The green revolution is well under way, with more and more consumers increasingly adopting a greener lifestyle – from buying organic and rejecting the use of plastic bags to opting for fair-trade products.
The energy industry has been addressing the issue of environmentalism for some time: in 2001 npower launched Juice – the first green energy product to be offered at no extra cost.
The first people to take Juice were “dark green”, early adopters but, over the past few years, we’ve seen many more families signing up. Now, all the energy companies are busy running campaigns to shout about their own green credentials and encourage consumers to take action – through signing up to green energy, saving energy or even making their own energy, by micro-generation.
But a new trend – one that no one is able to offer consumers yet – is set to be the next big thing in the energy industry.
This is “marine energy” – electricity generated by the movement of waves and tidal flows. And it has the potential to deliver secure and renewable power for the UK.
According to the Government’s Energy White Paper (outlined last week), the UK has some of the richest renewable resources in Europe – particularly in terms of wind and marine resources.
Npower has already raised consumer awareness of this new technology through the “npower Juice fund”, which was launched in 2003 to help encourage the development of marine renewables. For every customer who stays with npower Juice, npower contributes £10 a year towards the fund. Nearly £2m has already been spent supporting a number of projects ranging from a Wave Buoy, measuring the power of waves, to the study of the effect of underwater energy devices on marine mammals.
Npower Renewables, already at the forefront of Britain’s renewable energy sector, is also looking to the future. They’re busy investigating the potential of an innovative new wave power scheme in the Outer Hebrides. Although in its very early stages, this project involves building a breakwater (like those found in harbours around the UK) with a wave energy scheme built into the structure. When fully operational, it would harness power from the Atlantic waves to generate up to three megawatts of electricity. This would be enough to supply the average annual needs of around 1,500 homes.
Once initiatives like this are working, energy companies will, without a doubt, add marine energy as a new weapon to their armoury of green messages. It should appeal to consumers: marine energy will come from a range of innovative technologies such as “sea snake”, “wave dragon” and “stingray”, which will capture the public’s imagination.
When marine energy does hit the streets, blue looks set to be the new green.