As my first post on Technology, I thought we could explore what is meant by Green Energy. First, of course, we have to dismiss the idea that any energy is green, or any other colour, as even colour is in the eye of the beholder, and Greenness meaning eco friendly is not anything energy can be. It is the manner of arrival and use that is ‘Green’ or not. By ‘Green’ I mean planet friendly.
Growing a tree is not green if it falls down and rots, giving off methane in the process. Growing a tree is green if you then store the wood (carbon) in the form of a house, table, or even sculpture, carbon taken from an atmosphere where it is in excess is good and green.
In the same way, none of the following are ‘green’ in their own right: Nuclear Power, Coal and Oil Fired Power Stations, Solar Power, Wind Power, Wave Power, Hydroelectric Power, and Cycle Power!
If you cycle to work, it might seem green, but if you could have caught the train you would have used up less of your CO2 allocation! Cycling is a very inefficient means of converting food into movement of weight!
Hydrolectric Power seldom comes naturally, if ever, usually trees are lost, homes are lost, the wilderness is lost.
Energy taken from waves and tides will lead to changes in the local ecosystems, like the Severn Barrage, if it is built, will have a major impact on local wildlife.
And even if solar panels could be made of wood, they would be cutting out the sun from areas which perhaps could be used to grow food, even on your roof!
So how are we to decide what kind of energy systems we want in this country? The hard answer to this question is probably that there is no right answer. It depends on your point of view. If you are in a small country and the only land left will be taken by a dam then it seems not unreasonable to say no. If you think that what happens for the next 50 generations is as important as the next 2, than you may choose to be against nuclear power, or you may think that what happens in the next 50 years will so affect the next 50 generations that nuclear power is the best option.
Given those uncertainties it would seem sensible to think of energy as being at best neutral. The energy you don’t use definitely does not cause global warming. If you stay fit, stay slimmish, keep healthy, then you contribute more and consume less. And if you make things out of wood, and keep them, you have certainly taken carbon out of the atmosphere, and if you plant a tree where that one stood, then you can do it again.