UK energy in numbers

by Tim Deakin Domestic Energy News

UK energy in numbers

In June, the government made a commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. This makes the UK the first major economy and G7 member to make such a promise.

And this commitment couldn’t come soon enough, as the toll that fossil fuels have taken on our environment become increasingly clear.

But what does this new government promise mean? And how do we plan to reach this goal? We’re taking a closer look at UK energy as it stands, to really put things in perspective.

There’s a rise in renewables

Bioenergy such as ethanol was responsible for half of all renewable energy consumed in 2018 and is set to make up 30% of the growth in renewables between 2018 and 2023 due to its use in heat and transport.

By 2023, renewable energy is predicted to make up 30% of global electricity generation.

The grid is gigantic

The network of cables and transformers within the National Grid, owned by Electricity Transmission, transmits electricity from power stations to homes, schools, hospitals, factories and everything in between. It consists of a whopping 4,474 miles of overhead line and 969 miles of underground cable.

We’re using less and less coal

We’re less reliant than ever on coal, which is good news for the environment. Coal consumption fell from 157m tonnes in 1970 to 11.8m tonnes in 2018, and the country’s seven remaining coal power stations are set to close by 2025.

Offshore wind is more accessible than ever

Offshore wind farms have been on the rise in recent years and according to government targets it is predicted that this form of renewable energy will provide a third of the UK’s electricity by 2030.

Appliances are getting more efficient

The rise of energy efficient appliances helped households save an average of £290 a year between 2008 and 2017, minimising a home’s carbon footprint in the process. For example, eco kettles use about 20% less energy than a standard model – a considerable financial and environmental saving when we consider that the average household boils the kettle 1,500 times a year.

Homes are becoming more efficient, too

And it’s not just our appliances that are getting greener; we’re conserving more energy in our homes as a nation, too. Homes make up about 18% of UK emissions, but since the introduction of the Clean Growth Strategy in 2015, around 852,000 homes have received at least one improvement measure, be it loft insulation or a better cavity wall.

We’re using less energy

In 2018 the amount of power sent out by British power stations fell to its lowest level since 1994, at 335 terawatt-hours (down 1% on 2017). Since 2005, this number has dropped by 16%. It’s thought that this is largely due to energy-efficient appliances and lighting, as well as people in general being more conscious of their energy output.

People want to do better

We’re all willing to do our bit for the planet, providing help is at hand to make it possible. YouGov reports that more than 60% of us would install solar panels to tackle climate change if there was greater assistance from the government. What’s more, 60% would also buy an energy storage device and 71% would join a local energy scheme.

There is still a long way to go

Big steps and small steps alike are being taken to tackle climate change, but it isn’t going to go away overnight. The Committee on Climate Change reports that meeting the 2050 deadline will require an annual investment cost of 1-2% of the UK’s GDP, as well as a collective effort from all consumers.

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