Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mix that Energy!

One problem with the free market is that it is forever chasing the best deal for today, not necessarily the best deal for tomorrow. That is not to suggest that the alternatives to a free market are actually better. The problem is in the timespan considered for planning purposes.

Most forms of energy infrastructure need considerable timespans for planning, building and operating if they are to be economic in the long run. Certainly these timespans are a lot longer (perhaps in the order of 5 to 8 times) than the typical government term. This means that central planning is usually for some distant future timetable and therefore cannot seriously be considered a vote catcher.

So it is with the current energy debate, though hats off to Mr. Blair for re-introducing nuclear into the mix. This acknowledgment of Mr. Blair's bravery does not mean that I believe nuclear is the answer to all our problems. More that I see a balanced debate taking into account all the options as the only way forward.

The chicken littles who protest for the sake of protesting are doing society a great dis-service. They are condemning future generations to lost opportunities.

So while we are at it, let's look at all forms of energy supply seriously and candidly. Let's also look at significant ways to reduce energy waste, whether in the way the energy is converted for our use or at the end user's home or office. And let's be honest about the risks and downsides of each option.

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