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Green energy sector should stop squabbling -banker

03 Mar 2005 15:45:46 GMT

Source: Reuters

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - The green electricity sector must stop squabbling or risk being picked off piecemeal by the entrenched nuclear and fossil fuel industry, a leading investment banker said on Thursday.

Tom Murley, director of HgCapital, told the second annual Wave and Tidal Energy Conference it was not so much about saving the planet from global warming as about market share.

"The renewable industry needs to stand together or fall individually," he said. Instead of arguing which method of green power generation was the best, they should support each other.

Murley said every watt of power sold to the electricity networks by the renewable sector was one that the established nuclear and fossil fuel powered generators could not sell.

They were in it for the money, so should the green electricity industry be, he said. It was a straightforward commercial fight.

HgCapital, which has 1.3 billion euros under management, includes a windfarm in its private equity portfolio.

The wind energy sector is by far the most developed of the renewables but is coming under attack from fossil fuel energy generators, sceptics, tourism organisations, the military and even in some cases environmentalists.

Yet attitudes towards wind varied widely from country to country.

In Britain there was widespread public antipathy to giant turbines in the countryside and sea, while in Germany and Denmark attitudes were more accepting and in Spain they were positively lapping it up.

Lagging a long way behind wind come renewables like biomass, solar power, hydroelectric and marine -- all of which are at varying stages of maturity but with tide and wave the infant of the bunch.

"Wind is in the vanguard of renewables. If it falls, then everything behind it languishes," Murley told Reuters on the margins of the one-day conference in central London.

He said the suggestion in some quarters that renewable energy held the answer to all the world's global warming problems was as misguided as the claims from the nuclear lobby that they held the answer.

"It is a package," he said. "And you also need to have more energy efficiency and better building insulation. But for starters nuclear power should be properly costed."

Environmentalists and energy specialists argue that while nuclear energy does not produce the main global warming culprit carbon dioxide, its true costs including clean-up and waste storage have been hidden by governments.