London’s Mayor wants to take London off-grid

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Ken Livingstone, seeking re-election as Mayor of London, has told the media that he wants to take the entire city of London, all of it, off-grid. As the world’s most popular, and expensive, city, how London treats the green agenda will set a template for other world capitals, not to mention the rest of the country.

Livingstone said: “We don’t want the normal grid. We want to get everybody off grid.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s nuclear or gas, 65 per cent of energy is wasted in the cooling system.”

“If we have locally done energy it’s 15 per cent. So immediately, if we could wave a magic wand and all of Britain’s energy was coming from local sources you’d reduce your fossil-fuel consumption by 50 per cent. Just being efficient.” Livingstone says is working with French power company EDF to develop his decentralised strategy.

This is something that Fritz Schumacher advocated in huis book “Small is Beautiful” many decades ago and so has this writer ever since. However, both Schumacher and this write have been laughed at for suggesting such things and power stations were made bigger (and better?) and ended up further and further away from the consumer thus causing great loss in transmission along the overhead and underground power lines. The very reason why the electric power produced is not 240V AC at the power stations but several tens of thousands of volts.

Livingstone is the most senior politician worldwide to specifically endorse the concept of off-grid living, and his words will also have an effect on the ruling Labor Party. We recommend Londoners vote Labor in the May 1st Mayoral election.

Livingstone said the main obstacles to making London an off-grid and zero carbon city was Civil Service hostility, specifically at the Department of Energy, which cannot abode the idea of a decentralised energy policy for London. “People in the Department of Energy have done everything possible to block decentralised power,” he said.

“If I were running the country, tomorrow I’d ban plastic bags, I’d ban incandescent light bulbs,” Livingstone said. As long as he is re-elected another showpiece policy to be introduced next year is free bicycles throughout central London, based on the successful Paris model.

“We face a huge catastrophic climate change. We’re close to the tipping point. Stern says four to two years. I met Dr Pauchari, who is the chair of the IPCC, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, when I was in India, and he thinks that we are now past the tipping point and you have got to come up with technologies that will mitigate the effects. If that’s true, sometime over the next 10 years we’ll have to rejig the whole of the economy, like we did in the Second World War.”

The Civil Service hostility that Ken Livingstone talks about as regards a decentralised energy policy is not just there for London but for all of the UK. One of the major obstacles also, I my view, to people being permitted to generate power locally, such as farming estates, Gypsy sites, and even small villages. They cannot hack anything that they have no control over. Not that the Labour party is any different with the nanny state they have created ever since they have been in power. Mr. Livingstone should know that full well and he also knows that this so-called Labour Party of today no longer bears any resemblance to the real true Labour Party of Keir Hardy, Dr. Salter and Fenner Brockway. This is no longer a party for the working people; it is the party of control, of nannying the people, of “we know what's best for you” and, I am afraid, it would appear that Mr. Livingstone is also cut from the same cloth, as he would like to ban outright this and that and the other.

In the same way as the Eco-Towns where, unlike it is with their counterparts in Germany, such as Freiburg, where it is a voluntary choice of people not to own a car, certain residents will be told that they will not be allowed to own a car. This all under the same attitude of this Labour government; it is all for our best, they say.

© M Smith (Veshengro), April 2008