Unless greenhouse gases are controlled, Britain faces an Arctic climate this century due to the loss of warm waters from the Gulf Stream.(see link at bottom of page). Early October 2008, a new “Energy & Climate” cabinet position was created to focus on climate change.  In 2000, the proportion of the UK’s electricity supplied from renewable sources stood at 2.7%. By 2009 it was just 6.7%, well short of the department’s target to generate 10% by the end of 2010. 
The Guardian newspaper has an excellent, exhaustive web site devoted to the issues – links at bottom

July 2012 - analysis -  power crisis likely to occur by 2018. As old nuclear and coal power stations are likely to be turned off after 2017, sometime in 2018 or shortly thereafter, the UK will experience a crisis. Electricity supply will not be enough to meet demand. The government wants to build new low-carbon generating capacity. This means nuclear or renewables such as wind, marine or solar. Marine is not yet sufficiently developed at commercial scale and solar is not yet either cheap enough or advanced enough to operate on a commercial scale given the UK weather. So we must look at wind: both on and off shore and at nuclear. Each of these three shares a similar investment profile: They are expensive to build but (relatively) cheap to run. Of the three low-carbon options, onshore wind is far and away the cheapest to build. So a government that simply wanted to produce a lot more electricity without producing a lot more greenhouse gas would likely favour onshore wind technology. In fact, onshore wind is the government's least favoured option. link

Experts assess the pros and cons of fracking in the UK. See below (in Fracking section) new item with experts offering differing opinions as issue on development of shale gas splits opinion in Britain

November 2012: Energy efficiency measures could replace 22 power stations. link 
May 2011: Britain's Green Investment Bank. link  (The Green Investment Bank may allocate all of the 3 billion by as early as 2015, prioritizing offshore wind, waste treatment. - link
May 2011: Government confirms drastic cuts in emissions to proceed.  link
March 2011: Climate change 'will wreak havoc on Britain's coastline by 2050’.   link
January 2011: Britain unveils plans to ready for future climate changes. link  
March  2013: UK businesses urged to prepare for more extreme weather.  link  
Jan. 5 2014: Flood-hit UK must prepare for more extreme weatherlink

Latest news:

July 22 2014: UK retains target of 50% emission cuts by 2025. The U.K. will keep a target to cut greenhouse gases by half through 2025, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said, foiling the Treasury’s effort to weaken the target. Britain charts its emissions cuts in five-year carbon budgets. The fourth carbon budget would allow U.K. emissions to total 1,950 million tons of CO2 from 2023 through 2027. That’s 390 million tons a year, half the 780 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution the U.K. emitted in 1990, the base year for the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol treaty. link



  • Britain's greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Wind Power
  • Solar Power
  • Renewables
  • Tidal / Wave Power
  • Britain's nuclear industry
  • Coal / Carbon Capture
  • Fracking and other energy news
  • Miscellaneous
Britain's greenhouse gas emissions 

Imports mask emissions totals. While statistics show that Britain’s emissions are declining, down anywhere from 15% to 21% between 1990 and 2009, if imports of manufactured goods for the British market are included, there has been an actual increase of about 12% according to Professor Robert Watson, the UK government’s chief environmental scientist. link  

In December 2010, the Committee on Climate Change called  for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030. If passed into law as previous CCC targets have been, they would be the first legally binding 2030 target in the world. link

March 2013: Greenhouse gas emissions rise in UK: Scotland’s renewables soar. 
In 2012, renewables accounted for a record 11.3% share of UK electricity generation, up from 9.4% in 2011. But a huge rise in coal use has pushed up the country's greenhouse emissions by 3.5% on 2011. This growth during 2012 was primarily driven by a 45% rise in offshore wind power. Total electricity production in Scotland from renewables increased 7% which is enough to power the equivalent of all the homes in Scotland. Across the UK, nuclear's total generation increased by just over 2% while gas plummeted almost a third and coal rose by a similar amount. link

December 2012: Imports drive up UK emissions. The UK's carbon emissions rose 10% from 2009 to 2010 as CO2 arising from imported goods and services soared. The increase more than reverses a 19% decline recorded in 2009 as a result of the global downturn and leaves the country's carbon dioxide footprint 9% higher than it was in 1993. However, at 722 million tonnes of CO2 it is 15% lower than 2004 when emissions peaked at 852mt CO2.  The UK's total carbon footprint, including other greenhouse gases, also rose by 5% between 1993 and 2010. The figures show carbon emissions associated with imported goods and services consumed in the UK have risen by 59% since 1993, as the UK economy has continued to move from a manufacturing base towards the services sector. Imports now account for almost 45%of all consumption emissions, compared to around 30% of the CO2 footprint in 1993. Meanwhile, emissions from UK-produced goods and services decreased by around 12% between 1993 and 2010 and now account for 35% of the total CO2 footprint in 2010.The average Briton contributed around 11.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2010, which marks some progress from 2004 when per capita emissions peaked at 14.2 tonnes per personlink

February 2010: Britain's emissions total.  According to Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, the country’s basket of six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol was estimated to be at 628.3 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). The figure is 1.9% lower than 640.5 million metric tons registered in 2007. The overall decrease was largely attributed to the country’s continued switch from coal to natural gas. Britain’s industries slashed the largest amount of emissions at 7.3%. This was followed by transportation (3%), energy supply (2.9%) and businesses (2.6%). But residential sector emission rose 3.1%. Of all the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide accounted for 85% of  Britain’s total emissions. Net emission of the gas was estimated at 532.8 million metric tons in 2008 -  2% lower than 543.6 million metric tons in 2007. 

Britain's carbon footprint:
March 2010: A new report shows that 253m tonnes of CO2 are released overseas each year in the manufacture of products bound for the UK, the equivalent of 4.3 tonnes per person. The average per capita carbon footprint for Britain is 9.7 tonnes excluding emissions from imported goods. link.

February 2012: Emissions rise in 2010. Despite greenhouse gas emissions rising 3.1% in 2010, the UK is still on track to meet its climate commitments under the Kyoto protocol. Emissions in 2010 were 590.4m tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), compared to 766.4MtCO2e in 1990. The dramatic fall in greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 caused by the recession has proved to be a blip. The upward trajectory in 2010 follows a steep fall of 8.7% in 2009 on 2008 levels, as industrial activity slumped. link

Britain's Committee on Climate Change  In its new progress report, the Committee on Climate Change shows that carbon emissions in the UK fell between 2003-2007 by only 0.6% a year. They should soon be falling, the committee says, by 2.6%. Even this annual target, which would require a very sharp shift in government policy, bears no relation to the ultimate aim: preventing more than 2C of warming. But as David MacKay, chief scientist at the Department of Energy and Climate Change has pointed out; even the cuts the UK has made so far are illusory. link  

July 2010: Government cuts emissions 13.8% in first year. Whitehall has hailed its employees as champion energy savers, revealing that central government departments have slashed carbon emissions by 13.8% in a year, far exceeding the coalition's promise to cut emissions 10% during its first 12 months in office. Prime Minister David Cameron set a new target to cut emissions by 25% by 2015. link  

September 2011: Scotland leads race to cut UK emissions. Scotland has surpassed England, Wales and Northern Ireland at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to new statistics that show the country has slashed emissions by almost a third since 1990. Figures just published show that in 2009 Scotland had cut emissions by 30.5% against 1990 levels, narrowly beating England, which delivered a 29.5% cut in emissions, and also leading Wales and Northern Ireland, which cut emissions 23.3%and 20.3%, respectively.  link

Wind Power

December 2013: Wind power in UK reaches 14%. Wind output rose to as much as 6,053 megawatts December 2, beating a previous record on Sept. 15 and accounting for 14% of total supply. The UK. plans to almost triple the amount of wind capacity by 2020 as it seeks to meet a target to get 15% of power demand from renewable energy. The U.K. seeks to install a total of 18 gigawatts of offshore wind farms and 13 gigawatts of onshore turbines by 2020. Current combined capacity is about 10.4 gigawatts, according to RenewableUK, a lobby group. link

November 2013: Huge increase in UK wind installation. The installed capacity of the UK’s offshore wind sector has risen by 79% in a year. In the period from July 2012 to June 2013, capacity increased from 1,858MW to 3,321MW. Onshore and offshore, a total of 2,721 MW were installed between July 2012 and June 2013, taking the UK’s total wind capacity up from 6,856 to 9,710 MW, a 40% increase. link

October 2012: Onshore wind farms. By the end of June 2012, there was 6.9GW of total operational wind farm capacity in Britain with a further 4.2GW in construction and 5GW with planning consent. If current levels of growth continue, wind energy capacity will reach 13.5GW by the end of 2013, delivering 10% of the UK's electricity needs. The wind energy industry now employs 12,200 people in full-time jobs, compared to 9,756 in 2010. The offshore wind industry alone now employs 45% more people directly than two years ago. link
[April 2012:, 66% of Britons were in favour and just 8% against when asked: "to what extent are you in favour of or opposed to the use of wind power in the UK". link

UK plans for world's largest off-shore wind farms 

April 2014: Britain to double off-shore wind energy. Five offshore wind projects have been approved in the UK, adding 3.2GW to supply which will produce 4% of the country's electricity - powering 3 million homes - while creating 8500 jobs. The UK already leads the world in offshore wind with nearly 3 GW  as of 2012 - more than the rest of the world put together.  link

June  2014: Green light for massive off-shore wind farm in East Anglia. An offshore windfarm which could become one of the largest in the world has been given the green light by the UK government. Development of the East Anglia One windfarm, off the coast of Suffolk, will involve the installation of up to 240 turbines and, once built, will generate enough electricity to power around 820,000 homes. link

July 2013: UK greenlights world's biggest off-shore wind farm. New UK wind farm, twice the size of the London Array, approved. The UK government has approved plans for the world’s largest offshore wind farm, a 1200MWproject. With 288 turbines to supply electricity to 820,000 homes. The UK ranks first in the world for offshore wind - with 3.3 GW of installations, it has double the rest of the world combined. link

March  2013: Plans for world's biggest off-shore wind farm. The Walney wind farm, off Barrow, already has 102 turbines and generates enough power for about 320,000 homes. Danish-based developer Dong Energy wants to add up to 120 additional turbines and provide power for about 500,000 more homes. If approved, the project could be completed by 2017. When it was officially opened in February 2012, Walney was the largest offshore wind farm in the world. It was built in two phases with the second set of 51 turbines completed in six months - a record for the wind farm sector. link

May 2012: Largest UK wind farm outside Scotland approved. Consisting of 76 turbines, Vattenfall's planned 299MW facility in South Wales  will be located between Neath and Aberdare, and is expected to generate enough power for up to 206,000 homes a year. . link

March 2012: Hundreds of turbines planned for Highlands.The windswept mountains and glens in Scotland are some of the best places in Europe to build wind turbines, despite also being highly sensitive areas for wildlife like golden eagles, red deer and pine martens. The Scottish Government said 2,800MW of wind capacity is installed across Scotland, with a further 3,400MW in planning. Scotland is already ahead of England, which has just 950MW of operational wind, Northern Ireland that has 387MW and Wales that has 413MW.  At the moment there are just over 250 turbines in the Highlands and Islands but there are 1,398 in the planning process and even more developers are expected to come forward in the rush to meet Government targets and take advantage of subsidies over the next ten years. link

Small scale wind turbines – Britain taking lead.

Small domestic wind turbines could provide enough clean electricity to power more than 800,000 UK homes, according to the Energy Saving Trust. In the first study of its kind, the EST spent a year monitoring small wind turbines from 500W to 6kW in size, in 57 different urban and rural locations around the UK. Previous studies have suggested that small turbines in residential areas fail to generate enough power to justify their installation. In total, small-scale wind in domestic properties could supply around 3.1% of the UK's energy demand from homes.  

In May 2009, Europe's largest onshore wind farm began operation. The 322MW farm, which is already powerful enough to meet Glasgow's electricity needs, is to expand by more than a third as part of a major green energy initiative by Scottish ministers. The announcement came as plans for an even larger scheme, to build a vast community-owned 150 turbine, 540MW scheme on Shetland, were lodged with the Scottish government. Scotland has the theoretical potential to generate 60 gigawatts of green energy, ten times the country's peak demand, because of its geographical position. link     
[More on the Shetlands wind project: link]  


Off-shore wind energy.

May 2013: Britain's off-shore wind energy surges. Britain has 3,300 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, or about 970 turbines, more than the rest of the world combined, producing enough electricity to power 2 million homes. The government is targeting 18,000 megawatts by 2020, adding a projected 60 billion pounds ($93 billion) to the U.K. economy. link

London Array - world's laregest off-shore wind farm:

April  2013: Final turbine comes on line making the London Array the world’s largest wind farm at 630MW. Britain has 3,300 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, more than the rest of the world combined. It plans to reach 18,000 megawatts by the end of the decade. link      

October 2012: The first power has been generated from the London Array project, around 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex in the Thames Estuary. Eventually 175 turbines will generate enough power to supply more than 470,000 homes. Already 151 turbines have been installed since construction began in March 2011, and when the first phase is completed by the end of 2012, the 630-megawatt scheme will be the largest offshore windfarm in the world. If approved, the second phase will add enough turbines to bring the total capacity of the windfarm to 870MW. link

Solar Power

February 2012: Solar growth achieves 1,000MW in less than 2 years. Explosive growth in solar panel installations on homes, schools and fields in the UK over the past 22 months saw the green energy source pass through the symbolic milestone of 1,000MW on Wednesday. Since the feed-in tariff scheme was launched in April 2010  to pay homeowners and businesses for generating their own green energy, the amount of solar has grown by more than 41 times; it was just 26MW of solar before the scheme. link

April 2011: Solar energy in Britain surges, but still minor source. The total amount of installed solar power in the UK jumped from 26MW from April 2010, to 77.8MW at the end of March 2011. But despite the rise in demand, solar power still contributes only a tiny amount of the UK's total electricity generation. At 77.8MW, it accounts for just 0.104% of the 75GW provided by fossil fuel, nuclear and large scale renewable power plants. The UK's largest coal fired power station, Drax in Yorkshire, generates approximately 4,000MW. link


April 2014: UK solar commitment. The Department of Energy and Climate Change published a Solar Strategy that prioritizes rooftop solar with a short term target of penetrating the commercial sector and getting solar on a million homes by 2015, double what exists today.   "We have managed to put ourselves among the world leaders on solar and this strategy will help us stay there. There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy," says Greg Barker, Minister for Energy & Climate Change. link

December 2013: Scotland’s remarkable renewable numbers. In 2012, Scotland got 40.3% of its electricity from renewable sources, up from just 24.1% in 2010. The Scottish government plans to get half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2015,  a target it said it was on track to meet, and 100% of its electricity by 2020. Scotland’s renewable energy numbers are much higher than other U.K. countries. (Renewables produced only 8.2% of England’s electricity in 2012, and in Wales, 8.7% of electricity comes from renewable sources.) link

November 2012: Britain on the 'cusp of an energy renaissance'. link   
Update - Dec. 6 2012 – more renewables, less nuclear. The latest government figures now show only 3.3 gigawatts of new nuclear plant to be built by 2025 and 9.9GW by 2030. This compares with 4.8GW by 2025 and 12GW by 2030 as recorded in its 2011 energy and emissions projections. The department is more optimistic about wind and solar, however, expecting 42GW of renewable power to be in place by 2030 compared with the 33GW projected in the 2011 statistical survey. link

July 2012. Britain’s supply of green energy soars. Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy, after a surprise increase in electricity generated from wind, sun and waves. Renewables accounted for 11% of the UK's electricity in the first three months of 2012, compared with 7.7% from January to March 2011. link
October 2012: Renewable energy capacity will overtake nuclear power in the UK by 2018, if current rates of growth continue, and will provide enough power for one in 10 British homes by 2015, according to new research. link

May 2013: Low carbon best bet long-term for Britain. A parliamentary advisory committee has estimated that British households will save 45 billion if the government hitches its electricity supply to low-carbon sources such as wind and nuclear rather than gas. Overturning the general consensus that green electricity is more expensive than gas-generated power, the committee finds that while “decarbonising” the energy supply will cost more in the next few years, the expense will quickly become negligible and will start paying handsome dividends after 2030. Even if hopes that Britain is sitting on vast amounts of accessible shale gas prove correct, which won’t be clear for at least a few years, the case for a low-carbon energy revolution in the UK is still “robust”, adds the independent body set up to advise the government on climate change. link

May 2009: Wales plans for energy self-sufficiency with renewables in 20 years. The government development plans, which are legally binding, are far in advance of anything planned for England or Scotland. The proposals would make Wales one of only three countries in the world legally bound to develop "sustainability".  link     

September 2010: Scotland should produce enough renewable electricity to meet all its power demand by 2025. The new national target is to generate 80% of electricity from renewables by 2020, and First Minister, Alex Salmond said, "I'm confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100% of our electricity from renewables alone." link   Update - June 2013Scotland misses annual carbon target for second year. Ministers insisted that Scotland's overall figures were still the best in Europe, with a near 30% cut in emissions against 1990 levels, but then admitted they had fresh doubts about hitting its tough goal of cutting carbon by 42% by 2020. link  

Tidal - Wave Power

January 2013: An analysis suggests that estuary barrages and tidal streams could provide more than 20% of demand for electricity in the U.K. Despite high costs, experts say tidal power is more reliable than wind. link

November 2012: 14GW energy envisaged from Bristol Channel. The Bristol Channel could provide as much as 14GW of low carbon energy capacity without resorting to a large scale tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary, a report will claim today. A series of lower impact tidal fences and turbines deployed in conjunction with wave and wind power systems would generate more electricity than the controversial barrage scheme, according to not-for-profit Regen SW and consultancy Marine Energy Matters. link    (more on this project on Wave Power page.)

March 2011: Scotland’s government gives green light to world’s largest tidal stream energy array. The development to be built in the Sound of Islay is estimated to have a generating capacity of 10MW and will generate enough green energy to power double the number of homes on Islay. link

September 2012: Scottish islanders' wave power hopes sunk by 'massive costs' - 107m bill in 2020 to hook into national grid. Speaking as the Marine Energy Conference begins in Inverness, Niall Stuart of Scottish Renewables said that despite an independent review by energy regulator Ofgem charges affecting island-based projects, such as those in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, were adding significant costs to and threatening the economic viability of wave and tidal projects. link

Britain's nuclear industry

Begun in 1956, nuclear energy reached its peak of 26% of the nation's electricity in 1997, and by 2023 only one of the current fleet of reactors will remain open. Nuclear currently generates 19% of Britain’s electricity at 16 reactors in 9 sites around the country. (sites map on this page 
March 2013: The first of a planned new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK has been given approval. link

Problems facing nuclear industry

March 2012: Flood risks at nuclear sites. As many as 12 of Britain's 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change. (Pictured at left - Sizewell nuclear power plant in  Suffolk..)  Nine of the sites have been assessed by the  Environment Department as being vulnerable now, with others in danger from rising sea levels and storms in future decades. Two of the sites for new nuclear stations are said to have a "high risk" of flooding now. Shutdown and running reactors at Dungeness in Kent are also classed as currently at high risk. link

February 2013: Britain’s nuclear power dilemma. Having failed to realize support for new nuclear reactors over recent years, and despite promises that no subsidies would be given, the government is now hedging to backtrack on pledges to guarantee whatever it take to develop increasing nuclear capacity. The government is launching a last-ditch attempt to sign up energy companies to build new nuclear power stations by proposing to sign contracts guaranteeing subsidies for up to 40 years. link 

February 2013: The chances of building any new reactors in the UK are fading fast. The UK government's plan to build a new generation of 10 nuclear power stations suffered another severe blow when the British utility Centrica pulled out of the program, writing off a 200 million investment in the process. To prop up the industry the government is faced with breaking two important electoral pledges and may face legal challenges that it intends to breach European Union subsidy rules in guaranteeing a minimum price for nuclear power. With the French nuclear industry already in deep trouble over construction delays and cost overruns, the chances of building any new reactors in the UK are fading fast. link

September 2011: Nuclear clean-up will never be completed. Portions of the coast in northern Scotland will remain radioactive for 24,000 years as further attempts to clean up a leak have been abandoned. Tens of thousands of radioactive fuel fragments escaped from the Dounreay plant between 1963 and 1984, polluting local beaches, the coastline and the seabed. Fishing has been banned within a two-kilometre radius of the plant since 1997. link

Sellafield - formerly known as Windscale.

Originally called Windscale, the nuclear site was renamed as Sellafield by BNFL in 1981, in what was considered to be a vain attempt to improve its poor public image after a string of accidents. Sellafield is a large and complex nuclear chemical facility located in West Cumbria. The site has played a pivotal role within the nuclear industry since the 1940s. Site operations include fuel reprocessing, fuel fabrication and storage of nuclear materials and radioactive wastes. Calder Hall, located on the site, was the world's first commercial nuclear power station. Generation started in 1956 and ceased in 2003. Windscale, also located on the site, comprises three reactors. Two of the reactors were shut down in 1957 and the third one was closed in 1981. Substantial damage by fire to one of the reactors in 1957 has created significant additional decommissioning challenges.  link  [Sellafield is regarded as the most dangerous and polluted industrial site in western Europe, not least because it houses 120 tonnes of plutonium, the largest civilian stockpile in the world. link]

Britain's worst-ever nuclear accident. It says something for how Britain's nuclear establishment worked from the start that when Windscale No1 Pile caught fire in October 1957, it was hushed up so well that even with 11 tons of uranium ablaze for three days, the reactor close to collapse and radioactive material spreading across the Lake District, the people who worked there were expected to keep quiet and carry on making plutonium for the bomb. The history is now told in Sellafield Stories after six decades.

Decommissioning. The BBC reported that it will take over 100 years before the toxic nuclear reprocessing site at Sellafield (formerly Windscale) is safe. A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd said: "Sellafield isn't a place that can just be closed down. It is about the removal of plant and equipment from the building, it is about decontaminating and knocking them down, that takes decades.  It has been estimated that it will cost 73 bn ($136 bn) to decommission all nuclear civilian facilities in the
UK. link   (February 2013) The cost of cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear waste site has reached 67.5bn with no sign of when the cost will stop rising - link
May 2011: Sellafield’s Mox problems aggravated by Japan’s disaster. Mox fuel is made by mixing plutonium dioxide retrieved from spent fuel rods with uranium oxide. The promise of lucrative Japanese contracts for Mox fuel was the primary reason the Sellafield Mox plant was finally licensed in 2001 after years of legal wrangling. However, since it was given its operating licence by the previous government, the Mox Plant has been beset by problems. Instead of producing 120 tonnes of fuel a year, it has managed just over 13 tonnes in eight years, at a total cost to the taxpayer of 1.34bn – and a further 800m in future running costs expected this decade. The fuel was intended to be shipped to Hamaoka in Japan which has been described as the world's most dangerous nuclear power facility because it sits on two geological faults.This plant may probably be shut down. Meanwhile, the severe production problems at the Sellafield Mox Plant have meant that the first fuel shipments would not be delivered until at least the end of the decade, more than 10 years behind schedule. The Mox plant, which has been described as one of the biggest disasters in Britain's industrial history. link

May 2009: Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant to close. Sellafield Ltd, the company that runs Thorp, admitted that it may have to close for several years owing to a series of technical problems. The huge 1.8bn plant imports spent nuclear fuel from around the world and returns it to countries as new reactor fuel. But a series of catastrophic technical failures with associated equipment means Thorp could be mothballed at a cost of millions of pounds. link  [Sellafield to close in 2018 - link]

Coal  /  Carbon capture

Over the past 60 years, coal’s share of total UK energy supply has fallen from 90%in 1948, to 50% in 1968. Of the coal used in the UK in 2009, 81.3% was for electricity generation; this contributed 27.7% of all UK electricity supplies. link

In the UK, 31% percent of electricity currently comes from coal-burning power stations. However, a third of these power stations are expected to close by 2016 so that they meet EU air quality legislation. This means that Britain will become less reliant on coal as a source of energy and will need to look at alternative energy sources. link

Britain has long been dependent upon coal mining as an industry. Since the 1970s the industry declined to where now 75% of coal is imported. In April 2009, the government gave the go-ahead for a new generation of coal-fired power plants - but only if they can prove they can reduce their emissions. Up to four new plants will be built if they are fitted with technology to trap and store CO2 emissions underground. The technology is not yet proven and would only initially apply to 25% of power stations' output. In 2008 coal power stations provided 31% of the UK's electricity but a third of them are due to close in the next ten years. link      

April 2012: Carbon capture in UK under threat as study raises doubts. Serious doubts have been raised over the prospects for carbon capture and storage in the UK in the first comprehensive investigation into the technology, just two weeks after the government launched a 1 billion competition to build the first demonstration plant. The finding by the government-funded UK Energy Research Council endangers many of the government's assumptions on tackling climate change because ministers' long-term plans rely heavily on making the untried technique work on a massive scale. CCS is designed to lower the of carbon emissions of fossil fuel power stations. Jim Watson, lead author of the report, said: "People assumed that CCS would be straightforward, but it has not been. It is a particularly challenging technology – it's actually very, very difficult." Long delays have already plagued attempts to get CCS off the ground in the UK. The Treasury's initial plan for companies and consortiums to compete for a 1bn funding pot for a first demonstration plant was set out more than five years ago – but late last year it collapsed when the final potential entry withdrew.  On 3 April, ministers unveiled a new competition.    link

November 2009: UK carbon capture 'dead on its feet' says expert, with only one of the three projects in the running capable of delivering a full scale working demonstration plant by the 2014 deadline. link   October  2010: E.On UK withdraws its Kingsnorth project from the competition saying it is uneconomic. link  Scottish Power's Longannet project in Fife was the only entrant in the government's CCS competition. That plan collapsed October 2011 when the project was cancelled (see CCS page for more).

Fracking in Britain

In May 2012, the British Government rejected shale gas technology as a solution to Britain's energy crisis, conceding it will do little to cut bills or keep the lights on. Industry experts made clear at a meeting attended by senior ministers that the UK's reserves were smaller than first thought and could be uneconomical to extract. link  Then in December 2012, Britain’s Energy Secretary said the current moratorium on shale gas production, which was put in place after fracking caused two small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011 would end. link  In the summer of 2013, protesters clashed with police in Balcombe, West Sussex, over Cuadrilla's test drilling site. (Cuadrilla is drilling a 3,000ft vertical well and a 2,500ft horizontal bore south of the village in a search for oil.)  link

Experts assess the pros and cons of fracking in the UK.   
September 2013)The shale gas and fracking revolution has become a hot topic of conversation within the British politics and energy arenas. The prospect of potential long-term fracking has divided the nation causing protests with celebrity endorsements and test drilling exploration in Balcombe. Opinions and accusations have ben published which leaves the neutrals unsure who to believe. Its supporters will state that fracking will deliver cheaper energy, provide many jobs and create economic recovery. Its opponents will explain that the process can trigger earthquakes, pollute water supplies and create waste whilst adding to the addiction and obsession of fossil fuels. Whilst the two opinions have come to loggerheads the government is keen on potentially throwing caution to the wind as test drills have now being conducted by energy firm Quadrilla. Inlec UK Ltd offer this article (Fracking – Is this the Future of UK Energy?) which discusses the pros and cons of fracking and highlights the differences in opinions amongst experts.  (January 2014: Public support for fracking in Britain continues to fall – link)

September 2013: Caudrilla applies for new licences. The company at the heart of the anti-fracking protests in Sussex is applying for new licences to drill for oil in the local area, to the fury of campaigners, and is planning to reopen its Lancashire operations within weeks. The Balcombe site was first drilled for oil by Conoco in the 1980s, but was found to be not economically viable. link  (October 2013: Caudrilla pulls out of Lancashire drilling - link) Jan. 2014: Caudrilla pulls out of Balcombe link

November 2011: Shale gas push would wreck UK's climate change targets. As in the U.S., shale gas obtained through fracking, is viewed as an energy solution. But burning it for fuel results in large-scale CO2 emissions, and in a report commissioned by the Cooperative Group, scientists warned that exploiting even a minor proportion of this gas would generate so much CO2 that the government's greenhouse gas emissions targets would be rendered unreachable. Exploiting even one-fifth of the Lancashire shale gas reserves alone would produce about 15% of the total CO2 that the UK can produce between now and 2050, if government targets are to be adhered to. Those targets state that CO2 emissions are to be cut by 80% by 2050. link

September 2013: Fracking would lower energy prices is baseless, says Lord Stern - link
"No Dash For Gas" - web site   


July 2009:  Britain's Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) has unveiled 19 ideas which could transform the UK into a sustainable society. SDC's "Breakthroughs for the 21st century" project sets out to identify the ideas which could make the biggest impact on Britain's efforts to tackle climate change, resource depletion and inequality. Titled Time to raise our game: 19 ways to make the UK more sustainable, of almost 300 ideas submitted by the public, businesses, academics, and sustainability professionals, 19 were selected by SDC Commissioners as potential breakthroughs.

August 2013: UK homes use 25% less energy over 6 years.The average home energy usage in England and Wales fell by 24.7% between 2005 and 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Across England and Wales, average household energy consumption fell from 26.2 megawatt hours (mWh) in 2005 to 19.7mWh in 2011. link

June 2012: Standby devices costing UK 1.3 bn a year. The UK is wasting up to 1.3bn a year as a direct result of stand-by settings and devices that are left on when not in use, according to a ground-breaking new government study that has provided the most accurate picture to date of how households use computers, televisions, and other electrical appliances. The study  involved the installation of over 250 advanced smart meters in owner-occupied households and the surveying of participants in the trial on their use of electrical appliances. link  (Standby devices comprise 16% of household energy bills – link)

Zero Carbon Britain: Academics in Britain have come together under the banner ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ to map out how fossil fuels could be eliminated within 20 years without resource to nuclear power. An updated report (June 2010) report that shows how Britain could eliminate emissions by 2030 link  The recycling rate inched up to 40.4% in 2011 with the amount of waste sent to landfill by local authorities falling by 11%.  link
Recycling breakthrough. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) says recycling in 2006 saved 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking five million cars off the road. In Leicestershire, Biffa (an integrated waste management business) is building a system for turning rubbish into electricity; anything organic in the city's rubbish - old pizza boxes, food scraps, dirty paper - gets pulverized in a deafening, dark and smelly hall.  link

We highly recommend the Guardian Environment web page: link 
Also recommended is the BBC’s Green Room:  link 

* Arctic Britain link:   


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