Renewables Grid: Protect the climate at the cost of the environment?
The transition to renewable energy here in Germany has sparked off a discussion about the electricity grid. A similar discussion has been going on in the UK. One of the challenges is to get power from areas where it is produced – wind or marine energy from the coast, for instance – to the industrial and population centres, where it’s needed most. When this means new power-lines in areas enjoying nature protection, for instance habitats for particular plants and animals, or even just areas of great natural beauty, there is bound to be conflict. Germany’s federal economics minister and leader of the German Liberal Party the FDP Philip Rösler made the headlines this morning calling for environmental protection legislation to be temporarily shelved in some cases to make way for a quicker extension of the grid. I think this is a conflict we are going to face more and more often as the effects of climate change become more evident and the need to switch to renewables ever more urgent. Would it be too cynical to suggest some industries might want to put off the transition and benefit from a relaxation of environmental standards as the politicians become more desperate to meet emissions requirements? Perhaps. The Economics Minister is certainly laying himself open to criticism by conservationists who accuse him of taking advantage of the climate problem to help industry get round environment legislation. The German ngo NABU says Minister Rösler risks losing public support for the energy transition by suggesting this sort of course. They also stress that there is a “European Grid Declaration on Electricity Network Development and Nature Conservation in Europe“, signed by grid operators and ngos from across the continent.
Interesting times ahead.
DateJune 15, 2012 | 11:23 am