UK Energy Policy – History and Future

Friday 15th November, 7:00 pm for 7:30, Unity House, Fennel Street Loughborough

Steam rises from a power station behind the Royd Moor windfarm in Penistone near Sheffield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters. The Observer, Sunday 10th January 2010

When wood started to become scarce, Britain led the way in the industrial revolution, fuelled by coal. When hay was running short, internal combustion engines replaced horses for road transport, and then the oil age also brought us aviation. Natural gas fuels central heating boilers and much of our electricity generation. Everything was going great (??) until global warming, the threat of peak oil and the global recession came along. Now the energy challenges are immense:

  • Will energy be affordable?
  • Can we stop climate change?
  • Can we keep the lights on? Should we keep the lights on?

Where do we go from here?

  • Can we supply all our energy needs from renewable energy?
  • What do we do when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine?
  • Is carbon capture and storage feasible or safe?
  • Is nuclear power safe?
  • How much energy do we actually use? Or need?
  • Just insulate every loft?
  • Plant lots of trees?

With the help of the DECC 2050 Calculator Dr John Barton will explore the options with the Friday Room.

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2 Responses to UK Energy Policy – History and Future

  1. Just thought I’d share with people a link to the 2050 energy pathways calculator which John introduced:

    https://www.gov.uk/2050-pathways-analysis

    In addition I saw this today and reproduce the abstract from a paper in the journal “Energy Policy”. This presents an analysis of public preferences for a low carbon future UK and compares them scenarios proposed by the UK government. 10,983 self-selected participants used the ‘My2050’ online simulation. Participants expressed a stronger preference for demand-side options than for supply-side ones. They also chose fuel switching (to electricity) and technical energy efficiency measures above more behaviour focused options. Renewable energy options (wind, solar, marine and hydro) were preferred to other low carbon supply options (nuclear power, carbon capture and storage), with offshore wind power more popular than onshore. Nuclear power was the least popular generation option. Acceptability of the government′s three proposed scenarios was tested by comparing these scenarios with the research findings. Greatest support was suggested for the two scenarios emphasising business greenness, home energy efficiency, electrification of home heating and travel behaviour. The lowest level of support was demonstrated for the scenario based on significant growth in nuclear power with minimal increases in energy efficiency. Despite issues regarding the representivity of the sampled respondents, the work demonstrates the possibility of using outputs from the tool to assess publically preferred pathways.

  2. John Barton says:

    Hello All,

    I thought we might be interested to know that the Labour Party have published an ‘Energy Green Paper’, a consultation document, http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/agenda-2015/policy-review/policy-review/energy-green-paper . Look for the ‘PDF Download’ for the full document.

    The main aim of the proposals is to make energy pricing clearer and to stop the big 6 energy companies from making large profits.

    One of the underlying problems has been the hidden prices of wholesale electricity and gas, especially when companies have both an upstream or generation arm and a downstream or consumer supply arm, so called transfer pricing, with potential cross subsidy. There are many articles about it:

    https://fullfact.org/factchecks/energy_generation_profits-29248

    http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2312118/Power-giants-hide-profits-dodge-price-controls-Shadow-energy-secretary-fears-Ofgem-weak-stop-big-cashing-household-bills-soar.html

    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/86322/actionstoimprovethetransparencyofenergycompanyprofits.pdf

    John

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