As a developed nation with a maturing economy, UK’s power consumption is high. In fact, in a mere 25 years between 2005 and 2030, our power consumption will increase by 50%. Though plenty of factors are responsible for this enormous growth in energy consumption, two are the most important- growing population and increased demand per capita for energy.
Do you want to know how the UK uses its energy? It is important because unless we understand our energy demand and supply properly, it will be difficult to provide for the energy needs of the people by 2030. We talked to Flogas, suppliers of commercial gas, to understand our energy use.
UK’s energy demands are majorly fulfilled by fossil fuels, natural gas and coal. We still do not have too many electric cars on the road, which means the increasing number of vehicles in the UK still run on diesel and petrol. Along with coal, these have supplied reliable and quickly available energy to the residents.
However, coal’s usage is now coming to a low. Producing its lowest output in 80 years, coal is now generating only 9.2% of the power, as compared to 22.6% in the previous years. Last year, three major coal powered stations were shut down, suggesting a shift from traditional sources of energy. Citizens and businesses now understand that while it is quickly and cheaply available, coal is not the answer to our sustainable energy needs of the future.
Another reliable energy source that is gaining prominence in the United Kingdom is natural gas. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of natural gas-powered stations rose by 45%. This is also a major reason why coal powered stations shut down recently. Natural gas is widely available and produces less emission too.
Harmful emissions like carbon dioxide, is produced in smaller numbers- 30% less than oil and 45% less than coal. This makes it a more sustainable and reliable method of providing energy. Moreover, gas can be used for powering homes, vehicles and even in industrial purposes, which makes it a better energy solution than coal, which was mainly used for domestic electricity generation.
UK’s renewable energy sector
Renewable energy is quickly gaining ground in UK. In fact, wind energy is the most popular form of renewable energy here. In 2016 alone, wind farms produced more energy than coal power plants and could harness more power than the solar panels. However, a wind farm’s energy generation depends on the strength of the wind. Thus, wind power is a great, no-pollution energy source but cannot be used for 100% power generation in the region.
Solar energy use is increasing in the UK. In fact, we are the leaders of solar energy production in Europe. However, the entire European region lags in solar power generation as only 4% of our demand is fulfilled by solar energy. The government has de-incentivized the use of domestic solar panels because of which our total installation fell by 50% in 2016.
However, nuclear energy is becoming popular because of its reliability and sustainability. In June 2017, we used 23.2% nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is free of carbon dioxide emissions so it does not cause a greenhouse effect. However, handling nuclear energy and nuclear waste is difficult and costly.
By far, natural gas seems the most obvious answer for reliable energy supply. It is available in plenty, produces lesser emissions, causes lesser pollution and can successfully handle most of our energy needs till 2030.