Assess the level of energy security in the UK
Energy security is defined as the extent to which an affordable, reliable and stable energy supply can be achieved. Over the last few decades, the energy situation in the UK has constantly been changing, from producing enough oil and natural gas to be a net exporter of both fuels to now being on the brink of not importing and producing enough energy to meet the nations’ demands. The past decades of the UK’s energy were probably brighter days than what we can look forward to in the future, with one researcher from Cambridge University, Professor David MacKay, suggesting the UK could face severe blackouts by 2016 (UK ‘could face blackouts by 2016’ – BBC News Sept 2009). Although the general use of energy in the UK has not increased huge amounts, with per capita usage in 1965 at 3.6 tonnes oil equivalent per year and in 2005 at 3.8 tonnes oil equivalent, the energy security of the UK has worsened considerably. As global population increases and more countries are using larger amounts of fossil fuels to meet their energy demands, the UK is limited to the amount it can import and is put under pressure to use more renewable sources of energy. Problems within geopolitics has also caused problems for the UK’s energy security as prices fluctuate, changing the amount of oil we can export and how much we have to pay for our imported energy.
When BP records began, the UK was getting 98% of its primary energy from burning fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal mainly due to the increasing transportation and power generation sectors. Pre-1976, the UK was a large importer of oil due to the fact there were very few known oil sources that could be used domestically. In the following years North Sea oil was discovered and production got underway, meaning the UK could gradually reduce their imports and rely more on domestic oil. Within a few years, in 1981 the UK had become a net exporter of oil showing that at this time there was no major issue with energy security but instead that there was a surplus and a chance to make some money. The use of natural gas in the UK did not get started until 1968 and production was thriving for 30 years until its peak in 2000 and then saw a gradual decline. The UK imported very little gas, and most of the gas produced from the North Sea was consumed in the UK and only for a brief period did the UK actually export natural gas. During the peak times of natural gas production, it was introduced as a replacement for coal for home heating and power generation as it’s a much cleaner source of energy and could help to reduce the air pollution in cities. Up until 1995 the UK imported some natural gas from Holland and Norway which could also be an important connection for the future. In the 60s, coal was the UKs main source of primary energy, accounting for around 60% of the daily consumption, but by 1999 this number had declined to just 16%, showing how the UK had found other sources of energy giving a much larger diversity to their energy consumption. If you were to give the UK a score for the energy security index for this period, it would probably be a similar score to today but for different reasons. The diversity score would be much lower as it is clear that the UK relied on coal, oil and gas and got very little energy from any other sources. However, the availability score would be much higher because we relied much less on imports and the majority of energy consumed was produced domestically.
In 2006, the percentage of primary energy that comes from oil, coal and gas had reduced from 98% to 92%, showing that UK had introduced new renewable schemes and were increasing their diversity. Over the past 4 decades, population has increased from 54,350,000 to 60,245,000 but the per capita consumption has remained fairly constant with a slight increase to 3.8 tonnes oil equivalent. Although the UK was relying less on oil and gas...
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