Wed 20 Jan 2010
This might be overstating things.
LONDON—Installing wind turbines and solar panels in people’s homes is “eco-bling” that will not help meet Britain’s targets on cutting carbon emissions, engineers warned Wednesday.
In a new report by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), Professor Doug King said it was better to adapt buildings to make them more energy efficient than try to offset energy use with “on-site renewable energy generation.”
The leader of Britain’s main opposition Conservative party, David Cameron, is among those who have installed wind turbines, fixing one onto the roof of his home in the plush west London district of Notting Hill.
“Eco-bling is a term I coined to describe unnecessary renewable energy visibly attached to the outside of poorly designed buildings,” King told the Daily Mail newspaper ahead of the report’s publication.
If we want to talk about little or nothing, there are a lot of places to start – and not all of them small bore. Energy efficiency, gas tax hiking, rail infrastructure. But individuals buying the means to capture wind energy for use on inefficient buildings… eh, I have trouble getting worked up about that. And here’s why.
I was working construction a few years ago… okay, up until about ten years ago. But anyway, I worked on an historic renovation project that took years, literally; we learned a lot, used some interesting materials, had a good time and eventually completed the house – all very reminiscent of my writing at the time. Near the end of the project, there were installed some PV-cell solar panels on the roof, three or four massive panels that were enough to power a small freezer in which you could, I think, fit an already-frozen pizza. And maybe some popsicles.
It was silly, in its way, and not unlike some those gigantic satellite dishes scattered and rusting in yards across America. We/they just didn’t have the technology right yet. And now, we/they know much more about satellite TV technology and we have tiny dishes that fit under your cornice and pick up 582 channels. Those albatrosses were the precursors to something better, more effective, cheaper and more useful.
(Unlike the highly pretentious display windmills at issue, the big PV panels I mentioned were on the back of the house. No one could have seen them from the street; they were an honest attempt at renewable energy.) There will always be a penalty for ostentatious displays of hipness, youth, technical prowess and especially green-ness. Let that penalty be money and let it flow downhill to fund research for the Direct TVs of wind power. Then we can laugh about those rusting windmills in the backyards of houses and how those hippies yuppies protested too much anyway.