BWEA becomes RenewableUK; officially

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, England, March 4, 2010: It was announced today during a press conference held at the QEII Center in Westminster during the “Wave & Tidal 2010” conference dealing, with, obviously, all matters of creating electricity from wave and tidal currents, that the BWEA (British Wind Energy Association) was changing its name officially to “RenewableUK”. This has been muted for some time already but now the change is complete and official.

So “goo bye BWEA and hello RenewableUK”.

Besides wind energy RenewableUK's remit is now, so we are told, the representation of the entire renewable energy sector in Britain. Somewhere along the line, though, I seem to have been missing the solar power part of it as well as one or two other renewable power generating sources that could and should be encompassed.

While it is true that solar will not and cannot play as big a role in Britain as in more sun-rich countries and that we have more wind and wave action for use in renewable power generation there are other areas of renewable electricity production that we must also consider as an addition. Those two must be covered and not just the large sectors of wave, tidal and wind.

On top of that we need much more concentration on micro-generation of electricity. We are well too much with our heads, industry and government, in the clouds and only seem to see the huge plants creating the megawatt and gigawatt on output.

In fact, we must rethink the entire renewable power issue and go for much more local – very local, in fact – electricity production. It can be done, is being done and ain't rocket science.

The question was raised, or more a comment made, as to back-up to wave, tidal and wind, calling it “intermittent” supplies: There is our problem with the current electricity infrastructure. We are using alternative current (AC) which cannot be stored, unlike direct current (DC), and also has great voltage drop on long distance as compared to DC.

While I know why AC was chosen when using the high voltages we use, DC would be much more effective and efficient, especially if we used it at low voltages, as it is done in many places, stored the energy in deep-cycle lead-acid batteries and, if and where needed, inverted the power.

We have a great opportunity now, where we have to rethink how we live and act as far as the environment and climate change is concerned, to entirely rework and restructure the electricity network to one that – one – is safer because of using low voltages of 12 volts DC (or 24 V DC if needed or wanted), safer because it is nigh on impossible to kill yourself with 12V DC, and – two – where energy produced by renewable sources of all kinds can be stored for times when the wind does not blow, the waves don't wave and the tides don't tide and the sun don't shine. Again not rocket science but no political will.

And as we now have arrived at politicians – oh my G-d – the minister was doing a lot of waffling but giving journalists asking questions rarely a straight answer. While we all know that that is what they all seem to be about it is some thing to see, for sure.

While claiming that government is committed to renewables it was nigh on like listening to George Monbiot, who never seems to know which side of the green fence he is on and who recently stated that Britain cannot afford renewables and we should go the nuclear way. We also cannot afford nuclear for the legacy that we would leave would be one that would endanger the Planet at a later stage.

We have only one real option, that of renewable power, from a variety of sources, and there are not just wind, wave, tidal and, eventually, sun. There is also the possibility, at micro-generating level as well a larger scale, to use the currents of rivers, as well as methane gas in more conventional set-ups.

The coal, oil and natural gas option is non-sustainable and must be left behind in due course and, I think, we will be forced to leave it behind anyway. But, unless we get the other options on-stream the lights will go out; period.

© 2010