Energy is money. Money is energy. For example, the price of a £1.20 bag of chips can be broken down into kilowatts of energy required to cultivate, harvest and transport the potatoes on each stage of their journey from field to fryer.

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Energy is money. Money is energy. For example, the price of a £1.20 bag of chips can be broken down into kilowatts of energy required to cultivate, harvest and transport the potatoes on each stage of their journey from field to fryer.

Just as food gives you the fuel to work for money to buy food, the energy required to power a modern society could be part of a cyclic, or ‘renewable’ process. Although we cannot turn the clocks back to the water and wind-powered age, faced with fuel poverty, oil-conflicts and climate change, we have suddenly rediscovered these endless sources of natural power as though they are a new phenomenon.

In Norfolk, developments such as Sheringham Shoal wind-farm are making a significant contribution to the national grid supply. Through this, as a region, we are rising to the challenge, but despite the many obvious benefits including jobs and inward investment, we have seen aggressive local protest campaigns, particularly recently aimed against solar farm projects.

All energy generating technologies, conventional, nuclear or renewable have advantages and disadvantages. Electricity from wind-power is now cheaper than electricity generated by gas-fired power stations but the supply is not constant. The extraction of shale gas may be good news in the short term, but as a finite resource this is only a temporary fix. Eventually, with a long-term strategy in place, revenue could be channelled into the refinement of technology capable of harnessing the infinite resource of tidal energy. Clean. Safe. Dependable. Free.

Recent anti-renewable protests have been motivated mainly by aesthetic concerns, sometimes with reason, but often hostility is based on irrational fears. For instance, anti-wind activists would have us believe that at the foot of every wind turbine lies a small mountain of feathery little corpses. However, on average a pampered household moggie kills six times more birds per year than a 120-metre tall 4MW wind turbine. That translates into six turbines per cat per year in bird-murdering terms.

A balanced debate is urgently needed otherwise we risk strangling this vital fledgling industry in its infancy through ignorance and misinformation. Bridges must be built between science, government, industry and communities towards a coherent strategy. The gap between public sector administrations and a profit-driven private sector running essential public services must be closed.

Get it right and we can look forward to our grand-children driving around in clean, quiet electric cars breathing fresh air in a relatively safe, stable world with cheap power bills. Get it wrong and that portion of chips will never arrive.

It might sound like an absurdly romanticised vision of the future, but if the human race fails to embrace advances in energy production we are an endangered species.

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