The Road to Renewable Energy

The terrible situation in Ukraine is on all of our minds. I’m glad to see that UK aid is matching DEC donations and important work is also being done by local charities that need your support.

You can donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee at dec.org.uk. It’s easier and simpler than donating to something like the red cross directly. It’s easy to opt-out of postal marketing (avoiding the waste) and the donation will be doubled. This is on top of any gift aid, if you are eligible for that.

The UK Government will match pound-for-pound up to £20 million donated by the public to this appeal

In addition to providing aid and support, and imposing tougher sanctions, we need to rapidly accelerate our energy transition away from oil and gas, as this removes power from bad actors.1 Russia has a lot to gain from global heating (from increased land use in the north) and a lot to lose from declining fossil fuel exports.2

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations said for the release of the latest IPCC report:

As current events make all too clear, our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes the global economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises. Instead of slowing down the decarbonization of the global economy, now is the time to accelerate the energy transition to a renewable energy future. Fossil fuels are a dead end – for our planet, for humanity, and yes, for economies… Now is the time to turn rage into action.

This appears to be quite simple in principle and just requires the political will. In the UK’s case we need to electrify as much as possible with heat pumps and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), along with a huge investment in the charging infrastructure to support this.

In parallel, we need to deploy far more renewable generation of wind and solar that can meet demand many times over. When there is excess sun and wind we can produce synthetic methane3 from green hydrogen4 that can then be used in existing infrastructure for when it is dark and still. There are lots of detailed reports on this5, we just need to listen to the experts and get on with it, quickly (much faster than we are currently).

At home we’re doing our bit to reduce our oil and gas usage. I will go into more detail in other posts but here’s a quick summary. When we have to drive we use a battery electric vehicle (BEV) and charge it at the best times to use wind rather than gas generation (I made an app to work out when, as it’s easier to wait a day than drive to Dundee). You can easily lease an EV through salary sacrifice schemes with no upfront payment, enjoy cheap running costs and not pollute your neighbourhood with toxic air and noise.

Unfortunately, we still have a gas boiler in the house but we have added a heat pump (that runs off our solar PV installation) and we plan to add more as part of upcoming renovations. We also took part in the Octopus Energy Winter Workout and managed to use 20% less gas over the last few months (making it into the top 20%). This not only saved us over £40 but avoided almost 200kg of CO₂ emissions. We donated our share of the prize pot to those that need help and Octopus will double it. In total, over 20,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions were saved by the scheme.

While individual actions and donations are necessary, they are not enough. We require collective mass action and strong leadership, so get in touch with your representative and tell them what needs to be done.

Aid (and protest) donations are essential and urgent but we also need to ask ourselves if we are do-nations or do-nothing-nations. Together, we need to end the fossil fuel economy, and soon.


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