The UK grid’s energy mix is currently:
Giving off a whopping 544g of carbon dioxide equivalent units per kWh. Could we do better? Clearly, changing the mix to more renewables/nuclear and less fossil fuel consumption will decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s say we put the emissions to one side - just for a moment - have we got enough fossil fuels to keep going as we are?
Crude oil reserves are vanishing at the rate of 4 billion tonnes a year – if we carry on at this rate our known oil deposits will be gone by 2052, with current predictions. If we increase gas production to fill the energy gap left by oil, the reserves will give us another eight years, getting us to 2060. The coal deposits we know about will only give us enough energy to take us as far as 2088. And all that is assuming static world population and living standards - clearly that’s not going to be the case.
All of this scarcity, as any amateur economist will know, is going to keep on pushing up fossil fuel prices as countries around the world fight for energy. Each year we import 39 million tonnes of gas, 38 million tonnes of coal and 54 million tonnes of oil. Countries supplying our fossil fuels, like Russia and South Africa, can hike up prices as the reserves run low and we’re more and more dependent on them.
Now let’s bring emissions back into the mix:
Using less energy saves money and emissions. Producing energy from renewables or nuclear power costs more in the short term - but will quite quickly prove to be a stitch in time. There are problems associated with nuclear - mainly to do with how to safely dispose of the waste. Some people prefer to look to the renewables sector for answers:
What would be your dream mix….?
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