I would like to begin this article with a simple plea.
The terms alternative energy, micro-generation and green energy doesn’t inspire one or cut the mustard. A better way to describe solar panels, wind turbines and other similar technologies would be self-generation technologies.
These phrases used within our industries, are doing us a disservice because they demean, belittle and merely paint an incorrect picture of the benefits which these types of systems provide.
To Mr Joe Bloggs, green energy is not an option for his home because he wants to save money, not worry about the planet. Why on earth (excuse the pun) would he wish to pay for an expensive system which only benefits the environment?
In a different universe, where solar panels are commonly known as self-generation technologies, suddenly Mr Bloggs decides he does have another option. He can say ‘No’ to paying ever-escalating energy bills and ‘Yes’ to generating his power, which will ultimately benefit him.
The whole eco thing doesn’t enter his head, but once installed, the environment still benefits secondarily. Mr and Mrs Jones next door will then show interest -not wanting to be left behind.
Even large-scale wind turbines will become more acceptable because whole villages will see the benefits of having self-generating power for the benefit of the people living there, not just the environment as is currently the problem now. Village rivalry, just like the example of the Jones’s could drive the self-generation economy to spread.
Two steps forward and one step back
Looking at the longer-term view for traditional energy pricing does not look good.
The re-alignment of wholesale and resale pricing recently, although welcomed, does reflect the long-term outlook for the oil, gas and electricity prices as they continue to rise by 10-20% but lowered by 5%, which describe as two steps forward and one step back.
The energy industry’s own forecast predicts an average annual energy bill by 2020 to be £2,000 or more .That is based on nothing going wrong in the supply chain between now and then.
The ability to self-generate suddenly doesn’t seem so crazy now.
Social means tested tariffs
With the recent cuts in energy prices from some of the big six energy companies, (at the time of writing) you may be excused for thinking a 5% cut will bring welcome relief to some of the most impoverished families now stuck in fuel poverty.
Unfortunately, some of the most impoverished families are paying more for their household energy than wealthier families, which cancels out any benefit. This immoral state of affairs needs to tackle through a means-tested social tariff scheme, which will protect the most vulnerable in society from corporate exploitation, especially for essential amenities like electricity and gas.
Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan leaders that got toppled last year, and social unrest spread because like countless other leaders in history they refused help to their people, who faced with unaffordable food and energy prices.
If a society cannot or will not provide the three essential amenities of food, water and warmth, then we can predict that -using history as our guide -more and more social unrest will happen.