According to the ancient Greeks, water is the origin of life. Embodied in the primeval god Hydros, who together with Mud formed the earth, it was the first being to emerge at the dawn of creation.
Yet, we pay it so little respect. Water sustains our life on earth, we need it for food, to nourish our bodies, and it protects us from disease to note just a few of its attributes. It may also be our salvation, offering a clean, green source of fuel. Unfortunately for the UK, George Osborne is in power.
But before I go down the road of my beef with George – let me first explain the reasons for this post and why I believe we should be looking to water for our future. Now I’m aware that the following content is a general overview, that I’m not an expert, and that there is already a booming industry, but the point I want to make is that all the progress made so far is at risk of being stifled by what appears to be government sabotaging. That if the government carries on this way we risk losing out to our European cousins, who already spend more on research and development then we do.
I recently interviewed Coventry University professor John Jostins for Produce Business UK. Jostins is leading a project developing hydrogen hybrid delivery vehicles called Microcabs, the bully bonus being that when hydrogen is converted into electricity it emits water vapour. The manufacturer Hyundai is also pioneering the technology for its new passenger car.
Traditionally the problem with hydrogen is in the making and handling, to create the fuel you need to react steam with coal or gas, or by passing an electrical current through water, neither of which are green.
Storing the fuel presents another challenge; it’s highly flammable and if not stored correctly is prone to exploding. It must be compressed and chilled, then placed in insulated tanks. Again, the process is energy draining, and critics say this renders it an expensive alternative to fossil fuel.
However, with the advancement in renewable technology that’s taking place the processes required to create hydrogen are fast becoming not only more environmentally friendly but also cost-effective. There is already great progress being made on the storing of hydrogen that makes it a viable option as a future fuel.
In theory, with practice rapidly catching up, this will create a virtuous circle of green energy, not just to power vehicles but also for commercial and domestic use. Renewable sources are used to create hydrogen, which is then stored for when wind or solar power has downtime. This energy then powers production, from growing food to recycling materials, as well as lighting and heating our homes.
Here we come to the thorn in the side of such progress in Britain. Yes, it’s George giving in to the arrogant climate sceptics within the Tory party. To remove funding for renewable energy, but still bung wads of cash at the fossil fuel companies is utterly baffling, especially when there is overwhelming evidence of the benefits of transferring from dirty to clean energy. Not just the halting of the slow suicide that mankind is undertaking with global warming, but also the opportunity to create a boon of both skilled and manual jobs.
One has to question the reasons for this situation, and my only conclusion is that he suffers from an affliction associated with a particular type of the privately educated, something I call the intelligence delusion.
May I, for just a moment, go on a slight tangent to explain my theory? Essentially, the intelligence delusion is when an average thinker is born to wealthy parents. The parents then pay huge amounts of cash to private schools not only to hot-house their offspring through exams but also to tell them on an hourly basis that they are super intelligent, talented, and amazing people. Had these people been born to dinner ladies or hairdressers, they’d be pushing a broom around a medium-sized Tesco.
Instead, through money and connections they are elevated into positions where they have power over those who are actually pretty clued up. If you don’t believe there are just as many dimwits in the middle and upper classes as there are in the working, try watching an episode of Made in Chelsea without wanting to chuck a brick at the television.
George and his pals seem to lack the visionary thinking required to take what so far has been a thriving industry and turn it into one that could compete with the service sector for GDP contribution. If they were smart, they’d be listening to Sir Nicholas Stern, and taking up his call to action in his book Why Are We Waiting?
The UK is a mature market; we cannot hope to grow significantly on a global platform through the familiar routes of mass production and services. The growing economies of countries such as Vietnam and Ethiopia are snapping at our heels, and the only way forward is to spread our bets with the high-end tech, digital, creative and consultancy industries. The transition to green energy creates not only jobs, but also moves the country towards self-sufficiency, so when the next global crisis hits we’re in a better place to withstand it.
We need to follow the examples of countries such as Norway, Denmark, and Germany. Instead, the Tories are too busy wasting time on regaining the right to torture animals or vilifying single mothers, the disabled, and immigrants to actually see the opportunities available from investing in education, research and the eco industries.
How George has made the UK’s green industries cry: