As the world enters a period of severe climate change and the crude oil reserves being consumed at an accelerated pace, the UK has seen it imperative to drastically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and save carbon in every sector of the economy. This in had means the need of a swift transition into the use of renewable energy as well as the financing of emerging technologies and the pursuit of new sources of supply. Overall the UK has a profusion of renewable energy resources at hand, but there usage is still quite insignificant. To date the energy delivered from renewables is merely a 4 to 5% (DECC, 2009) as figure 1 indicates. However, according to the DECC renewables could provide more than 30% of our energy. Therefore after careful evaluation the UK has committed to sourcing more than 30% of its energy to renewables by 2038 across the three energy sections of heat, electricity and transport. In order to achieve such ambitions an energy strategy plan has been implemented for the next 25 years. It will consist of:
1) The use of renewables from wind power (offshore) to generate more than 90% of the electricity. 2) The use of renewables from biomass, biogas and solar heat pump sources to generate more 15% of the heat. 3) The use of renewables to generate 15% of the transport energy.
Figure 1: UK primary and delivered energy use 2009. Note that the second bar "electricity" refers to renewable electricity and "renewables and heat" include biofuels for transport and heat from CHP plants.
Following through the implemented strategy plan the UK will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of millions of tons as well as reduce the overall demand of fossil fuels and gas imports between now and 2038. This will create a substantial support to the security of fuel supplies. However, such implementations of the strategy will need the efforts of the central, regional and local Governments as well as the public and private sector that are willing and able to help as financial supporters. Realizing the above ambitions will be challenging and extremely costly. However, if no action is taken, the costs will be even greater. The following paragraphs will demonstrate how to achieve the target proposed, which use of renewables will most be appropriate and benefit the UK the best. This in hand will allow the analyzing of the impacts, costs and benefits associated with the use of renewables.
Tackling the first section of the strategy plan, it is known that wind power is currently one of the most developed and cost-effective renewable electricity technologies available ( (Nicola Armaroli, 2011). Furthermore according to the Sustainable Development Commission (2005) the UK has one of the largest prospective offshore wind energy resources in Europe. The total potential of onshore and offshore wind energy is about 10’600 TWh ( (Nicola Armaroli, 2011). Exploiting not even a third of such a potential would cover the total electricity needs of the UK, which amounted to 44.2 GW in 2008-2009. This figure however is expected to rise to about (Appendix 1) 45.7 GW in 2038, a 5.4% increase (OECD, 2008) (in forth with my own projections). However, to date the exploited renewables only contribute to about 5.5% of total electricity generation which is equivalent to 3GW, enough to supply around 1.5 millions homes ( (DECC, 2009). Relating back to the offshore wind energy production, this is where the UK will focus the most as it yields higher potential energy generation due to a durable and reliable wind resource, thus higher power outputs per turbine and more hours spent generating each year (Appendix 2). To date the UK has around 13 operational offshore wind sites providing an energy capacity of about 2.29 GW ( (DECC, 2009)There are several more sites in construction yielding another 5.67 GW. Further studies have...