Despite the Conservative government repeatedly slashing support for renewable energies, the UK’s annual carbon dioxide emissions fell by 4% in 2015. The main reason for this is a huge decrease in coal power generation.
What was the biggest reason for the fall in emissions?
Mine closures meant coal production fell by 27%, a record low. The government has pledged to close all coal plants by 2025. This is good news for the environment, as coal power production has significant repercussions. Coal power plants use vast amounts of water and release pollution, radiation, and chemicals hazardous to human health.
What will coal plants be replaced with?
This is a big worry. The creation of Hinkley Point C power plant is stalling, and there is no apparent back-up plan if it fails to fill the hole in energy generation once old coal and nuclear power plants have closed. Renewable energy could well be the best option. Solar electricity generation rose by 50% in the past year. This massive rise in solar power also contributed to the drop in carbon emissions. There was also a 30% rise in generation from offshore wind, and 21% from onshore wind.
What is next for UK energy production?
Despite the advances mentioned above, it seems the government are not committed to a green future. The current government has made it clear that gas and nuclear energy will be their focus. The UK is the only G7 country which has increased fossil fuel subsidies. George Osbourne’s March budget gave a further £1billion of tax breaks to the North Sea oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, incentives for generating solar power have been dramatically reduced. It is hard to see how all this fits with the commitment the government made to a low carbon future, at the UN climate change conference in Paris in late 2015. It will be interesting to see where energy generation goes next in the UK.