View from a shed: The tide has changed on energy in King's Lynn
With King’s Lynn slap bang on the front line with regards to the effects of a changing climate, it makes sense to talk about the environment.
As one of the UK’s port towns and having tidal waters that not only shaped our heritage and position in the world, the tide has also shaped our immediate environment.
For hundreds of years, since the river was routed through Lynn, the tides have shaped our immediate area and continue to do so as they cut a swathe through the Norfolk Fenland via the Great Ouse.
It is the UK’s fourth longest river and with one of the highest tidal ranges in the country, which in turn gives way to The Eagre, a tidal bore that can be seen from The Wiggenhalls and Stow Bridge.
It is said that the power of the incoming tide alone could boil every kettle in West Norfolk if harnessed. Tidal power is probably the cleanest of all renewable energies and definitely the most predictable.
The tide changes in Lynn every 12 hours 20 minutes or so, It’s a moon thing and who knows, one day, years from now, we may see small ‘boats’ anchored along the river’s course, just sitting there, bobbing up and down, all connected to under water turbines and cables to the shoreline connected to the national grid powering our homes.
And whilst public attitudes to wind turbines have changed, many homeowners have also cottoned on to the fact that when the wind is supplying more energy than the nation needs, some energy companies actually pay their customers to take energy from them!
There is a growing number of people in the UK now being paid to charge their electric vehicles and residential battery systems when it is‘too windy’, rather than turning them off and paying out subsidies to land owners who littered the countryside during the feed-in tariff free for all.
Our natural environment brings a plethora of benefits for all of us, be it an abundance of renewable energy or somewhere to go for relaxation, leisure and pleasure and what better than Norfolk’s big open skies to clear the head and appreciate what’s important in life.
Fresh air. You can’t beat it. And it’s free!
And to think was only four years ago, Great Britain celebrated its first coal free hour with regards to the National Grid energy mix. That one hour became a day, then several days, then we went a week and yes, a whole month.
Last year, just over five per cent of the nation’s energy came from coal.
That’s the same amount as solar and there’s only one million solar homes! We’ll be done with coal within the next few years, and with it, those old polluting attitudes to coal will die out as well.
The big announcement this week, was the immediate closure of the Green Grant Scheme that was set up to help householders with insulation, renewable technology and other energy saving measures. Whilst the scheme is no longer available for homeowners, the money that had been allocated has been shifted to the local authorities who will be looking to irradicate their carbon footprint on public buildings and building/housing stock.
This in turn will save local authorities tens of thousands of pounds on energy spend on leisure centres, theatres, housing stock, offices etc.
My own company is half way through a rather large installation on an NHS Trust Hospice in London, so we have seen close up how the public sector is going all out on renewables.
Maybe when our hospital gets a new roof, we will see solar to accompany the wind turbine that powers it at present.
Within a few years, the children that enter this world at the QEH, will be born into a country that doesn’t burn coal any more.
It would be lovely to think that on their first journey home from the hospital, when they looked out of the car window and saw their new home for the first time, it wasn’t strewn with litter along the verges and pavements with piles of household clearance dumped on country lanes.
But I think that’s a subject for another time.