Realistic expectations

Written by: Justin Cunningham | Published:

There is quite a lot of debate at the moment around fracking that is leading to wider discussions about the UK's energy mix. The problem is largely one of ignorance and desire of the impossible. Politicians have been unable to get the message across that compromises have to be made and that cheap, clean, ubiquitous energy is not yet a possibility for the UK.

Every form of power generation from solar to nuclear has its good and bad points. The problem, however, is that many politicians have either failed to grasp what they are, choose to omit facts to suit their arguments, or have been unable to convince the masses of a particular technology.

There seems to be protests around just about every form of energy generation at the moment from fracking to nuclear to unsightly wind farms both off and onshore. And, if you think wave or tidal power is the answer, recent reports highlighting the potential damaging effects on marine life are putting somewhat of a kibosh on mass roll out anytime soon. There is solar, of course, but let's be serious, this is the UK we're talking about.

The problem is the UK is laden with aging infrastructure that has been sweat dry. Now many power stations are in dire need of investment, refurbishment or all together restoration. And at the same time the cost of energy is being increasingly scrutinised. Promises to freeze prices are a political folly and really go no way in actually addressing the real elephant in the room, which is our future energy requirement.

So just what are we to do? There is a need for strong leadership from our politicians, but that needs to be focussed and influenced by industry, which needs to step away from the politics and give a clear reality check about what can be undertaken.

The UK has a number of large high profile engineering projects going through at the moment besides fracking such as the High Speed 2 railway line and Heathrow's capacity issues to soon face similar limelight and criticism.

While traditional manufacturing is receiving a boost in popularity, large Government-led engineering projects are failing to capture public imagination in quite the same way. Politicians can certainly take some of the blame for playing politics, but they cannot take it all.

Industry and engineering leaders need to be a voice of reason to give informed and well rounded opinion to both our country's leaders as well as the general public at large, even if it is not what either might want to hear.


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