Dependable energy sources

In this article, Nicola Bannister discusses the most reliable forms of energy at our disposal and how different energy sources are currently shifting in use across the UK

The UK energy scene is transforming significantly. The country’s consumption of energy is increasing, with research predicting that energy use will rise by 50 per cent between 2005 and 2030, mainly due to the nation’s growing population and increased demand for energy. So, which energy sources constitute the market and how reliable are they in fuelling the UK?

Renewable energy sources
There’s an increasing drive towards renewable energy sources, both in the UK and across the globe. Many countries are investing in solar panels and wind farms to generate electricity in new ways — but many believe that these are less reliable sources of energy, which is causing some concern.

Solar is improving in popularity as a renewable energy source. Currently, the UK is leading in Europe with the growth of solar energy produced. However, following the UK government’s decision to cut incentives for householders to fit solar panel and for solar farms to be built, the amount of solar power panels installed in 2016 fell by around 50 per cent compared to the previous year. Of course, solar energy depends on the intensity and availability of sunlight, which means it is not considered a fully reliable source.

Wind power
Similar to solar power’s dependency on sunlight, wind farms are clean forms of energy that ideally require strong gusts to generate sufficient power. Positively, in 2016, it was reported that windfarms across the UK generated more electricity than coal power plants and were able to produce more power than solar panels.

Although a contentious form of energy, nuclear power is a popular source in the UK. In an article published in The Guardian in June 2017, it was reported that it accounted for 23.2 per cent of energy generated in the UK. This source of energy is also reliable as it can provide power whenever it is needed. Fortunately, it does not emit carbon dioxide, but can be very dangerous and harmful if an accident occurs onsite.

Fossil fuels
Despite the drive towards green energy, the UK is still quite dependent on fossil fuels. Made up of natural gas and coal, it is a reliable form of energy that has supplied both domestic and commercial needs for many years.

Natural gas
The benefit of natural gas is that it can provide energy when required — unlike wind and solar. According to Open Access Government, the presence of gas fired power stations was up 45 per cent between 2015 and 2016, which some say could be because of the collapse of coal-generated energy.

Regarding emissions, natural gas gives off 45 per cent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 per cent less than oil, according to the same Open Access Government article. This shows that the impact that natural gas has on the environment is not as extreme as alternative forms of fuel, which may make it a more attractive option.

As a nation, we use gas for multiple purposes, which is another reason it is a popular energy source for households and industries. Uses include domestic practices, such as cooking, heating and drying, as well as generating electrical power, providing energy to vehicles, producing plastics, and many more useful purposes in commerce. Gas is the most available energy source worldwide and is extracted by many countries for use through a drilling method.

Three major coal power stations closed last year, which led to coal electricity generation plummeting from 22.6 per cent to 9.2 per cent, as reported in The Guardian. Now, it is at its lowest output in 80 years, which green groups are claiming is great news due to the energy source’s effect on the environment.

There are typically pros and cons to all energy sources. Cleaner varieties can be unreliable, while fossil fuels may have a detrimental effect on the environment. But the question: is which is the most dependable? Overall, it appears that natural gas is the most reliable, accessible and resilient. Although renewable energy is on the rise, it is not always able to provide power — and this can be problematic.

Nicola Bannister is Marketing Manager at Flogas, one of the UK’s leading LNG, LPG and mains gas providers, which offers commercial gas prices to clients around the UK and abroad. Part of the FTSE 100, Flogas supplies energy solutions to both business and domestic customers, with sister companies that deliver energy to countries including France, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

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