Along with carbon capture and storage technologies, carbon emissions trading, new nuclear capabilities, and energy saving and efficiency measures, renewable energy is part of the government’s plan to shift the UK to a low-carbon, more self-sufficient energy economy that addresses both climate change and security of supply issues.
Against a global backdrop of rocketing oil prices and concerns about climate change and security of energy supply, interest in renewables has never been more intense. Renewable energy is energy from natural sources – the wind, sun, geothermal, waves and tides,gucci horsebit, and water – which, unlike fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, will never run out. Furthermore, most renewable energy technologies produce little or no greenhouse gases – the main cause of climate change.
The UK’s Renewable Energy Strategy 2009, published in July 2009, sets out how the government plans to achieve its ambitious renewable energy target. Specific objectives include generating more than 30% of electricity from renewable sources (compared to around 5.5% today), mostly on- and off-shore wind, but also hydro, biomass and marine power technologies. Transport energy from renewables will need to increase from the current 2.6% to 10%, and 12% of heat energy is projected to come from sources such as biomass, solar and biogas.
The key challenges with renewable energy are how to extract it, turn it into usable energy and deliver it to where it is needed. Not renowned for being the sunniest of places, the UK has some of Europe’s best wind power resources and is a world leader in marine power technology. Although wave and tidal power technologies are still in their infancy, the Carbon Trust estimates that marine power sources could provide up to 15% of the UK’s electricity. In May 2008, the world’s first commercial tidal turbine was installed in Strangford Narrows, Northern Ireland providing power to 1,gucci bullet bag,000 homes.
Growing at a global rate of 30%, wind power is the most mature and cost-effective renewable energy technology: worldwide in 2008 there was 121 GW of installed wind capacity, with the UK accounting for some 4 GW of installed capacity by the end of 2009. Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, the UK government has signed up to a legally binding target of generating 15% of UK energy from renewables by 2020. This is a seven-fold increase from the 2008 level of just over 2%. Renewable power production in the UK is at a very low level compared to other countries such as Denmark, Spain, Germany and the US. There is a mountain to climb if the 15% target is to be met.
If the strategy achieves its goals, the UK will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 750 million tonnes between now and 2030. Fossil fuel consumption will decrease by around 10% and gas imports by 20-30% by 2020. The strategy predicts that achieving the targets could create half a million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020,spring summer 2010, and leverage £100 billion worth of investment opportunities.