A trilemma we all share

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations

I listened to nPower's Paul Bowtell the other day at a Wildlife Trust Corporate Green Awards breakfast.  He talked about the company's "trilemma" of

Moving to a low carbon economy
Maintain a secure supply
Keeping energy affordable

... all at the same time.  If this were a circle, it would certainly be hard to square.  But's that's just what we're all trying to do.  Actually, he might have said that nPower was learning how to

move to a low carbon economy
maintain a secure supply
keep energy affordable

... but he didn't.   It doesn't seem to cynical to think that it's the last of these that will prove the weakest leg of this stool.

Bowtell also talked at length about nPower's Tilbury power station that has been converted to burn biomass.  He talked about the fire that erupted as they learned how to manage the place, but didn't mention that the driving force for this shift comes, not for some company zeal for renewables, but from the EU tax-payers' generosity – not that we had much say in the matter, of course.  nPower (actually, the German RWE) gets £45 per megawatt hour on top of what it sells its biomass electricity for.   The Economist gives further details of this policy which seems beyond financial sense in a piece it called Bonfire of the Subsidies.

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations


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