Winds of progress on horizon for onshore power

onshore wind

Clarity and progress. That’s a starting point for many people. Those two things have been in short supply for months, but finally a Government announcement gives both.

No, I’m not writing about the lifting of lockdown restrictions for a period including Christmas. We haven’t got clarity on that quite yet anyway. Nor am I referring to the three announcements that Covid-19 vaccines work and will be rolled out imminently. But it’s great news.

What caught my attention is the Guardian’s report that the Government will subsidise onshore wind (and solar). This, in the form of allowing renewable energy to bid for subsidy contracts in an auction. It’s the first time since 2015 they will be allowed to bid.

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted offshore wind to be capable of powering all homes by 2030, it gave rise to an obvious question:

What about onshore? And here is the answer. Power for People should be pleased. Allowing onshore wind and solar projects to potentially feed to the National Grid in this way is a step towards allowing community-led energy projects to make money for communities in the way the campaign envisages. The organisation’s Local Electricity Bill has the backing of more than 220 MPs and caused a stir in Parliament recently. Discussed at an Adjournment Debate, the campaign claimed the Bill drew a probable record number of MPs for such a session.

There is, then, momentum inside and outside the houses of power for renewable energy and sustainable projects to gain a footing. Critics will of course say that the 10-point plan produced by Mr Johnson doesn’t go far enough, invest enough or meet the carbon reduction needs to meet 2050 targets. There remains scepticism when you look at what big companies making noises about their environmentally friendly credentials are actually aiming to achieve. Or their credibility.

It is surely marketing 101 not to ask “what are you willing to change?” if you are one of the biggest historical polluters. That’s exactly what Shell did a few weeks ago, though, to huge hilarity and frustration of environmentalists including Greta Thunberg.

Each time a fossil fuel firm says it will buy, or invest in, renewables, look behind the headlines. Ask yourself, how much, by comparison, that firm is still investing in oil exploration. EDF has made a huge advert campaign about being a clean energy investor recently. Yet that includes nuclear. What is it doing with the nuclear waste it is creating?

Amazon is making huge donations and public play about its environmental credentials. It pronounces on its website: “Online shopping is inherently more environmentally friendly than traditional retailing. The efficiencies of online shopping result in a greener shopping experience than traditional retailing. This study explains some of the benefits of the online shopping model.”

Hmm. Bold claims all round. I’m going to give that “study” a full read – then ask: when you deliver, if you are so environmentally friendly, why isn’t the man driving an electric van? It’s his own, right, because it’s not branded. So how come him delivering directly is better than one van taking thousands of items at once to one physical store, when that delivery could take place in an electric vehicle?

For progress, I will need to be convinced, with a bit of clarity. Let’s hope I can find it in the study.