All in all, a massive PR opportunity for the firms involved (SSE, Drax, Spirit and EDF) which naturally they've seized with both hands and immense gratitude. Can't have done the whole industry any harm, either - give folks an idea of the scale of what it all means; romance of engineering & commerce, etc. Indeed, if a similar series had been run on commercial TV or a newspaper, you'd assume it was paid-for advertorial stuff.
And not a Green in sight! Dear me no - we're all quite green enough without letting Swampy or Greta come on with their whingeing and wimpering.
Controversy has barely been acknowledged: just the once, really, over Drax. The SSE episode was about the world's biggest offshore windfarm and its onshore receiving station - including the merest hint (which probably passed unnoticed to most) about what's fast becoming a cause célèbre, the culpably chaotic business of digging big cable corridors, generally through highly sensitive coastal geography & habitats etc, with no obvious sign of planning / coordination on the part of National Grid. Otherwise, it was just 100% jaw-dropping Big Kit on display in breathtaking marine vistas. And no mention of what happens when there's no wind? ...
The Spirit episode featured their huge Morecambe Bay gasfield and its onshore gas processing plant. (If you haven't heard of Spirit, it is a Centrica spin-off, one of the many new 'end-of-field-life' specialist O&G producers who manage upstream assets when development risk is long since past and the original developers - in this case British Gas - have better uses for their capital.) Big offshore installations are pretty mind-blowing, so no shortage of gawping to be done here. What controversy might have been expected? Well, there are some people for whom even mention of fossil fuels in any other sentence than "we are closing this thing down as fast as humanly possible, ideally tomorrow morning". But the Spirit PR team had put clever words into the mouth of the plant manager, who simply said that we'll need gas for a few more years on the path to Net Zero Carbon (tacitly answering part of the question left by the SSE programme), and that they were there to do their bit. The Beeb felt no need to qualify that with any sort of counterpoint voice-over.
The last episode was on EDF's nukes at Heysham, and the nuclear fuel plant at Springfields down the road. They didn't explicitly use it to answer another part of the unasked SSE / wind question. Obviously, they could have filled the entire slot with nothing but controversy (see, for example, the Public Accounts Committee report published today); so they ran with more-or-less none whatsoever. Fair play, it had to be that way, really: though arguably they might have mentioned the cracks in one of the boilers and some of the fuel bricks ... So it ended up quite pedestrian to my view. I was, however, entranced to hear engineers talking in "thousandths of an inch" (it was the same in the Drax episode) which jars a little. Then again, I imagine they run the plant on Windows 98 or some such.
So what about Drax, then? Yet again, they didn't use it to answer the SSE / wind question (- it actually contributes to both parts, in fact); but, yes, they really couldn't - and they didn't - fail to mention that burning trees to generate electricity is controversial. Which it bloody is - an outright scandal, in fact, compounded by the risible official "green" carbon-accounting convention which allows Drax to ignore CO2 emitted at the point of combustion, and hence to qualify for 9-figure sums in annual "renewables" subsidies despite emitting more CO2 than in the days when it was burning coal (and vastly more than if the same electricity was generated instead by gas) with the distant prospect of maybe that CO2 being maybe absorbed by replacement trees (maybe) 50-100 years hence (maybe).
They've got me started now.
Anyhow, all four episodes are labelled "Series 1" so perhaps they'll follow up with more later. There's no shortage of energy companies with big PR budgets, interesting stories to tell, and photogenic kit to display. One thing we may predict: there will be a lot of Greens who are furious at the easy, glossy ride the Beeb has given the industry in these programmes, and will be pressing to get more *balance* into any subsequent series.