The Digest of UK Energy Statistics was today released by DECC and in the following blog I am just going to briefly detail the three take home messages and my personal take on them.
Energy production is down, but demand is increasing
Firstly energy production fell by 10.7% on the previous year as a result of declining oil and gas production. Final energy consumption however rose by 1.7%, further denting our energy ‘headroom’. This has been the 14th consecutive year of falling energy production – scary stuff indeed!
Just to put this in perspective, if peak energy demand is higher than peak supply then people have to go without electricity. The way to counter this by the energy firms is to charge more for electricity to force people to use less, therefore those who can afford it get it, and those who can’t go without.
This production drop is already happening, so if you factor in the closure of the coal power plants in 2015 and the nuclear plants at the end of the decade we could be in serious serious trouble.
Electricity Generated from Renewables is up 19% on the previous year
This is great as a standout headline, so I shan’t expand on this further!
In addition, renewables accounted for over 11.3% of our total electricity generation during the year (up from 9.4% a year earlier) – also great to hear!
The issue is capacity is not being installed fast enough, so the Government need to act now, pushing forward with a mixture of new nuclear plants, CCS coupled gas plants and renewables. The issue is that nuclear will take 10-15 years to come online and gas 3-4 years so are only viable option is really to push renewables that can be rolled out in a matter of months.
I personally think that a Severn tidal barrage is a cracking solution but I have been attacked for suggesting that previously, although it would deliver 5% of our energy needs and is so predictable it could be used to support our base load.
High Gas Prices pushing the UK back onto Coal
No shit Sherlock! I pay my gas bills and can see they are skyrocketing! But the reason for the move back to coal is mainly because the US now has so much shale gas it has a surplus of coal (which makes it cheap for us to buy). In addition we don’t have North sea gas anymore so any gas we use tends to be imported. The main issue with moving back to coal is that burning it is as dirty as hell.
What makes the issue worse for you and me is that we used to have vast North Sea gas reserves, so everyone was encouraged to install gas central heating systems. Now we don’t have any left (and don’t get too excited shale is going to solve all the problems – it worked in America, but it is unlikely to work so well here due to the size of the country and how we as a population are spread out).
Unfortunately trying to put a block of cheap coal in your boiler is going to do nothing, so we are going to have to suck up the extra costs of gas through our gas bills!
So there you have it! Let me know if you agree with anything I have written in the comments below!