Ok, so it’s been nearly 2 years since my last blog. Life has got in the way for a while, but it’s time to get things going again. I never meant Reduce Your CO2 to be a militant, ‘you must do absolutely everything green’ blog, but rather one that looks at the different things people are doing to reduce their emissions and / or save money - a particularly important challenge during these hard economic times. Typically however I’m getting back on track with less of a money-saver and more of a ‘good thing’.

Windsor Castle - soon to be powered by hydroelectricity

I’ve just read in the papers that the Queen is in the process of installing 2 Archimedes screws at Romney weir near Windsor castle. The aim is that they will power some, or even all of the electricity needed by the castle (allegedly her favourite residence), and this by November of this year. Estimates quoted suggested that this solution will reduce her carbon emissions by 790,000 kilos per year (not sure why kilos are quoted instead of tonnes - bit odd really, but it makes the figures look bigger!). So that’s pretty impressive, eh?

Admittedly she is spending something like £2 million to get this up and running so it’s not like she’s ever going to make the money back, and this has already got some people ranting about how pointless a gesture it is. The usual noises about people with money, about the inefficiency of these solutions, and about not helping anyone else out.

But this got me thinking. Surely this is a good example of a form of redistribution of wealth? If everyone who could afford to install green energy solutions, efficient or not, did so, then this to my mind would achieve several things:

  • It would relieve power stations of a large weight, especially as it goes to reason that wealthier people use more electricity
  • It would channel badly needed funds into the green energy industry, facilitating ongoing development
  • It would create a large splash in the news - something needed in an area that is crucial to our future whether or not you believe that the world is going to end. We need new energy solutions as our current ones will not last for ever
  • It would contribute to bringing the cost of installing green energy down, making it more efficient, and opening solutions up to the next financial tranche. For instance, if solar panels cost half of what they did today it would make financial sense for far more people to install them

If you think of many technologies, they start by only being affordable for the ultra rich, and it is the interest and investment of those very people that helps bring costs down and makes them accessible to the masses. By setting up her own hydroelectric powerplant even if it costs far more than she will save, HMQ is setting an excellent example to others ’sheltered from need’. Let’s hope they take note and follow.