New Figures Hail the Winds of Change

Government figures, recently released, show there has been a big increase in electricity generated by renewable sources.

Government figures, recently released, show there has been a big increase in electricity generated by renewable sources. According to the annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics, not only did UK electricity production from renewables increase by 33% last year, but also electricity generation from onshore wind increased by 45% and offshore wind increased by 68%. In addition, 9.4% of all UK electricity generation came from renewable sources. However, the UK's reliance on imported fossil fuels hit a 36 year high.

These figures showing the rise in electricity production from alternative energy sources certainly make for good reading. They indicate that we are increasingly moving in the right direction and it shows we are realising the impact of depleting fossil fuels - not to mention the carbon emissions created by burning them. But before we start leaping around with joy, it's worth considering - is this enough? I'm not convinced that this it is. I don't think we're anywhere near where we need to be, and the figures showing our reliance on imported fossil fuels certainly prove that.

It is true to say that as a nation we used to be a net exporter of fuel and now we are a net importer. I'm not one to get all heavy about things, but this situation makes us vulnerable. When you're importing fuel from potentially unstable parts of the world it leaves you open to fluctuating prices. Then there is the unpredictability of political and financial motives that could jeopardise the UK's supply. Add that to the fact that we're experiencing more natural disasters than ever before, and this makes for a very insecure situation. Global events like that can have a huge impact on the energy supply chain.

Without wanting to sound like a teacher/preacher or an environmentalist, this highlights the need for better education about the importance of green energy. I can almost hear the yawns, but wait - although the crux of the subject is of course being able to go green, it goes far beyond that. The eco-aspect has to be seen as being more than tree-hugging, save-the-planet talk. It also needs to be about our economic climate. Most green energy isn't exportable, but the technologies developed to create it can be exported to the benefit of the UK economy. And let's face it, our economy could always do with a boost!

Fossil fuels account for around 85 percent of the population's energy needs each year and there are two schools of thought around its depletion. One is that we will run out, or face a severe shortage of them before the end of this century. This is because of the world's growing dependence on them. Can you remember the days before plugging in mobile phones, PCs, laptops, games consoles, multiple TVs per household, hair styling devices and coffee machines? Most family households these days will have more than one of each of those items. That's a lot of electricity! And our dependence is not the only thing that's growing, so is the population.

Another school of thought says that we won't run out of fossil fuels for centuries yet. My take on it? Whatever the scenario, the fact remains that fossil fuel is in finite supply. There is a growing demand on supplies like never before thanks to the civilised world and its love affair with appliances, therefore supplies are becoming more rapidly depleted. It's no surprise that the UK's reliance on imported fossil fuels hit a record 36 year high.

One can only hope that these figures about the role that wind, and other forms of sustainable energy, are playing in the UK's energy mix indicate a trend. We need to drastically reduce our reliance on unpredictable supplies of imported fossil fuels. Not just for the sake of our planet, but also the sake of our economy and consumers.


What's Hot