Storm Arwen lessons are serious for our society
6th Dec 2021
No society wants to go backwards in its development. We always strive to improve how we live. The challenges around Net Zero will not be met if we have to adopt a “hair shirt approach” to meeting this target. We are a developed nation; on the whole, we are not used to going without power, heat, water and food. But last week’s storm brought this misery upon millions – not a few unlucky households but swathes of the north. (As an aside, when a similar storm hit the south of England a few years back we had Parliamentary inquiries into it, not so much fuss this time).
The storm, hitting overhead power cables as it did, highlighted just how dependent we have become on electricity and how vulnerable our infrastructure is. It’s a given we can’t control the weather and it’s almost certain that climate change risks making these storms more frequent and more intense, so how do we plan to mitigate the impact?
Simply repairing the damage and replacing broken infrastructure will just leave us just as vulnerable as we were the day before the storm hit. That’s not mitigation. So we need to build back better, but also just reflect upon whether this weather event should halt the headlong rush into all out electrification of our energy needs.
For some, their gas cookers or log burners have been a literal lifesaver. But for many others power outages have meant leaving their homes. Massive disruption, however it was dealt with. Now let’s turn to the elephant on the room. With this stark lesson so fresh in our minds, why are some advocating putting all our energy needs into the electric basket? Are the power networks suddenly going to become less vulnerable to outages? Will the wind always blow, at appropriate levels, and sun shine to provide our power needs? The answer to both is no.
So practical solutions are needed. We know what they are. So should those who advocate an all-electric future, while in the evening they sit warm and comfortable in their gas centrally-heated homes