Energy conservation is all
about altering our behaviour in such a way that we become less wasteful with
our resources. However, equally important
issues to consider are the origins of our fuel and the subsequent energy we use
in our everyday lives. Where does it all come from? How long will the resources
last? What kind of damage do we cause by extracting them and using them? Can
they be replaced by some other type of resource? These are just a few questions
worth considering when we turn the kettle or the light switch on.
There are two groups of fuel
source: fossil fuels and renewable source of energy.
Fossil fuels: There are three main fossil
natural gas and oil.
Fossil fuels originate from ancient fossilized organic materials such as
decayed plants or algae but as they has taken millions of years to form they
are classified as a mineral and not organic.
Coal: In 2010 the UK mined over 17 million
tonnes of coal,
10 million of which was from surface mining and only 7 million tonnes from
underground. This is significantly less than the 225 million tonnes a year
which were mined in the mid 1950’s. Coal still produces around 30% of
electricity in the UK but many old coal fired power
stations will be closing in the next few years and any new ones will need to
meet tough emission standards.
Natural Gas: In the 1990’s there
was a dramatic increase in the use of natural gas to produce electricity partly
due to new efficient Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Generators and also the
increase in the production of gas in the UK from the North Sea. Natural Gas now
accounts for around 40% of electricity generation.
40% oil is used for energy or heating, 45% for transport, with the rest used
for making plastics, chemicals or other uses.
Nuclear Energy: can be a controversial issue. Currently
around 15% of UK electricity is generated from nuclear. The Government has
produced a White Paper on the future of electricity generation which includes
the shutting down of old nuclear power stations and measures to attract
investment to for new nuclear, amongst other electricity sources. The
Government promote nuclear as a low carbon, affordable, dependable and safe.
Low carbon electricity generation is important in the fight to prevent climate
change but some people are still worried about the pollution problems
associated with the energy production and waste storage. The World
Nuclear Association and
the Nuclear Industry Association
of the state and evolution of nuclear power industry in the UK.