UK Coal Usage Spirals as Gas Tumbles
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
It would appear that the UK’s usage of coal for electricity generation is climbing higher by the year. According to statistics released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) coal is said to account for 39% of the electricity generated in 2012, and last month alone saw an increase of 10% according to figures available from last year. The use of coal as a source of fuel has risen by 24.5% whilst major power producers consumption increased by 31.3%.
There has been a decided push by utilities to use the remaining hours allotted to the old coal-fired plants before the introduction of the UK’s carbon tax increases the cost of carbon emissions, and forces the closing of such old plants. The closing of these old coal burning energy generators is due to the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive which aims to enforce increased costs for the emission of carbon into the atmosphere. Gas generation of energy has slumped from 40% in 2011 to 28% of total energy generated in 2012.
The demand for coal has been steadily rising, but the amount of coal produced by the UK has dropped by 8.5% in 2012. This means that the deficit has to be made up in the form of imports and the resultant cost increases. Imports of coal have risen by 37.8% from 2011 statistics. The UK’s overall usage of fuel seems to be largely reliant on imports. Coal, crude oil, gas and electricity requirements have gone up as has the price of manufactured fuel imports leading to 43% of the UK’s energy needs being met by imports.
Due to the UK not benefiting from low natural gas prices, this means that coal is ever increasingly being used as a source of electricity generation. With gas prices increasing and also the breakdown of the gas supply from Belgium to the UK recently, coal has been increasingly used for electricity generation, moving even further away from gas with the majority of energy requirements for 2012 being met through coal generated energy sources.
RenewableUK has said that the country would appear to be ever increasingly reliant on fossil-fuel generated energy and that the continuity of building renewable energy sources needs to be boosted to maintain governments targets for sustainable renewable energy resources, such as wind farms and solar energy initiatives going into the future of low carbon energy technology.
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