It’s a mad idea. Totally bonkers. But for my new year’s resolution, I’m going to visit every single power station in Britain.
Just like many people over Christmas, you may well be asking: why?
When I spend all week writing about energy, why the hell would I want to devote the weekend to traipsing around the country staring at breeze block buildings and steel towers?
It’s a very good question, one which almost doesn’t have an answer.
Perhaps for the adventure: hitting the high road and the railway with a sense of purpose, rather than aimlessly getting sloshed in a foreign country. You might call it doing a Michael Palin.
Maybe I’m tired of writing about places without knowing what they look like: how nuclear Sizewell sits on the beach, or coal-fired Drax looms over Sheffield’s plains.
How about the fact that some of them are impressive feats of engineering with striking architecture and being honest that could even mean strikingly ugly. You could quite easily predict that one day, when the world is powered by solar and nuclear fusion, instead of touring the Lake District, tourists will visit our power plants. I’m just going to be ahead of the game.
Perhaps it’s genetics. In the distant past, eons ago, my dad was a trainspotter. As a teen he travelled to such exotic climes as Crewe and Glasgow with his mates, in search of a new number to tick off on his notebook. Gone are those days for him, but for me… Well.
But hang on a second, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Visit every single power station in Britain? On top of a full-time job, on a budget? Even with a head start (and working in energy, I have already been to one or two), isn’t that a bit, um, impossible?
I would laugh in the face of scepticism, except… you would be right.
There are almost 100 large power plants operating in England alone. That doesn’t include the closed plants which still exist, like Bankside (aka Tate Modern art gallery) or Battersea Power Station (about to be converted into trendy flats.) Let alone power plants on sites like hospitals and industrial sites.
Take into consideration Wales (i.e. Wyfla and Pembroke), Scotland (hello wind, wave and tidal farms) and the sightseeing list gets longer and longer.
Given all this, a touch of rational-thinking is called for. So in fact, my new year’s resolution is to visit as many as I possibly can. If I can make it to at least 50 by the year’s end, I’ll be extremely chuffed. Wish me luck! Here’s to an incredible 2013.