It never ceases to amaze - Sustainability April 2022

Sustainability – April 2022

It never ceases to amaze me how few renewable energy installations there are in the quarrying sector. Lots of land, sizable energy consumption, long periods of tenure – these are golden conditions for such generators. I am of course aware of the difficulties – well, at least the excuses. People don’t like wind turbines, acres of solar look ugly, I might need that land for something else, I don’t want to be strapped into a contract for 25 years… We should not be fazed by these challenges. Indeed, I argue that we should be redoubling our efforts.

We face the perfect storm of steep inflation, an on-going, uncertain geopolitical nightmare and a drive to Net Zero carbon. How many more reasons do we need to chase renewable energy opportunities with urgent enthusiasm? In the past few months, I have seen several organisations ending their fixed price contracts for electricity who are now grappling with the pain of moving from 13p to 30p per kWh. If you are already paying £50k a month for power, that is a serious point of pain. Adding this to the red diesel story and direct gas price increases, it’s a proper horror story.

The industry often speaks of its long running success story with nature conservation. Why are we not adding non-fossil energy generation to this narrative? Collectively, as one the largest land-owners in the country, do we not have a moral obligation to show some leadership in this space? Even if we cannot directly consume all the power generated, we will be adding to the greening of the grid. That sounds like another pretty reasonable contribution to society.

Even better is the fact that renewable energy is very well understood by the banking community and is relatively simple to finance. As well, there are several existing funds being deployed by specialist developers who can take all the pain away and provide cheaper power by means of a supply agreement. Even if the power costs the same as the grid per kWh, your bill will be at least 30% better owing to the avoidance of grid charges if you wire behind the meter.

The time has come to get off the fence and start planning to make another substantial positive contribution to our planet.