UK Energy Still Needs High Carbon Imports
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
In 2012 coal accounted for 39% of the generation of electricity in the UK, showing that the UK still relies heavily on high carbon emissive fuel, even topping gas. Imports of coal were substantial and still there is a lack of low carbon energy available in the UK. Gas prices were higher than coal, and with the USA shale gas industry taking off, more coal was available for export purposes. Gas is still the second largest fuel used to generate energy in the UK, responsible for 28% of the electricity.
Not only does the UK import coal and gas, it also imports electricity via connectors with the European continent and other sources. Since as far back as the early 80ís imports of energy have become more prevalent. UKís gas is piped from Norway and Holland, and 98% of the liquefied gas imported last year was sourced from Qatar.
The domestic shale gas industry has recently been given an incentive in the form of tax breaks according to Chancellor George Osborne, but unfortunately it would appear that the domestic gas production is not sufficient to reverse the UKís decision to import gas to meet ever increasing demands.
Because of the continued fall back on fossil fuel reliance, low carbon sources including both nuclear and bioenergy remained steady at a rather low 12% of the energy generation for 2012. A good sign was that renewable energy generation rose by an impressive 27%. It would appear that renewables are increasing their share of energy production. Wind generated offshore energy also saw an increase from 2011 of 46%.
Although these figures are promising, the UKís low carbon energy supply still falls short, at about half of the European average. UK continues to rely on fuel imports, although coal-fired electricity generation may not be allowed to survive in the long run. Change is imperative and the EUís Large Combustion Plant Directive has called for many of these plants to be closed down, as well as the House of Lords looking into closing a loophole in the draft energy bill in the near future.
The Uk falls far behind itís targets for low carbon fuel electricity generation. In spite of the advances in renewable energy making an impact on electricity supply in terms of quantity, statistically the UK is a very long way away from a sustainable low carbon economy.
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