Letters - Britain's energy options

Your Leader on UK energy policy (5 December) rightly emphasises that the debate ought to be about how we manage demand for energy, rather than how we increase its supply. Interestingly, the new German government has held a similar exercise, focusing in particular upon existing homes, where some 28 per cent of total energy is used.

Like the UK, Germany didn't bring in energy conservation standards for new homes until after the big oil-price hikes of the mid-1970s; most of its older homes waste fuel. The new government has pledged to bring 5 per cent of all dwellings built before 1978 up to "contemporary standards" every year, so that after 20 years the entire housing stock will be energy-efficient. In the UK, by contrast, the only conservation subsidy comes

from gas and electricity companies, under the Energy Efficiency Commitment. Even this modest programme, in its first three years, has delivered 40 per cent more energy saving than predicted.

This demonstrates how substantial the savings from better energy conservation can be - and delivered far more cheaply than any of the Prime Minister's beloved nuclear stations. Incidentally, the German government also assessed whether it wanted to build any nuclear stations: it has concluded that it makes far more sense to continue closing them down, and concentrate on saving energy instead.

Andrew Warren
Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy
London N1

Your Leader suggests that the review of UK energy policy should not just look at energy generation, whether from nuclear or renewables, but should also seek to reduce demand at source from us all as consumers. This is a laudable aim, one that the British Wind Energy Association endorses. With a free and abundant fuel source on our doorsteps - which is quite simply the best wind resource in Europe, as noted in a recent report from Oxford University - it seems logical and, indeed, necessary to realise the contribution that wind power can make. Securing some 7 per cent of supply in 2010, rising to the high teens by 2020, would allow wind power, along with the other renewable technologies, to meet 20 per cent of electricity need in 2020, a high proportion of the predicted energy gap.

Marcus Rand
BWEA, London N1

This article first appeared in the 12 December 2005 issue of the New Statesman, We achieved next to nothing