How do you make your energy market more able to resist the vagaries of fossil fuel prices? You install more wind turbines of course! This was the conclusion of a new report by Cambridge Econometrics, commissioned by the UK renewable Industry's main body; RenewableUK. The dwindling supplies of domestic gas and coal mean that the UK must become more dependant on imports, leaving the country exposed to the fluctuations of overseas energy supply and demand. This volatility can be reduced in impact by having a greater supply of domestically produced wind power. More turbines, please!
Sophie Billington is a researcher for Cambridge Econometrics. She said:
"One of the main messages from this report is that in a scenario with a higher content of wind energy, you are less reliant on fossil fuels. This is a key message, particularly when you consider that the UK - for the past five years or so - has imported more gas than it has produced domestically."
The figures speak for themselves- the report says that the UK saved £579 million in fossil fuel costs in 2013 by using renewable energy. And of course, green energy helps reduce the UK and the world's carbon pollution.
The report also said that the UK electricity sector had undergone a substantial change in recent decades, shifting from a coal-based system to a more balanced mix "encompassing nuclear and gas-fired power stations, as well as emerging renewable energy technologies".
However, it's not all a rosy future that's a-coming. The report said that the energy sector in the UK will need to be "re-shaped again" in the next decade or two if the UK's targets to reduce CO2 emissions are to be met. This shouldn't be difficult- the UK has one of the world's best wind resources and is a world leader in offshore wind, with, wait for it, as much generation capacity as the rest of the world combined. That's mightily impressive! Remember that in 2008, the UK established the world's first legally binding climate change target, requiring governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. That's any government, so the new government following this May's General Election in the UK will have to obey the law. However, at present, the UK does not have sufficient wind turbines and other renewable generators to meet that target.
The bottom line is what your Mum used to tell you "never put all your eggs in one basket". You need a rich energy mix, which will also benefit consumers- if you have different technologies, including renewables, competing against each other then the cost should be driven down for the consumer.