Key Choices for the UK – Renewable Energy & Energy Conservation

CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY LINK PRESS RELEASE 14 April 2011.

With the UK’s plans for more nuclear power looking increasingly precarious as a result of the economic fallout from the stricken Fukushima plant in Japan, Christian Ecology Link is urging the Government not to return to burning coal, but to turn to renewable energy, and invest in insulating Britain’s notoriously inefficient homes. According to Christian Ecology Link, this twin strategy to bridge the “Energy Gap” will not only protect God’s Creation, it will also protect the vulnerable, and the NHS budget, from the scandalous toll of excess winter deaths and illness.

Economic Risks and Energy Pathways

As a result of the ongoing nuclear power plant crisis in Japan, the need to increase insurance cover and safety measures for new nuclear plants in the United Kingdom will make the cost of energy for British taxpayers and bill payers higher than ever.

Yet, even though we may not be able to afford nuclear power, we cannot risk greater catastrophic damage to the climate by returning to burning more coal to generate electricity, as carbon capture and storage (CCS) remains widely unavailable and the technologies are costly.

If we build new coal-fired power plants without CCS, we will be forced to pay the full carbon cost, and potentially be required to close the plants down in the near future due to European law. This is not a sensible route to take.

The UK’s Energy Security and Green Economy Bill

Renewable Energy in the UK is rising fast [1], but Christian Ecology Link believe that the Energy Bill [2] currently going through Parliament does not do enough to stimulate green electricity investment or the insulation of homes and offices. We support Stop Climate Chaos in their efforts to strengthen the UK’s Energy Bill.

Christian Ecology Link fully supports the Renewable Energy targets for the UK [3], and we also support efforts to increase those targets at the European Union level. We also support the adoption of the highest targets recommended by the Climate Change Committee’s Fourth Carbon Budget [4].

We have called on our members to lobby their MPs to support the Stop Climate Chaos Warm Homes Amendment to the Bill [5] , and we are playing our part in the Big Climate Reconnection [6], with local political action to call for lower fuel bills, warmer healthier homes, carbon targets, global leadership, green jobs and a clean economy.

[1] Renewable Energy is rising fast:
http://www.newenergyworldnetwork.com/renewable-energy-news/by-technology/wind/uk-wind-power-increases-24-in-q4-2010.html

[2] UK Energy Bill going through Parliament (now completed editor Oct 2011)
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/legislation/energy_act2011/energy_act2011.aspx

[3] Renewable Energy Targets for the UK:
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/uk_supply/energy_mix/renewable/res/res.aspx

[4] Climate Change Committee’s Fourth Carbon Budget
http://www.theccc.org.uk/reports/fourth-carbon-budget

[5] Stop Climate Chaos Warm Homes Amendment to the Bill 
http://www.demandabetterbill.org.uk

[6] The Big Climate Reconnection http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/the-big-connection

[7] Shale Gas is a Global Phenomemon
http://www.eia.doe.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=811

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Notes for Editors
The Future for Natural Gas in the UK
The more renewable energy we deploy, the less Natural Gas we will need to burn to generate electricity in our power stations.

The less Natural Gas we need to burn to make electricity, the cheaper our national gas bill will be, rewarding us for our new green electricity investment.

If we follow a programme of extensive insulation of buildings, the less Natural Gas we will need to burn for space and heating, making our household and business bills cheaper for the gas central heating we do still need.

Why Natural Gas Can’t Fix It For Us

Although it has half the emissions of coal, and is the logical middle way, burning Natural Gas to generate electricity has significant limitations.

The North Sea gas fields are in decline, and buying Natural Gas from Russia and the Middle East is politically sensitive and risks the integrity of our energy security.

The US Department of Energy has just released a report claiming that Unconventional (Shale) Gas will take the place of Natural Gas [7], but there are strong environmental reasons why this will be resisted.

Unconventional Gas has carbon dioxide and fugitive methane emissions that make it almost as dirty as coal. Plus, local environmental contamination, particularly of water supplies, make hydraulic fracturing suspect and it will be subject to increasing regulation.

This makes reducing our use of energy and the development of renewable energy generation imperative.

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