FUTURE ENERGY OPTIONS (from BBC Bang Goes the Theory)
Energy DEMAND in UK runs at about 50 gigawatts
CURRENT SUPPLY is from Nuclear 7gw
The equation between supply and demand is managed by the National Grid minute by minute
Our carbon reduction target is 34% by 2020
6 COAL fired power stations are to be closed down in next decade
8 NUCLEAR Stations are due to close. Govt intends to build new capacity up to 16GW
GAS stations offer instant control of supply and the lower C02 output than coal. But North Sea supply is dwindling. Imports so far from the Gulf, Norway and Russia. Hence rush for shale gas.
RENEWABLES consistent supply target is 15% (about 10GW) by 2020. 5000 OFF SHORE WIND Turbines could produce up to 10GW on best days. The European offshore wind capacity could be 100GW. So a network would allow imported power from wind turbines to even out supply.
TIDAL POWER is advancing as fast as investment, planning processes and technology allow. Tidal Lagoons Power (GB company) has a 12bn proposal in planning with likely decision in Spring 2015. If it goes ahead it is projected to supply 7GW (10%) by 2023. MeyGen have a project for 400 submerged turbines in the Pentland Firth (near Stroma Island) which would produce 400MW (0.4GW). Orkney based EMEC has a series of research projects in hand.
The potential exists for Renewables to exceed its 15% target by 2020 and to reach German levels of 40+% in the next decade – but only if government ensures due investment and support.
POWER STORAGE is crucial to even out the inevitable inconsistency of supply from renewables. A pilot project in Slough offers an original potential solution. High View Liquid Air Energy Storage have a plant that uses spare energy (eg at night) to freeze air to -200C. When released this converts to steam and drives turbines to meet power demand. This needs investment to scale up.
REDUCING DEMAND remains the best way forward through the familiar ideas of insulating houses, pv panels etc. On a grander scale KiWi POWER (London) has signed up 100s of companies nationwide to agreements that allow their non-essential use of electricity (eg air-con, pools, excess lighting) to be switched off when the National Grid signals demand is peaking. The Grid pays KiWi so there is no cost to the companies. Local Authorities needs to sign up and to act as advocates for this. (KiWi website is excellent).
IN SUMMARY: If government policies harness the real potential of renewables, energy storage and demand management, the panic pursuit of shale gas and the scaling up of nuclear stations should not be needed.