Examination of Witness (Questions 532-539)|
TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2001
532. Good morning, Mr Tindale. Mr Spencer is
(Mr Tindale) Yes, I am afraid so. He is our expert
on climate change and renewables, so I will endeavour to answer
the Committee's questions, but if there are levels of detail which
I cannot answer, then I will write to you afterwards.
533. Thanks very much, we appreciate that. These
things happen and we understand. Having said that, we may have
to start off in areas about renewables. You are advocating a target
of about 50 per cent of current electricity to be derived from
renewables, and the closure of all nuclear stations. We have been
advised that this combination of policies would lead to a saving
of probably about 22 million tonnes of oil equivalent or ten per
cent of our total fossil fuel use by 2020. That is a fairly limited
payback for what is quite a substantial cost. Could you try and
justify it to us please?
(Mr Tindale) The important point about energy policy
and the reason why we welcome the 50-year timescale for the PIU
study is the trajectory that you are on. It is not so much where
you are at at a particular year and one of the problems with targets
is that too much emphasis tends to be placed on points in time.
The important essential objective in energy policy is to be on
a trajectory to phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power for two
different reasons: fossil fuels because of climate change reasons;
and nuclear power for nuclear waste reasons. So we need to get
out of those two energy sources and we need, therefore, to move
to a situation where we are 100 per cent reliant on different
renewable energy sources and it is important, we think, to bear
in mind that you can still have a balanced and diverse energy
policy within what is currently referred to as `renewables'; you
can have wind power, you can have wave power, you can have solar
power, you can have biomass and you can have tidal. So we are
not so concerned about the point in time of 2020 as we are about
the trajectory. Having said that, we think that the costs of the
targets that we have proposed would not be unreasonable and I
draw the Committee's attention to the PIU scoping note on renewable
energy which looks at the economic potential for renewables at
a cost of 4p per kilowatt hour or less and we could meet the targets
that we are proposing within that level.
Chairman: We might come back to a couple of
these points later, but I think Mrs Lawrence would like to come
534. If I could move on to job potential in
the future, you claim that investment in renewables would lead
to significant job opportunities. Can you give us a comparison
as to how that would rate against job losses in the nuclear industry?
(Mr Tindale) We used the figures that the wind energy
uses on potential jobs in that sector and they, the British Wind
Energy Association, have talked about the potential for 5,000
direct jobs and 19,000 indirect jobs from a programme of meeting
around 10 per cent of the UK electricity need from wind. Border
Wind, now part of Airnet, has come out with a higher estimate
which is that you could create 36,000 jobs, direct and indirect
jobs, from a 10 per cent target.
535. There are two significantly different estimates
there. What are the differing factors in working out those differing
(Mr Tindale) I think the answer is simply that there
is a great deal of uncertainty in this type of estimate and that
there are different definitions of what you count as an indirect
job flowing from a particular investment or industrial pattern.
I think even if you accept the lower estimate of 19,000, that
is a very significant new industrial sector and indirect jobs
dependent on it and it compares favourably with current employment
in both the nuclear industry and the fossil fuel industry.
536. Can you give us a bit of a description
about the difference, what you would class as direct and indirect
and what categories they would fall into?
(Mr Tindale) A direct job is one that is working for
a company that is manufacturing wind turbines or the electronics
that are needed or the other parts that are needed. The indirect
jobs are as a result of spending in local communities and so on,
the increased spending in local communities resulting from that
537. One of the features of post-war electricity
generation in the UK has been that most of the generating capability
has been British and it has often been acquired at unreasonable
expense and there has been significantly little in the way of
exports generated by what was in those days public expenditure.
Why should it be any different now with renewable energy equivalent?
(Mr Tindale) Well, I am not an expert in the reasons
for the UK's comparatively poor export performance in the past,
so I am not sure I am the best person to answer your question,
but I do think that a number of bodies charged with looking at
the UK's industrial performance, including the Foresight panels,
including Scottish Enterprise, have identified this as an area
for major export. Now, if there are particular obstacles in terms
of the performance of UK Government or the performance of UK industry
that mean that we have not exported as much as we should have
in the past, then those clearly need to be addressed, but those
are outside the expertise of Greenpeace.
538. They may or may not be outside your expertise,
but the fact that equipment has a Union Jack on it does not necessarily
make it intrinsically attractive to foreign purchasers. That is
the first point. Secondly, we are in a position, as I understand
it, where we are somewhat far behind the game as far as renewables
are concerned if we look at our fellow members of the Community,
people like the Dutch and the Danes, for example. They are ahead
of us in the technology stakes and they have a better industrial
capability at the present moment, so why will they not take advantage
of the world markets in a way that we probably will not be able
to do because we are that far behind?
(Mr Tindale) First of all, I should say Greenpeace
is a global organisation and we have both Dutch and Danish offices,
so we are not particularly in the business of promoting UK manufacturers
539. But, with respect, if we are going to export,
it is at the expense of other people and it is on the basis that
we are better or we could be better than them and I am trying
to establish why.
(Mr Tindale) I absolutely agree with your point that
the fact that something has a Union Jack on it will not necessarily
sell it. I would say two things: first of all, that there are
technologies and I would point particularly to wave where it is
not too late to be the first mover