UK Slashes Electric Power Carbon Emissions By 50%

Wilton gas power station

Increased Use of Renewables but Still a Reliance on Natural Gas

2017 was a landmark year in greener energy production. But there is still work to be done to meet future targets.

The UK’s energy producers broke a whole host of records in 2017 when it came to reducing emissions and creating greener energy. The nation is using less coal power than ever – in fact, in April, the UK went for an entire 24 hour period without using any coal power whatsoever – something that had not happened in more than 200 years.

Wind and solar power is contributing steadily more to the national grid and has gone a long way towards taking up the strain. However, it is not all good news, and there is still a long way to go.

Increased reliance on gas

Renewables taking up some of the strain is a step in the right direction, but the truth is that reducing our use of coal has meant we are more reliant than ever on natural gas for our power generation. And while all the investment is being ploughed into windfarms and solar energy, the outdated gas infrastructure is struggling to cope.

Given our 21st century dependency on a reliable electrical supply, it comes as no surprise that homes and businesses are taking measures of their own to make sure the power stays on. Many are taking advantage of generator hire services to keep the lights on, the heating running and all our other electrical necessities operational.

For businesses, the need to keep the power on is even more crucial. There is very little that anyone can do in the modern day office without an internet connection, and with today’s electronic entry systems, it is often the case that you cannot even access the site if the power is down.

Pinch points

It is no secret that when we experience extreme weather conditions in the UK, the electrical supply can often be affected. Yet as power generation methods have changed over the past year, this is likely to become an even bigger issue.

In years gone by, power was generated using a combination of fuels and methods including gas, coal, renewables and nuclear. The most recent initiatives to all but eliminate coal are great from an emissions perspective, but produce a genuine pinch point in times of high demand and / or extreme weather.

The increased use of wind and solar energy is impressive, but the energy it generates has to be seen in context. Gas produced more energy that all the renewables put together on more than 90 percent of days in 2017.

The fact that we are still relying so heavily on gas to meet our power needs means it is almost inevitable that we will face more power outages whenever there is a surge in demand or a sudden cold snap. It also suggests that unless we can wean ourselves off it, we will have difficulty meeting future emissions targets.

There is no denying that the progress made in 2017 has been significant and is something to celebrate. However, there a great deal of work to be done to truly revolutionise our power generation infrastructure, and turn it into something that is environmentally responsible and sustainable for future generations.