Today marks the start of the Global Climate Strike – a week-long series of protests against environmental destruction.
There’ll be lots of griping from the cynics: “it’s not a real strike”, “what do these kids know?”, “they should be at school” etc. But for all the rough edges, I’m glad there’s a climate protest movement big enough to be noticed. And why shouldn’t young people be front-and-centre? They’re the ones who’ll have to live with the long-term consequences of our polluting lifestyles.
That said, let’s not ignore the good news. Progress is being made towards a low carbon economy – not least in Britain. Indeed, this very day we got the results of something called the ‘Contracts for Difference Allocation Round 3’.
It sounds spectacularly boring, I know, but bear with me. Basically, each Allocation Round is an auction in which companies bid to develop new low carbon generating capacity e.g. wind farms, solar panels etc. The bids specify a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate.
Two years ago I wrote about the results of Allocation Round 2, which showed a massive drop in the cost of renewables. Two years on, costs have dropped even further – with the winning bids asking for a guaranteed price of around £40 per megawatt-hour, which is 4p per kilowatt-hour. This is below the wholesale market price of electricity, which means that renewable energy in the UK is now being built without the need for subsidies.
What’s more, many of the winning bids are for offshore wind farms – a bigger engineering challenge than the onshore variety. Ten years ago, I doubt that even the greenest of energy exports were predicting subsidy-free offshore wind power – but it’s happened. Which is great, because the potential resource in the North Sea (and elsewhere) is huge. And while the gas and oil are running out, the wind will keep blowing forever.
So amid the protests, something for this country to be proud of.