Speaking…and gas dependency

On Tuesday I was speaking at the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford. I had a 15 minute slot and my brief was to talk about the exciting possibilities of what could be achieved if we in Herefordshire rise to the energy challenge. I wanted to pack-in many of the ideas and technologies I write about on this blog, and to present them in my usual enthusiastic manner. To do this I always speak without notes and use slide pictures of different technologies and minimal text. I romped through an awful lot of ideas in the allotted 15 minutes. Afterwards I got lots of positive feedback about how people liked my presentation. The downside of such rapid and unscripted speaking is that factual errors are more likely to creep in than when one goes more slowly, and to really be sure never to make silly errors clearly it is best to speak from, and stick closely to, written notes. However this can be very dull for an audience to listen to. It’s a difficult balance to strike.

I did make one error that I’m aware of on Tuesday, and that was to say that UK uses gas to generate about 80% of its electricity. Soon after I said it I realized my error, but too late to correct it. The figures should have been that we use gas for 80% of our domestic space heating and for about 40% of our electricity generation. My basic point was to stress how vulnerable we are, given the growing predominance of imports from Russia and the Persian Gulf. I also wanted to stress the ridiculousness of Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze energy prices, as if he had any control over what price the global market sets for gas. Despite the error I think the message came over loud and clear that I think we need to reduce our dependency on gas imports, as well as rapidly reducing coal and nuclear useage, and the way to go is a major investment in energy efficiency and a whole basket of renewable energy technologies that ideally should be led by local renewable energy coops. Apologies for the error: I hope my message was still clear, and that it was also factually creditable apart from this one error.