Finding A Long Term Solutiont The UK’s Energy Needs

Due to declining levels of output of North Sea oil and gas, combined with the closure of coal-fired power generation facilities in accordance with LCPD emissions standards (circa 2015) and the gradual decommissioning of many of the United Kingdom’s nuclear facilities in line with their safe productivity lifespans, a dramatic reduction in generating capacity is expected.

This reduction in generating capacity, when set alongside various political issues affecting incoming supply (access to power supplies often being used as a particularly ‘powerful’ bargaining tool) and the move to a low carbon economy is expected to result in a short to medium term shortfall in energy supply capacity taking into account the continually increasing level of consumer and industrial demand.

Various strategies, incorporating both renewable energy provision (so called ‘Green Power’) and increased dependence on nuclear fission generation have been considered by both the UK government and other concerned bodies, including external consultancies and ‘Think Tanks’.

As things stand currently, renewable energy sources account for a significant minority of UK energy generation- the most recent verifiable figures dating from 2008 indicating that renewable energy accounts for approximately 2.25% of supply, some considerable way short of the EU target of 20% of output, and seemingly negligible when compared to the UK’s own Renewable Strategy target of 30% by 2020. Studies linked with the UK Renewable Strategy indicate that maximum energy output potential would be required in order to achieve these targets, and even in the event of such unlikely efficiency, this is no guarantee that the UKRS target figures would come close to meeting the required increase in output in order to ‘plug the gap’ and meet the expected shortfall.

The continuing development of nuclear fission generation infrastructure within the United Kingdom has been somewhat marred by dubious government policies introduced during the early part of the 21st century, which were instigated to ensure that decommissioned nuclear facilities were superseded by ‘Green Energy’ renewable alternatives. These ill-conceived policies were always destined to failure, given the relative infancy of renewable technologies at that stage (and, for that matter, the comparative infancy which continues to be evident over decade later).

By the latter part of the decade, the New Labour government had revised its policies and instigated the ‘new nuclear: indicative timeline’ paper, which finally opened up the possibility for further nuclear development. 10 potential sites were identified at this point, however due to long lead-times and inefficiency it appears that new facilities cannot be anticipated much before the end of the second decade of the century – providing much long term benefit to the United Kingdom’s energy strategy, but inevitably resulting in failure to achieve the required increase in generated output before the ‘shortfall deadlines’ identified.

To summarise, it would appear that neither renewable energy sources, nor continued planned expansion of the UK’s nuclear fission infrastructure can be expected to adequately provide a solution to the projected energy generation shortfall, although a combination of these measures when combined with other strategies such as international import of fossil fuel resources and the implementation of technological advancements to existing generation technologies such as carbon capture and storage facilities could provide a unified resolution.

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Written for Haven Power business electricity supplier

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