Friday, May 26, 2006

Swede-ness and light

Garbage in, garbage out, goes the old saying. In the light of that, a BBC survey of UK energy preferences reveals more wisdom in the public than amongst some specialists.

BBC respondent's ideal mix of energy generation technologies at least included 10% - 39bn kWh - of demand reduction, despite the fact that too many energy experts seldom stray beyond talk of a gap.

Those experts are debating whether Coca Cola or Sunny Delight is better for obesity. At least some of the public recognise we should reduce consumption of both and go for more walks as well.

The Swedish government is planning to radically reduce emissions and - supposedly - phase out oil dependence by 2020. At the same time, they say, they will phase out nuclear, which currently generates nearly half of electricity supply (more than twice the UK proportion). How? Through demand management. As has been well said, "energy is an infrastructure issue, not a commodity issue".

It won't be easy, but Sweden has a good track record in innovation, competitiveness and quality of life improvements. They are already better equipped to tackle the deeper political and cultural challenges necessary. More important, they're focussed and have a can-do attitude. I've written a short article about this for a forthcoming issue of Director magazine, which doesn't add up to much. Let's see some proper studies please!

(There are, of course, some very sensible energy specialists and experts in the UK. I'm not talking about them)

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