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Guest Blog: If only - my rewrite of the PM's shale gas article

by Elizabeth Block

We cannot afford to miss out on renewables. Safe development of renewable energy will cut energy bills and create wealth without ruining precious countryside, writes David Cameron, or so I wish (We cannot afford to miss out on shale gas, The Telegraph.*)

Britain has led the way in technological endeavour: renewables are part of this tradition.

Balcombe in West Sussex has found itself at the heart of a debate over hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Renewable energy has become a national debate in Britain – and it’s one that I’m determined to win. If we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive. Without it, we could lose ground in the tough global race.

As with any advance in technology, renewable energy has rightly drawn scrutiny. But a lot of myths have also sprung up. So today I want to set out why I support it – and deal with the worst of the myths at the same time.

First, renewables have real potential to drive energy bills down. Labour’s mismanagement of the economy means that many people are struggling with the cost of living today. Where we can act to relieve the pressure, we must. It’s simple – gas and electric bills can go down when our home-grown energy supply goes up. We’re not turning our back on low carbon energy, and these sources could be enough, given proper support. Latest estimates suggest that Britain could lead the world in wind, wave and tidal.

Latest estimates suggest that
Britain could lead the world
in wind, wave and tidal.

This renewable resource will help people across the country who work hard and want to get on: not just families but businesses too, who are really struggling with the high costs of energy. Just look at the United States: two reports from the Department of Energy of 6 August 2013 showcase record growth across the US wind market, supporting an increase in America’s share of clean, renewable energy and tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

According to these two reports, the US continues to be one of the world's largest and fastest growing wind markets. In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new US electricity generation capacity for the first time – representing 43% of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in US investment.

And the Department of Energy has its SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar electricity cost competitive without subsidies by the end of the decade.

Even if we only see a fraction of the impact that renewables have had in America, we can expect to see lower energy prices in this country.

Secondly, renewables will create jobs in Britain. In fact, one recent study by the Renewable Energy Association predicted that clean energy will create 400,000 jobs by 2020 – just to meet the UK’s renewable targets. It’s not just those involved in development. Just as with North Sea oil and gas, there would be a whole supply chain of new businesses, more investment and fresh expertise.

*As rewritten by Elizabeth Block, 12 August 2013.

Elizabeth Block is a freelance journalist based in the UK.



Posted 12/08/2013 by Elizabeth Block

Tagged under: shale gas , Elizabeth Block

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