Imagine this: a world in which we could all use renewably-generated electricity with some fraction of the gay abandon with which we currently use electricity. Wow! The technology exists to make this possible, so this vision is not an unachievable dream such as a world without, say, unhappiness. The big question concerns how we can ever beat a path from our current situation to the new one? A news story on the BBC involving the installation of a giant-tidal flow turbine near Orkney brought this to mind, and the thought occurred to me: if the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, then perhaps I am witnessing here one of those single steps.
If we are ever to reach the promised land of affordable renewable electricity, then several factors must be in place – factors involving consumers and providers acknowledging that electricity derived from fossil fuels is really a very dirty way to make electricity. And thus being prepared to pay some premium for renewably-generated electricity. I think we are on the cusp of that change. But in addition to this willingness to change, there must exist the technical and economic capability to make the change happen. In short, there must be companies to build the turbines and transmission systems, and the companies will need to be large and profitable – possibly as large and profitable as Oil Companies are today. Seeing the colossal scale of this turbine, and imagining the presumably colossal investment required to build it, and the scale of vision for how it will be used, I was moved to think that maybe we are collectively beginning to move towards this promised land. And fleetingly, I felt a small glow of optimism.