UK Struggling to Shift from Conventional to Green Electricity

Credit: Creative Commons/Barry Hurst

Credit: Creative Commons/Barry Hurst

The UK is struggling to shift its electricity generation dependency from fossil fuels to renewable / carbon free power generation sources. Most of the UK’s electricity comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil which is a major contributor to climate change. The proportion of renewable electricity being used in the main grid is growing steadily. In 2014, carbon-free sources of electricity, which included nuclear and renewable, accounted for nearly 40% of total electricity production in the UK. A recent report published about the top 40 countries for renewable in terms of the rapidly advancing prospect towards total green electricity, the US, China, and India lead whereas the UK ranks 13th.

The UK Government wants at least 30% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. But according to research published last week by the UK government’s National Grid – There’s no scenario where Great Britain could get 15% of its electricity from clean energy by the year 2020, even if the UK had voted to remain in the European Union. The research concludes, that with the usage of nuclear, green energy and a technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from present conventional energy sources it would take 2 more years (ie. by 2022) to meet the prescribed goal by the UK government.

Britain so far is the world’s biggest offshore wind market; the government wants to double the capacity to 10GW by 2020 so as to meet the climate change targets of lowering carbon emissions. After Brexit, the British offshore wind energy industry which is already facing problems due subsidiary cuts is further facing funding problems. Mainly due to the volatility in the financial situation and the unclear outlook for Britain’s access to European trading partners.

Britain’s solar and wind energy industries which are dependent on the subsidies are facing financing risk. This, in turn, will increase the project cost affecting the tariff. And even the continuation of these projects wouldn’t meet Britain’s green energy target. With this entire scenario on the front of renewable energy, the UK’s reliance on imported Natural Gas increases to curb the carbon emissions also the imported electricity dependence.

The gas imports are expected to rise approximately 40% by 2030, the bulk of it coming from LNG and pipeline supplies from Russia, will also import electricity from its neighbours amid a fivefold increase in the capacity of power cables linked to them. Even the country’s electricity demand is set to shrink, according to the country’s network operator.

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