Tomorrow's World: Is Answer Blowing in Wind? Experts Say Renewable Energy Could Provide a Major Shot in the Arm for the Region's Economy and Manufacturing Sector. but Are We Lagging Behind the Rest of the UK? Joanna Geary, in the the Second Part of Our Tomorrow's World Series of Features, Examines the Issues
Byline: Joanna Geary
By failing to support enough renewable energy projects he West Midlands is not only missing out on sustainble future for its energy supply, but also for its manufacturing, an industry xpert has claimed.
Bob Dorman, project manager for Birmingham-ased WindSupply - a national organisation promoting manufacturing pportunities in renewable energy - said that while business leaders and public odies were predicting the industry's demise, they were issing a big opportunity to boost it.
He said: "Manufacturing in the West Midlands is not dead, but it will be if we don't support it.
"Environmental technologies are all about manufacturing and engineering and we have more of this in the Midlands than anywhere in the UK.
"What we need are renewable energy demonstration projects showing off the skills of our local industry.
"But instead the region lags behind much of the UK for renewable energy projects."
As North Sea gas runs out, the UK has become increasingly dependant on importing fossil fuels from other countries and has started to look at renewables as a way of securing energy security.
A Government Office West Midlands (GOWM) report has estimated that the West Midlands could generate up to 3,000 gigawatt hours of electricity from renewable energy each year - equivalent to ten per cent of what the region uses.
But in the region's energy strategy - launched in 2004-the target for green electricity is just five per cent of consumption by 2010.
Ralph Hepworth, head of environmental technologies at Advantage West Midlands, hit back at Mr Dor-man's criticisms and said the groundwork was in place for more West Midlands renewable projects.
"The problem is that the West Midlands suffers from an excess of honesty. Many regions have chosen to use the government target of ten per cent of energy generated should be renewable. "The West Midlands is a big consumer of energy that has traditionally been imported from elsewhere. So when you look at it like that, five per cent of consumption is an ambitious target."
Mr Hepworth added that there had been efforts made to engage the region's businesses in renewable energy and said that he expected to see a number of new projects launched in the coming months.
Andy Stevenson, director of Energy West Midlands, the region's energy office said there was also a problem that the region was not suited to some of the more obvious forms of renewable energy. …