Let’s have our day in the sun

25 Mar

I recently had the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Basel, Switzerland. Basel sits on the border with Germany and France and has the luxury of all three countries. You can pop to France to buy your frogs legs in the morning, take a stroll along the Rhine in Switzerland in the afternoon and bask in the last rays of the day in Germany with some German beer and sausage. Parfait! Perfekt!

As we drove into Germany one morning and the road wound through small country villages, there were the typical German houses: painted shutters, a low thatched roof. But as we left the heart of the villages, into new housing areas, there was a marked contrast in the dwellings. New housing estates had a distinctly different look. Gone were the thatched roofs and tudor-esque designs. Instead, solar panels lined the roofs and the designs were simple and modern. Every house in this obviously new neighbourhood had a roof full of solar panels and a few even had smaller wind turbines in their gardens.

Germany initiated incentives for renewable energy back in 1991. The scheme was enhanced and drove a massive increase in the installation of solar PV panels. In 2005, 10% of Germany’s electricity came from renewable sources. In 2009 it was up to 16%. The target in the UK for last year was 10%. We are well behind our energy saving European neighbours.

In the next issue of Safety Management we take a look at renewable energy and some major plans and projects which are happening and have happened both here and around the world. The fact remains: the earth’s natural resources (gas, coal, oil) have an expiration date. They will disappear and our planet is begging us to look for safe and clean alternatives.

The rewards for investing in renewable energy know no bounds: reducing CO2 emissions; technological innovation; creating a variety of green jobs; securing more sustainable domestic power supplies; building a cleaner and safer environment, not just for today, but for many, many tomorrows.

Businesses have a huge part to play, as does the government in supporting them. The policies it is putting in place, and the initiatives through the Carbon Plan, have been welcomed by businesses: funding for apprenticeships in the green industry; investment in new technology; the desire to develop more wind turbines. More can always be done, and we can all play our part.

Henrik Tikkanen wrote that “because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.” We all need and use energy, and we all have to take responsibility today. Striving to create a safe and healthy world for everyone will have little meaning if there will be no energy left to keep us enjoying and living it.  

Check our the next issue of Safety Management for the full article on renewable energy.

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