James Meek, 15 July 2021
The equivalent of almost all Scotland’s electricity is now supplied by renewables, and when demand is low and the weather blustery, wind turbines generate two-thirds of the wattage Britain needs. You might accept that Britain has ceded tech sovereignty to overseas multinationals, and say, well, let them at least be competent and effective ones, like Siemens and Vestas. But even as I write this, it has a hollow ring. Suppose I make the distinction between a false populist portrayal of the wind energy revolution as a triumph of national ingenuity and my own understanding of it as a vital endeavour engaging the whole species – one in which the greater ingenuity, foresight and can-do spirit has, this time, been shown by the Danes. The trouble is that these narratives aren’t very far apart. If the Boris Johnson version is neo-aristocratic, boasting of improvements to the landed estate that is Britain, mine is neo-romantic: humanity, and the version of nature we know, may yet be saved! The trouble is that the aristocrat and the romantic have much in common. Each tends to overlook those who do the spade-work, those whose hand holds the welding rod.