There are four main things to consider when reviewing the right balance of energy mix for the UK:
Every energy source has its strengths and weaknesses. It could be limited in supply, which could eventually lead to interruptions in the supply of electricity.
Take fossil fuels for example. They are finite resources and one day they will eventually run out.
And there’s renewable energy sources from wind, sunlight and water. They’re seemingly inexhaustible and definitely a good idea, yet they come with their own set of limitations.
It takes a lot of money and many years to locate sites, plan and build new power stations. And despite Government commitments to low-carbon energy targets, there are many hurdles to overcome.
Heavy investment in offshore wind farms means that wind power will play a much larger part in our overall energy mix. Plus, new nuclear power stations are also planned for the UK.
When we talk about security, we mean having the right amount of fuel to maintain an electricity supply.
Where fuel comes from is important. If the UK relies too heavily on imported fuel, it will be exposed to fluctuating market prices and various disruptions to supply.
Materials such as uranium, used to generate nuclear energy are imported however due to its high energy density and availability from several countries; it can be used and stored relatively easily.
In the UK, there is a limited supply of coal and gas, so it needs to import a lot of this too. However, the UK shouldn’t rely on it in the long term.
We can boost our energy security by reducing our dependence on imports and using more renewable sources, such as wind, solar and marine, that can all produce energy that can be stored.
A reliable energy source is one that is able to consistently produce energy and can meet peaks in demands. That’s why having the right mix of energy sources is good. Because when electricity sources are flexible it means output can be altered fairly quickly to meet demand.
It’s important to maintain a base level of power, the minimum needed to keep your house lights on. But an effective way of storage is also important so it can be called upon if it’s needed.
This is determined as the amount energy suppliers pay to electricity generators for the electricity required to meet demand.
What’s going to determine the future price of electricity? The answer, as you might expect, is complex.
With many of the UK’s existing power stations due to close in 10 to 15 years, a lot of investment is needed to build new power plants. At the same time, technology is rapidly advancing which could inevitably make energy more efficient and affordable. And that’s good news.