probably a fairy tale.

But governments the world over are doing this sort of thing. The EU just reviewed their renewable energy target; by 2020, they'll have 20% of power coming from renewables. Not bad, and with savings targets that might make a 33% improvement. But what's the point if Europe are the only ones to do it? The Poms don't really listen to them, but they're going for 10% by 2010.

Hang on, didn't China have a go recently? That's right, they're aiming at 10% by 2020. Not bad for commies in the fastest growing economy in the world.

Any others? Well, those crazy cats in New Zealand were sitting at 29% renewable energy in 2000, with a target of a 20-odd percent improvement by 2012. How about this list. Wacky Scandinavians, of course: Denmark 29% by 2010, Finland 35% by 2010, Netherlands 12% by 2010, Sweden 60% by 2010. Poor countries? Mali 15% by 2020, Latvia 49.3% by 2010, Estonia (!) 5.1% by 2010.

How about Australia? How does a 2% target sound? Ridiculous, right, because we don't have room for wind farms or solar panels. Or the right countryside for geothermal holes. Who are we kidding?

That's right, we're at 2% by 2020, sitting down here with Hungary (3.6% by 2010) and Turkey (2% from wind by 2010). And probably, the US, which as far as I can tell has no target whatsoever.

Fucking pathetic.