Energy sources come in many forms and the way we use them has changed over time. From wood to coal, nuclear to gas, fossil fuel to renewables, where we get our energy from has diversified as society has harnessed and adopted the latest innovations and technologies. In the renewables sector, this diversification is even more apparent – your renewable electricity could be generated from domestic solar panels, tidal or wave technology, biomass combustion, wind farms or hydroelectric schemes.
Low carbon future
New and more efficient versions of existing renewable technologies are being researched and developed all the time. Here at Good Energy, we’ve long championed the benefits of renewable generation and launched the UK’s first schemes to support households to install low carbon heating systems and solar panels.
In less than a decade, clean power has grown from providing just four per cent of our electricity to a staggering 25 percent in 2015. In the past 10 years alone, wind generation has gone from supplying 1 percent of the UK’s electricity to 12 percent in 2015. And with the amazing news that, for the first time, the UK went coal free for 24 hours in April, society is unequivocally heading towards a zero carbon future.
At least it should be.
UK fossil fuels
The Government has a long history of subsidising the UK fossil fuel industry: Government policies have supported UK offshore oil and gas extraction since reserves were discovered on the UK’s continental shelf in the North Sea back in the 60’s. And recent research by the Overseas Development Institute shows alarmingly that the UK still spends over £350m a year supporting the failing coal industry. But UK fossil fuel production is becoming increasingly challenging and costly, and there is an urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. With the right government measures in place, it will be possible to transform our economy to create and sustain the low carbon future we need.
What opportunities are on the cards?
Taking UK offshore oil and gas as an example, the industry and supply chain should change its ways and diversify. There is huge value in the 50 years of skills and experience the sector has gathered in offshore engineering and technological. Focusing these skills on a low carbon world would open up billions of pounds of commercial opportunities. Areas like energy storage, low carbon heating, hydrogen gas, and offshore wind all need engineering experience to boost development. Equally, decommissioning of oil, gas, and nuclear infrastructure is expected to be a multi-billion industry over the next few decades and will require many of the same capabilities.
One of the UK Government’s aims in the recent Industrial Strategy Green Paper was to deliver affordable energy and clean growth – both are aspirations that can be achieved by investing knowledge and experience in the renewables sector. Maximising the benefits of the ongoing transition to a low carbon economy should be at the top of the new Government’s list of priorities.