The UK government announced plans to push hard for a cleaner energy future in a virtual party conference held at the beginning of October 2020. The UK is currently the largest user in the world of offshore wind power and is recognised as a global leader in the sector.
Between 2010 and 2019, the UK managed to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions coming from the country by more than any other single leading economy. Some statistics for clean energy in the UK are outlined in the embedded infographic.
The ambitious new plans call for a heavier reliance on wind, solar and other clean energies, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Duncan Clark, US Cleantech‘s Head of European Business Operations, is highly engaged with numerous companies and strategies working towards sustainable solutions for the green energy transition.
The solution is not simple and will take time but plans in the UK are being watched closely by other nations for the viability of relying more heavily on renewables.
Intensity and Intermittency
At present, the two primary challenges facing the UK and other areas of the world in terms of reducing fossil fuel use in exchange for renewables are intensity and intermittency.
First, many heavy industries rely on fuels that have the capacity to generate huge levels of heat, which at present electricity cannot. As the main source of power generated by renewables is electricity, heavy industry would struggle to progress without oil, coal, and gas.
Second, many renewables are weather-dependent and therefore unreliable. Still, cloudy days do not generate mush solar power or wind power, so back-up resources are required.
Battery storage does solve some of the issues of intermittency with renewables, but the current capacity is nowhere near high enough to be relied on as a permanent solution. As an example, it would every single battery produced in the entre world over two years to store enough energy to power London for one week.
The embedded short video looks at how individual households can introduce battery storage to make the most of the energy generated by solar panels.
Increasing Offshore Wind Capacity
Increasing the capacity of renewable energy generation paves the way for a future where renewables make up most or all of the energy requirements of the UK. Plans are underway to increase the offshore wind capacity of the UK, already at world-leading levels, by a significant amount by 2030.
The government has promised £160 million in investment for upgrading coastal infrastructure and ports over the coming years, with a view to increasing offshore wind capacity. This investment will create an estimated 2,000 construction jobs and support as many as 60,000 further jobs both directly and indirectly.
The investment could see smaller energy suppliers in the UK in a position to be able to compete for tenders with larger suppliers from overseas.
Green Energy Tariffs
For the consumer, the transition towards more renewables has the potential to decrease home and commercial energy bills. There are already multiple green tariffs available across the UK that allow domestic and commercial customers to save money on their utility bills as well as contributing to less fossil fuel use.
As more of our energy mix comes from wind and other renewables, tariffs could become cheaper still. Consumers can use online energy comparison websites to discover the cheapest options for their energy use – many find that greener energy companies are already offering the lowest tariffs.