Here’s Greenpeace’s Executive Director John Sauven on the British energy plant:
"If this plan becomes a reality, it will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and make Britain a safer and more prosperous country. This will be good for the British economy and, in the long-run, save householders money as we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas.
This is likely part of what pleases Sauven:
Up to £180m would be made available to promote wind and tidal power – this includes setting up a low-carbon economic area in the south-west to promote marine technologies and money for up to 3,000 wind turbines off the UK's shores by 2020.
And why not? As Britain reworks its energy regime, renewables are extremely valuable – both in themselves and for gaining enough traction and resources to work on issues of scale and reliability. By 2020, those 3000 turbines might be fewer or might be capable of generating more electricity than currently anticipated. A big order and long timeframe can be great for innovation.
But subsidies can be a problem – when it’s nuclear energy.
[…] Business Secretary Lord Mandelson […] stated in June: "We are not going to achieve a competitive [nuclear] sector by handing out subsidies. We are not in the business of giving out subsidies. We are in the business of maintaining a level playing field."
Well, as seen above, no. And:
Yet to some observers, low carbon technologies do not appear to be competing on a level playing field. [EDF Energy chief executive Vincent] de Rivaz and other major utilities such as E.ON and RWE have been quick to point out that the more photogenic generation sources such as wind and solar are the beneficiaries of generous subsidies and tax breaks. Equally, carbon capture and storage technology is receiving massive R&D funding and incentives. For all the government's rhetoric on free market attitudes, it has effectively picked its winners already.
Energy Secretary Ed Miliband sounds as though he knows where his fights may come from:
Critics of turbines, which can be more than 300ft high, say they disfigure the landscape and cause noise. Some engineers also question whether they are efficient enough to be economically viable but Mr Miliband said people must come to accept wind farms as a necessary part of Britain's energy sector.
He said ministers would be sensitive to residents' concerns about turbines, but insisted: "They have to go somewhere."
And if he anticipates a fight on wind, imagine adding nuclear to that. Why, nuclear units eat up space – er, sound like a hundred engines going at once – um, well, we joke. Every energy source has a downside. And as we mentioned, it’s possible the wind industry will mitigate some of them.
Shaun Spiers, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the group supported the expansion of renewable energy but the countryside must be protected. "There will be no public consent for renewable energy infrastructure if it is centrally imposed or causes great damage to the beauty of England's countryside," he said.
NIMBY - this will be the big fight, we suspect.
We wondered what Lord Mandelson looked like. Pretty much like this.