zondag 3 november 2013

Looking to the Future - Alternative Energy in the United Kingdom

As interest in alternative energy grows, countries around the world are investing in these technologies in order to reduce the use of fossil fuels and decrease damaging carbon emissions. The United Kingdom has made great strides in this effort, increasing its use of wind power and solar significantly over the past few decades. Though economic downturns and market forces have threatened to derail the country’s advances, the UK appears to be firmly committed to re-design the nation’s infrastructure to utilize these modern forms of energy.

Wind Farm Output Surges
Though the origins of large-scale wind power go back to the 1970s, its popularity has surged and waned over past decades. In 2007, the government of the United Kingdom joined the nations of the European Union in committing to the use of alternative energy for the area’s power. The UK is expected to generate 15 percent of their power by 2020. Construction of both onshore an offshore wind farms began in earnest. By 2008, the UK became the world leader in offshore wind power generation. Many of the largest onshore wind farms are located on the windy, open tracts of Scotland. Though wind power is variable, and optimum range of wind speeds are required to both generate power yet avoid damaging the equipment, power generation from this source continues to grow as a significant component in serving country’s energy needs.

Solar Power
Solar power had a slow start in the United Kingdom, probably because of its highly variable weather. However, as solar panels improved in efficiency and decreased in price, this form of energy has seen a surge in popularity. Today, the first large solar farm is under construction in Leicestershire and expected to be completed in 2013. Recently, the solar industry has run into a problem when the government began considering a tariff on panels imported from China. The panels are suspected of being “dumped” on the European market below cost, hurting many domestic manufacturers. However, the solar construction industry has claimed that the additional tariffs will cause solar conversions to be less financially attractive to customers and will cause the loss of thousands of jobs in the UK. Before this proposal is instituted, the issue will require intensive investigation to ensure that all parties can be adequately protected. However, this problem highlights the significant gains solar power conversion is making in the United Kingdom.

Nuclear Power
Nuclear power has been a significant source of power for the United Kingdom for decades. As the changeover to alternative energy is accomplished, the country is expected to continue to rely on it because it is a dependable source of power, unaffected by weather conditions. However, nuclear plants have a limited lifespan, and the cost of rebuilding these plants in other countries has been shown to be prohibitively expensive. In addition, safety concerns about nuclear power have grown since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011. The United Kingdom is likely to step up plans for other energy sources rather than commit to construction of more nuclear power plants.

Sam Jones writes about energy and environmental issues. He keeps a watchful eye on the energy suppliers and recommends that people use an energy comparison site to help move to a green or cheap gas and electric tariff

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