Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

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Councillor Kieran Quinn

Renewable energy boost

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Renewable energy boostEfforts to transform the UK’s energy mix reached another milestone this week after a government auction for energy project subsidies saw successful bidders agree to build wind turbines for the lowest prices ever.

These auctions are the process where the government agrees the price it will pay for the electricity generated at new energy plants. At the last auction engineering firms agreed to build new offshore wind turbines for which the government will pay £57.50 for each megawatt hour of electricity generated. To put that in to context, in 2015 the price agreed for similar projects was between £114 and £120 per MWh, around double. This fall in prices is significant, and as a country it will help us increase the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources, something that we desperately need to do.

In the league table of European Countries, at just 7.29% in 2014, we are close to the bottom when it comes to how much of our energy comes from clean and green sources. The only places which aren’t small islands or our own overseas territories which use less renewable energy are Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. In the Scandinavian countries the figure is consistenly above 40%, with the Icelandics particularly standing out, generating 76% of their energy without dirty fossil fuels.

The extreme weather events of recent weeks have brought in to sharp focus why the transition to green energy is essential and must be accelerated. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which have wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and North America, are part of one the most destructive hurricane seasons the region has experienced.

Followed by hurricane Jose, which is currently swirling in the Atlantic, 2017 is the first time since 2010 that three hurricanes have been active in the area at the same time. Whilst still crunching the numbers on exactly how man made climate change has generated the circumstances that have given rise to this situation, climate scientists are in no doubt that greenhouse gas emissions have played a role.

On climate change the slogan is “think global, act local” and here in Tameside that is exactly what we’ve tried to do. At one end of the scale the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which is administered by Tameside Council, was part of a consortium that purchased a 49.9% stake in the Clyde onshore wind farm. Our investment triggered the further expansion of the farm to increase generating capacity by 172.8MW.

At the other end of the scale the Council’s tree planting programme has seen over 4,000 new trees planted in parks and open spaces across the Borough which will, during their lifetime, offset thousands of tonnes of Carbon emissions. Our drive to improve our recycling rate has also diverted more waste from landfill, reducing the amount of energy expended on manufacturing new paper and plastics and mining new metal.

All branches of government and all organisations and individuals have a role to play in helping to reduce the impact of the worst excesses of man-made climate change. We in Tameside are playing our part and I sincerely hope that the government play their part. They could start by using the new lower subsidies as an opportunity to commission more renewable energy generating projects and dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

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