How EU Will Achieve Its Climate Change Target in UK

by Jason Shaw

Introduction and the EU Target

            The UK Climate Change Act was set in 2008. According to the target set by the Climate Change Act, the green house reductions are to come down by 26% compared to the 1990 levels. The Climate Change Committee predicts that 30% of the overall electricity from UK would come from wind by 2020. Other than this, in the renewable energy targets for the EU, the 15% overall demand for electricity has to be met from renewable sources. This will also include heating and transport and hence overall renewable electricity generation of around has to be increased by 30% by 2020 to meet the energy demands. The paper would shed light on how the EU is going to achieve its goal, what obstacles it encounters, and the possibilities for reaching its target.

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Sources of Energy in the UK

 In UK energy sources are via both renewable an non renewable sourcues.

During 2004, total electricity generated stood as following:

  • gas – 39.93% (0.05% in 1990)
  • coal – 33.08% (67.22% in 1990)
  • nuclear – 19.26% (18.97% in 1990)
  • renewables – 3.55% (0% in 1990)
  • hydroelectric – 1.10% (2.55% in 1990)
  • imports – 1.96% (3.85% in 1990)
  • oil – 1.12% (6.82% in 1990)

The current electricity consumption in UK stands a 330 TWh p.a reduced in 2009  . At the moment the statistics of it’s fuels stand as following:

  1. Coal – 29%
  2. Natural Gas- 45%
  3. Nuclear- 17%
  4. Oil – 1%
  5. Hydro and Renewables – 5%
  6. Wind – 3 %

During the 1940s, coal was the UK’s main source of electricity. Coal took charge of 90 per cent of the UK’s producing power, while oil took care of the remaining. The UK quickly started to broaden its potential and domains for energy development. In the 1950s, via the Calder Hall that was added to the grid on 27 August 1956, it acquired nuclear generation capacity. This established the set pattern for the country’s numerous other related civilian stations. At this point, more than 26% of the nation’s electricity was produced by nuclear power. It peaked in the middle of the 1970s. The total production of electricity from oil started to decrease during this time.

Electricity generation from coal has been scaled up to improve gas-fuelled generation since the beginning of 1993 and all the way through to the 1990s. To facilitate this project, numerous measures have been taken. This involves the privatisation of British Gas by the National Coal Commission, the implementation of new measures that encourage competitiveness in the UK industry, and the provision of cheap gas from the North Sea. Around 1900 to 2005, the shift in scenario was from 1.09 percent to 30.25 percent of gas generated used in electricity production. By then, power station coal output had already fell by 43.6 percent relative to the previous 1980 rate, but in 1999 it was marginally higher. In the 1990s, and somewhere in the centre, green energy sources started to develop in the UK. They have contributed to the cumulative electricity produced there by giving birth to the potential to produce hydroelectricity in the UK.

Current Energy Consumption In the United Kingdom

According to latest estimates, the United Kingdom absorbs a per capita oil equivalent of 3894 kgs. On the opposite, around 1778.0 kilogrammes of oil per capital is processed by the planet. The overall energy expended in the last 2 years was 9.85 exajoules, according to the statistics conducted by the worldwide total. This suggests that it is an approximate 2% of the world’s overall resources of 474 EJ. In the last 2 years, the total demand for energy has averaged 40 GW and stood at 60 GW. The electricity sector in the UK has been rising steadily over the last 5 years.

UK 2008-Primary Energy Consumption (Energy resources)

The table indicates that primary energy use dropped by 1.8 percent in 2008 in the UK. The table reveals that the UK is reliant on oil and gas for 75 percent of its resources. The use of both oil and gas has risen, while coal consumption has declined by 10.7 percent. In power production, approximately 40 percent of the primary energy used was used. Likewise, the output from clean energy sources saw a gradual rise from 4.0 percent to 4.8 percent of overall energy usage.

Supply Chain Issues and Costs

            The UK electricity generation industry is confronted with various supply chain related issues and costs. Most power generation suppliers have analyzed their electricity generation portfolio in the light of Large Combustion plant directive and the UK and European targets for low carbon generation. The rising competition and changing infrastructure of the industry has made it incumbent for the companies to re-think and reorganize their supply chain strategically compared to what they were during the 1950S and the 1960s.

A report was conducted by the UK Energy Research center. According to the report, there was a major dearth in the manufacturing competition and planning. Moreover supply chain constraints, and rising inflation have increased the offshore costs incurred by farms to above 3 million pounds per mega watts. There is over 70% dependency on the off shore wind farms from overseas.

Similarly electricity generation via Bio Mass has also been hindered due to critical supply chain issues in the UK. According to a research conducted by Smart Vendors, investment in this sector has been obstructed due to critical supply chain issues in the UK bio mass supply.

Energy Sources Due to Close in UK

CO2 Emissions from the Current Energy Sources:

            At the moment green house gas concentrations in the atmosphere is on the rise. Current levels stand at 380 ppm and continue growing. In UK more than a third of carbon emissions are from renewable energy.

            The Kyoto Protocol was written in Japan in 1997 with the aim of implementing the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change. Around 39 countries signed the Kyoto. The Kyoto protocol legally bound the countries who signed up for it to bring down the world wide emissions of green house gases by around 5.2% compared to what their levels in the period 2008-2012. The UK government aims at bringing down the emissions by 20 % from the 1990 levels by 2020

In UK emissions stood at 575 million tones in 2008. Major sources of carbon dioxide emissions include energy sources, domestic, home and business.

How EU Will Achieve Its Climate Change Target in UK

The Climate Change Act:

            The climate change act was proposed by the UK government and this act legally bound the UK government with the target of 80% cut in green house gases by 2050. The overall reduction emissions would be of 34% by 2020. Both targets have been set against the 1990 baseline.

In order to follow up on actions that would help take charge of steps to be taken to meet the targets, a committee on climate change was created. It was stipulated that the government will present a report on risks from climate change every 5 years.

It also committed EU countries to cut down on carbon dioxide emission by 20% by 2020 from the 1990 levels. The UK target was 15% of its total demand for energy from renewable by 2020. This implies an approximate increase to 30% using reneweable sources to generate electricity by 2020.

Role of Government in Meeting the EU Target:

            The British Government has taken various steps with respect to energy consumption. They had launched a Low Carbon Transition Plan in July 2009. The plan aims at some 30% renewable and 40% of low carbon dioxide content fuel where electricity generation is concerned in the next 20 years.

How EU Will Achieve Its Climate Change Target in UK

The winners for the same were announced recently by NDA at its nuclear site auction in which a  new process for Sellafield site was announced. These actions have been taken amidst swift economic and financial crisis that has taken over Europe these days. Europe’s consumption went down by 5% and the primary production faced a major dip. The trade deficit went down by 8% due to reduction in energy importants.

Similarly supply chain issues in the UK grind lines have to be taken care of to reach the target. There are some ambitious plan in this regard. Some power firms such as Drax Group and MGT Power are planning to put up to seven large-scale biomass power production installations on air by 2014. these lines will be able to generate 2100 megawatts of energy. The demand for biomass is being driven up the wall through the Government incentives. The UK government is keen on scaling up its current production capacity via power generators and city councils to scale up the use of biomass for renewable power generation. However insiders within the industry claim that UK will only be able to 60 mile radius of the overall bio mass facility.

Government Policies:

            Government policies have a major role to play where meeting energy demand and supply is concerned. Shifting available resources and development of technologies has a major role to play in the country’s energy mix through cost changes. Government policies have a pivotal role to play in UK meeting it’s specified target. UK Government policy expects that the over all contribution to renewable electricity generation should increase by 10% in 2010. This is in sync with 2020 EU target of increasing electricity generation of renewables by 30% till 2020.

Renewable Energies:

            In their bid to reach the EU target, the government framework drivers were put forward. This included the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO). It was introduced in 1989 and it demanded that electricity suppliers were able to secure special amounts of generation capacities from non fossil fuel sources such as biomass, hydro and wind. The effort was undertaken to create an initial market and encourage the renewable energy industries. These efforts were expected to take care of 3.5 GW of UK needs by 2003. Scottish government came forward with a similar offer called the SRO-SRO-3

The government also launched some other framework drivers. This included the obligation on all electricity suppliers to ensure that 15% of their electricity was provided from renewable sources by 2015.  The obligation will bing the electricity suppliers till 2037. It is DTI’s main way of ensuring that growth and investment takes place in the renewables industry. These targets helped save 2.5 million tones of carbon emissions in 2010. A further review will be conducted and extended all the way till 2020.

There is a growing realization of the importance of sustainable and renewable forms of energy in UK. The need to establish wind forms and to rely on tidal forms has already been discussed. Some major investments needs to be made in these technologies of UK is to reach it’s EU target. This is because there is very little chance that any other sources will be able to match up with the short fall due to non-renewable sources. For instance, depleting oil reserves. Thus, given these circumstances it will be important to rest everything around little energy.

Barriers of the UK Meeting the EU Target

  • Coal/gas – coal reducing, now more expensive, natural gas increasing but need to import in near future from Norway or Eastern Europe
  • Nuclear – lots of early promise but now declining in UK; by 2020 operational life of current plant exceeded. Conventional fossil fuel energy plant in the UK now 30-40 years old – will need replacement. Opportunity for renewables?
  • Renewables: 6% and growing

While it is expected that 20% of the energy supply would be renewable sources of energy by 2020 , it would be difficult to find wind farm sites and lay them down. Further more, these sites are very difficult to build and construct.  Oil and gas reserves are already depleting, UK’s coal industry is on the verge of a break down and the UK has to relay its economy around 25% of its current energy.

There are numerous challenges that need to be tackled over come for efficient power supply and electricity generation in order to reach the EU target. The primary question in this regard is if power generation companies are willing to face the music when it comes delivering quality products. Various construction projects need to be undertaken to support energy generation from various renewable avenues. Some of them have already been undertaken. These include the construction of Terminal at Heathrow. In order to achieve targets smartly and in af cost effective manner, it is important for countries.

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