Tuesday 6 December 2016

A lot of energy wasted to produce so little

Green & Gold (Collins Press €14.99)

Published 07/10/2010 | 05:00

THIS book begins with an interesting premise: that Ireland could become a world leader in clean energy, but offers scant evidence to support that theory and no practical advice on what business people or policy makers need to do if Ireland is to switch from industry laggard to best in class.

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Written by former Shell employee John Travers, 'Green & Gold' is disappointing on several levels.

The biggest problem is that the book offers very little information specific to Ireland, but contains a lot of padding about alternative energy which can easily be found elsewhere.

While some readers will undoubtedly be interested in Travers' arguments about the benefits of alternative energy, it is probably true that many more will be interested in the "gold" promised in the title rather than the "green", and it is here that the book lets readers down.

There is no chapter which examines the impediments and enticements for entrepreneurs here, and no examination of why this country has such a lamentable record when it comes to green energy.

Nor is there a chapter which explores the best mechanisms for encouraging investment in green technology, or which technologies would deliver the best returns for Irish investors.

Instead, we are treated to a treatise on the Gaelic Revival and the Irish spirit, which is meant to encourage us all to believe that we can overcome any obstacle.

This is a shame, because there is a dearth of information about the financial opportunities offered by the Green revolution here in Ireland and we still need a book or, better still, a pamphlet on this topic.

There is no denying the book does have interesting nuggets of information.

This reviewer was surprised to read that at some periods during the day, up to 2pc of electricity used in the Republic and imported from the UK will have been generated by nuclear reactors.

The problem is the 20-page preamble explains everything from radioactivity and the physical structure of an atom to a potted history of Windscale, before one learns this little (and let's face it, useless) nugget.

This unnecessarily long book is unlikely to be of much interest to anybody who already accepts that alternative energy will form an important part of government policy in the future and now wants to exploit that opportunity for gain, or even out of idealism.

It may just be of interest to those who have never given the matter any thought and who want to read the one book on the topic written by an Irish author to gain some passing knowledge about the energy situation here in Ireland.

On the whole though, this is a missed opportunity.

Irish Independent

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