The UK faces a series
of choices about energy. We all require energy to live and our dependence on it
cannot be understated. But how we supply energy and how we use it in the future
needs to change – we need power that is secure, affordable and more than ever
we need it to be sustainable.

At the moment, most of the UK’s
electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, which have been recently criticised
for being polluting and having limited quantities.  In the UK, we currently utilise mainly
natural gas (42% in 2016) and coal (9% in 2016). A very small amount is
produced from other fuels (3.1% in 2016), principally through Oil – which,
whilst in high demand in certain countries is not utilised to a particularly
great extent in the United Kingdom, due to fluctuating import costs and usage
availability.   However, the volume of electricity generated
by coal and gas-fired power stations alters each year, with some switching
between the two depending on fuel prices. 

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Also, it is worth mentioning that coal
production and energy generation has severely reduced in the UK within the last
few years, with currently only eight power stations open – and of those two are
expected to close in 2018, one to reduce, two to convert to biomass (where
organic material is used as a fuel for the generation of electricity), whilst only
the other 4 will remain open for the foreseeable future.   In
addition to this, 21% of our electricity comes from nuclear reactors (usually in
which uranium atoms are split up to produce heat using a process known as
fission.) The UK’s nuclear power stations will close gradually over the next
decade or so, with all but one expected to stop running by 2025. Several
companies have plans to build a new generation of reactors, the first of which
could be running by 2018.  EDF energy is
pioneering this trend and has committed to opening three new nuclear power
stations in the next few years, including the highly debated Hinkley Point C
power station. 

However, in the last few years, renewable technologies that use natural energy to
make electricity have been used to a greater extent in the UK, up from under 5%
in 1990.   Fuel sources include wind,
wave, marine, hydro, biomass and solar. It made up 24.5% of electricity
generated in 2016 – which will rise as the UK aims to meet its EU target of
generating 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.   Of this figure, 45% is generated through wind
energy, both offshore and inland, 36% through bioenergy, 18% through Hydroelectric
energy (a large of this from Wales) and 1.5% through solar (photovoltaic) / wave
or tidal energy. 

As previously
mentioned, non-renewable energy sources, whilst their share is decreasing,
still provide a majority of energy to the UK. 
Non-renewables are not viewed positively as they will eventually run out
(the world’s supplies are being depleted as we are using them faster than they
are restored), that they are often polluting (be it through the complicated
extraction process or direct pollution as a result of their burning to produce
energy) and that the cost, ability and availability to use them fluctuates to a
great extent.  However, they are cheap,
easy to set up and generate a consistent supply of energy.  Renewables, however, do not generate a
consistent supply and are very dependent on environmental conditions and some methods
are difficult to set up – although they are not directly polluting


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