Scotsman Opinion Piece: Energy systems will determine the true price, says Andy Kerr

04 January 2014

Reading or listening to the national media or political debates on “green” or “low carbon” issues, the dominant narrative is that “green” is synonymous with “renewable energy”.

In turn, renewable energy is typically equated with renewable electricity, which is largely synonymous with onshore wind – and wind power is, to many eyes, synonymous with “inefficient” or “high cost” or “intrusive”.

So it is difficult not to conclude that delivering green or low carbon intentions must come at a high social or economic cost. Indeed, if intermittent onshore wind power were the only outcome of this low carbon agenda, it would come with a high economic and social cost.

Yet the low carbon activities going on in business, in communities and in public policy in Scotland and around the world bear little relation to this dominant narrative. Instead, much of the focus is on how we deliver the energy services we require – heating, cooling, lighting, mobility – as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Analyses of our current energy systems demonstrate that they have developed in largely ad hoc ways, with political decisions about governance and market arrangements overlying infrastructure planned and built for the last century. Inefficiencies are built in to the system, even though more efficient approaches exist and are commercially viable now – and are used in other countries – for delivering the energy services we need.

Read the full article