Why is it so difficult?
I had lunch on Monday with a cousin of mine who runs a medium size farm. For a long time he has been interested in improving its sustainability. Recently he’s been putting a lot of effort into the feasibility of getting an anaerobic digester to turn farm waste into green electricity – going so far to visit working projects in Germany to get his head around the various systems available. A perfect project you would think: reliable and predictable green energy production, waste reduction, farm diversification etc, etc.
But, he complains, the local electricity company wants to charge a fortune for a grid connection (and even for an upgrade to their cables), the planning system is onerous and the ‘experts’ he has working on the project are treating it like a hobby. You’d think nobody wanted the project to happen.
When I interviewed Glen Bennett of EAE Ltd for The Green Executive two years ago, he told a similar tale about getting his wind turbine installed – crushing bureaucracy, obstructive jobsworths and amateurish suppliers. It was only his bullheadedness that saw the project through.
I can’t help thinking it is about time everyone started taking this seriously. The existing distribution industry and the planning authorities have got to hunt down and destroy the structural and attitudinal barriers to small scale generation. And the renewable energy industry has to pull its finger out,too. Suppliers and advisers have to realise they are running a business and impacting on other people’s businesses – and stop messing around.
If we really want green energy then it can’t go on this way.