Let’s Have “extended producer responsibility”!

Renewable industry manufacturers, whether they be start-ups or high fliers, are rubbing their hands with anticipation of financial wealth beyond their wildest dreams. Governments can sell their concepts to citizens as climate change solutions, winning votes and ensuring election.

What was a thriving fishing industry in the UK North Sea Dogger Bank area has been sacrificed to the world’s largest wind turbine farm. The Port of Tyne, once famous for shipbuilding and fishing creating thousands of jobs, is to be the base for maintenance teams to oversee the servicing of this massive offshore site. 200 jobs might be created.

Though Britain has exited Europe, it is European partners who will build the base of the wind farm.

This joint venture is between SSE and Equinor

SSE plc (formerly Scottish and Southern Energy plc) is a multinational energy company headquartered in Perth, Scotland.[4][5] It is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. SSE operates in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Equinor are a Norwegian company and their website says ‘We’re Equinor, a broad energy company with more than 20,000 colleagues committed to developing oil, gas, wind and solar energy in more than 30 countries worldwide. We’re dedicated to safety, equality and sustainability. As the largest operator in Norway, a leading international offshore operator and a growing force in renewables, we’re shaping the future of energy. ‘

Many of my blogs cover different areas of mining around the world (for example see https://borderslynn.com/2021/05/03/rare-earth-elements-and-balance-of-power/) which, more often than not, poison those who work within the mines or close to them. Wind Turbines require so many elements which, when mined leave devastation to areas of the world, leaving a high human cost which is not compensated. We cannot have these large projects without putting in place ‘extended producer responsbility’. Climate Change is a result of these activities and we cannot begin to fix it only with greenwashing propaganda.

The COP26 UN climate conference will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. People will talk of reducing to the point of zero, the use of fossil fuels. They will say we will recycle existing plastics and other materials and no longer need to mine and create them using coal, gas and oil. But if you read my blogs, it looks to me, a mere amateur I admit, we will always need coal, gas and oil to produce ‘green-looking’ products, like hydrogen heating systems and fuels.

We will all be told we are winning if we all stop burning coal in the home and replace it with hydrogen heating systems. If we drive electric cars we will reduce harmful emissions to zero. All our electricity will be produced using wind turbine and solar panel renewables, thus shutting down our coal fired power stations.

But from my experience as a consumer, I doubt we will be winners. We have seen this before. Margaret Thatcher campaigned for the Dash for Gas, and many of us had to whip out our coal fires and replace them and our cookers with Natural Gas, thanks to the oilfields of the North Sea piping the gas to us. Of course the gas is running out now and we have to replace the gas central heating in the near future with, as yet, untried and tested, and currently very expensive, blue hydrogen heating systems (greater carbon footprint than coal and gas). We had to stop using the familiar lightbulbs and start using ‘energy efficient’ lightbulbs, but then found they were not efficient after all and it was a scam to make a few people very rich. These bulbs became hazardous waste.

Although we had 200 years of coal left in the ground, we saw our pits close and instead coal was expensively brought to us from Poland, America and Columbia at a time when 40% of our energy still came from coal. Massive unemployment was almost instant as the pits closed one after another, with pit villages becoming Category D.

An extract here of the Category D inhabitants who stayed when it was planned they should leave, is described here: Tom Kitching’s blog:

I drove into Chopwell (Now Tyne and Wear) on a grey Thursday the week before Christmas. Originally a Category A, in 1964 the anticipated loss of the mine in 1966 saw it regraded as a Category D. This is not some small place of a few rows of cottages, but a small town of several thousand people destined for demolition. Parking outside the healthcare centre I was surrounded by proof that Category D had failed in its most central task. Chopwell was abundantly still here.

Governments say we are moving away from fossil fuels. Are we? There will be no need to have smelters? No need to have coke furnaces? (I have linked a couple of my blogs written this year to demonstrate these activities are required to create materials needed to build turbines and many other so called ‘green’ products).

Linking my previous blogs written this month about lithium, let us not forget how the UK government is proud to say these islands have ‘ the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world’, This government website press release explains how planning permission is no longer a hurdle to companies wanting to get into the energy storage business in a big way.

They state :

Removing barriers for energy storage projects, which are discouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities, could treble the number of batteries serving the electricity grid. It will help bring about storage cells that are 5 times bigger than those currently available.

They go on to say:

Flexible technologies like batteries will form part of the UK’s smarter electricity grid, supporting the integration of more low-carbon power, heat and transport technologies, which it is estimated could save the UK energy system up to £40 billion by 2050……

and the direction is new types of batteries:

Last month ministers invested £10 million in the world’s largest and first liquid air battery facility in Manchester. The 50 MW project, to be built in Trafford, will be able to store energy for longer than a lithium battery – helping power 200,000 homes. But today’s announcement could usher in batteries that are even bigger.

As lithium batteries degrade they incur high maintenance solutions. Inventors are working hard to offer solutions (and attract investors). There is BIG MONEY in these ‘green industry projects’.

High profile projects may not pay off in the long term, but for now, investors like ‘green’ ideas and that is where £billions will go as we race to appear as if we might be in time to stop the climate change apocalypse. Maybe this is the ‘dot com bubble’ syndrome, but we cannot have funds create more inequalities and devastation in the world in the name of ‘green ideas’. No matter how you spin it, we must have an inclusive plan for the benefit of all as we work toward repairing this poor planet on which we spin.

But let us build in ‘Extended producer responsibility’ to all projects so that we have no legacy of harm inflicted on an innocent Planet.

So far, from what I read about clearing barriers to planning permission, such as flag ship enterprises like HS2 which is destroying precious landscape as we speak, now we see the Dogger Bank project rearing up and all these massive battery storage ideas springing up.

We still have toxic industries running alongside, these are not being replaced with cleaner energies, they are as well as. It is not transitional to green living, it is additional. There was no oversight to protect the planet from industrial pollution before, and I cannot see signs of that changing. So how can we be optimistic? We need optimism, not fear, but all we get is fear based on past experience.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780749427917
This entry was posted in anthropocene and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.