Great strides have been made towards cleaner energy

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Until quite recently, the notion that much more than a fraction of our energy needs would come from renewable sources seemed fantastical.

We would always need vast amounts of fossil fuels, it was thought.

This is still true, but perhaps not quite as much fossil fuels will be needed as was previously assumed.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the technology behind the utilising of renewable sources — sun, wind, waves, rain and geothermal heat — continues to advance rapidly and make it ever more economically feasible.

Second, huge strides are being made in energy efficiency.

Homes, for example, are far better insulated than they were only a few decades ago, and so need much less fuel to heat. Cars drive for much greater distances on the same amount of fuel than before. And low energy lighting is slashing one of the core aspects of electricity usage.

These two factors combined mean that already more than a third of power in Northern Ireland is driven by renewable sources. The Province has good wind and wave potential.

It is reported today that all venues in the Beannchor Group hospitality organisation are using 100% renewable energy, after it agreed a £500,000 renewable electricity contract.

This development is an illustration of the great strides that are being made to help make the planet less polluted.

Not everything is rosy though in the world of energy and the related world of waste management.

Recycling, which seeks to reduce our waste and consumption, is running into difficulties in Europe, while renewable power has its drawbacks. In Northern Ireland, for example, the number of suitable sites for wind turbines is limited by the haphazard single-dwelling pattern of housing development that the main political parties have sought to preserve.

But while huge challenges lie ahead, it is right to recognise the progress that has been made towards clean energy.