Much is made of the changing energy landscape in the context of the urgent battle against climate change. Despite the US President’s impulsive, ill-founded scepticism, there seems little reason to doubt the veracity of authoritative reports about the dangers posed by climate change. A UN report warns that countries have not been taking the necessary action to avert the worst consequences.
The Scottish Government has rightly been commended for its many commitments, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to supporting decarbonisation in the public sector and urging us towards low-carbon living and collective action. It was a big step forward, too, when ScottishPower abandoned coal and gas generation in favour of wind power. Smart meters continue to be rolled out, too.
It’s an encouraging picture, even if some politicians fret about a headlong rush to clean energy. Now comes a startling warning, couched in near-apocalyptic terms, from the Institution of Engineers & Shipbuilders in Scotland. Our over-reliance on “unpredictable” green energy and the shuttering of coal-fired power stations could lead to complete power failure. An unstable electricity supply, if allowed to fester, could lead to civil disobedience, severe disruption, and deaths. The loss of fossil-fuel power stations means that restoring electricity after a complete loss of power might take several days. The IESIS also asserts that, in pursuit of reduced emissions, we do not have a robust plan on the long-term security of supply and security of operation.
The dark warnings about deaths and civil disobedience will concentrate minds wonderfully. It is as much as we can do to fervently hope that they will never come about. In the meantime, the IESIS’s wider point might be worthy of further thought – a national energy authority tasked with safeguarding the long-term sustainability of our energy supply and avoiding the increasing risk of blackouts. Better that than risking civil disobedience.
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