Overview of strategies to increase energy supply:
The goal of countries around the world is to achieve energy security for their industries and people. To do so often requires having an adequate energy mix – using a range of different energy sources to make sure that there is energy all year around. In addition, many countries are looking to greener, renewable energies as they cut pollution (so have health gains for populations) and help to tackle environmental issues such as Global Warming and acid rain. Fossil fuels will remain an important part of the mix but there are other options.
Nuclear Power - Radioactive minerals such as uranium are obtained by mining. Electricity is then generated from the energy that is released when the atoms of these minerals are split (fission) or joined together (fusion) in nuclear reactors. This type of energy has many positives. For example, once built, the power stations produce only a small amount of the gas Carbon dioxide. That's important as the UK Government wants to reduce this gas as part of a plan to slow down global warming. Nuclear power stations also produce a reliable, steady stream of electricity. However, nuclear power stations are very expensive to build & to shut down. The radioactive nuclear waste must be dealt with very carefully. It's harmful to people so it must be treated and then kept in special stores to keep it safe. Many of the UK’s nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their lifespans. There are big plans for huge plants at Hinkley Point and also in Cumbria.
These are power stations that are still powered by fossil fuels but that reuse heat that would otherwise be wasted. These stations can be 50% more efficient at producing energy that in a conventional power station.
By Denis Egan [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Above is the Dinorwig Power Station in north Wales, and is the largest hydroelectric power station in the UK. Llyn Paris is used as the lower reservoir for the Hydro-electric power station built into the mountainside. Water from an upper reservoir (Marchyn Mawr) generates electricity during daytime peaks but at night when the demand lessens the same turbines pump the water up to upper reservoir for use the next day.
Solar panels on the BedZed development in London
By Tom Chance from Peckham - flickr: BedZED, CC BY 2.0,
A summary of the strategies to increase energy supply in a renewable, sustainable way can be seen in the table below;
|Energy Source||Facts and description||UK facts and examples||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Wind||Modern windmills, called wind turbines, turn wind energy into electricity. If the turbines are in a group it's called a wind farm.||Wind power contributed 11% of UK electricity generation in 2015, via onshore and offshore wind farms||
This is a renewable energy source, that's because we will never run out of wind.
The price of wind energy is stable; it doesn't go up and down like the price of coal or oil.
The UK gets lots of wind annually
There is some local opposition and concern about noise and impact on landscape.
Wind is more expensive than fossil fuels to set up and wind levels fluctuate over time.
|Solar Power||Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly with concentrated solar power (CSP), which normally focuses the sun's energy to boil water which is then used to provide power||In 2016 the UK generated 3.4% of its total electricity using solar power. Solar panels can be added to roofs of houses or in big farms.||
Solar panels give off no pollution; the only pollution produced as a result of solar panels is the manufacturing, transportation and installation.
Solar energy produces electricity very quietly & can be used globally.
We can harness electricity in remote locations that are not linked to a national grid.
New technologies like batteries allow capture of energy during the day for use at night.
Solar panels cost a lot. Currently, prices of highly efficient solar cells can be above £1000, and most households may need more than one.
Solar energy is only able to generate electricity during daylight hours.
The weather can affect the efficiency of solar cells.
|Hydroelectric Power (HEP)||Hydropower is energy generated from the movement of water through rivers, lakes and dams, moving turbines.||HEP makes up 1.8% of the UK's total generating capacity and 18% of UK's renewable energy generating capacity. There are hydroelectric plants and pumped hydroelectric plants such as at The Dinorwig Power Station.||
Once built, the power stations do not release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
Hydropower is not vulnerable to changes in price like oil or gas.
Power stations which rely on rainfall can be vulnerable to drought.
Large dams and reservoirs have a big impact on the environment and the people who live near them.
|Biomass||Renewable organic materials, such as wood, agricultural crops or wastes, especially when used as a source of fuel or energy. Biomass can be burned directly or processed into biofuels such as ethanol and methane.||Biomass and biofuels remain a small fuel source in the UK||
Biofuels are cleaner fuels, which means they produce fewer emissions on burning.
Biofuels are easy to source
They are Renewable: Most of the sources like manure, corn, soya beans, waste from crops and plants are renewable . These crops can be replanted again and again.
They can offer energy security to countries without fossil fuels.
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