Small Steps To Reduce a Large Footprint
Posted on 5th April 2022 at 16:58
The UK was the first major economy to commit to achieving ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.
A twofold challenge: to stop making things worse than they already are and see if we can improve it.
Current Average Suppliers’ electricity mix for Businesses
33% Renewables – (mainly wind) - 44% Gas - 18% Nuclear - 5% Other
Historically the UK’s Grid Network was connected to power stations generating a continuous supply to meet demand. Adding renewable generation into the mix has created many supply/demand challengers and infrastructure costs; all new renewable sites require connecting to the Grid and due to the unpredictable British weather creates many more variable and unreliable levels of electricity production. The system needs to be constantly balanced; will it be windy & sunny enough to generate enough electricity when required? These are the challengers being faced in the electricity system to maintain a ensure a reliable and stable supply.
In recent years electricity bills have increased significantly mainly due to Government charges; net costs to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the network to assist new renewable operations. 50-55% of electricity costs/charges are for green levies and taxes. There are plans to add a ‘green levy tax’ to gas bills.
Current UK electricity production
39 offshore wind farms and 127 more at various stages of construction. 27 Biomass plants - Drax is the largest. 13 Operational Nuclear Reactors–50% to be retired by 2025. 2 Coal Power Stations to close October 2023. C. 500 - Green Gas and Solar Farm across the UK.
Hornsea One, off the East Yorkshire Coast has 174 turbines and is currently the world’s largest offshore wind farm, next door to Hornsea One which is due to complete in 2023 a much larger wind farm will have the capacity of 3.6GW able to power 6 million homes.
Gas is going Green too. A process called anaerobic digestion creating biomethane, a gas with similar characteristics to its fossil fuel equivalent. This is added to the existing natural gas network and delivered to customers whilst supporting British farmers and producers
Simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills - The 3 ‘R’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
1. Install energy efficient lighting and heating systems. LED lightbulbs use up to 90% less energy and last up to 20% longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
2. Use a team competition to encourage more environmental awareness on ways to reduce waste etc.
3. Switch light off when leaving a room; do not fill the kettle unnecessarily.
4. Adjust chillers, heating and or air con by just 1% (it won’t be noticed!)
5. Control thermostats and plugs to control energy wherever you are.
6. Install timer switches for overnight and external lighting.
7. Reduce unnecessary packaging and minimize single use plastic
8. Reduce use of the printer and minimize unnecessary emails.
9. Adjustments to supply chains could help to reduce your business’ costs/carbon footprint.
10. Estimates suggest by cutting energy costs by 20% equates to a 5% increase in sales.
Old Carbon Industry meets Clean Generation
Several abandoned coal mines are being repurposed for clean green energy projects. As they require to be kept safe by the UK Coal Authority billions of litres of water require to continuously pumped out which is extremely costly. Recently scientists and engineers had a ‘what if’ idea; the old redundant coal mines could be re-purposed by using their vast network of tunnels as a geothermal harness. As the ‘mine water’ is warmed naturally by geological process this warmed water could be pumped to the surface and used as a clean recyclable energy source. The Coal Authority have C. 30 various projects whose goal is to tap into the estimated 2.2 million GWh of annual constantly renewing geothermal energy held within the old coalmine infrastructure: turning a costly liability into a green renewal energy solution.
Where does this leave us now?
Recently the UK has suffered the perfect storm due to several worldwide circumstances colliding in unison. The global gas crunch is especially bad for the UK as C. 40% UK’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel in gas powered plants. In 2020/21 as the world came out of Covid lockdown hibernation saw a surge in demand across Asia & Europe. Add in Northern Hemisphere countries experienced a long cold winter reducing further the already depleted gas storage levels; creating a panic to secure any gas supplies which were left. Old Nuclear Plants needed to be temporarily closed for maintenance creating even less supply, a power main cable connector between France and the UK had to be shut down due to a fire in September in 2021 and finally the good old British Weather was the least windy since 1961!
Historically the County of Yorkshire has played a major part in the UK’s energy generation; coal mines and North Sea Gas etc; moving forward Yorkshire has developed & evolved its strengths again to drive the UK’s renewable energy solutions.
If we all play are part by taking small steps to reduce our energy consumption, these small steps help to reduce one giant carbon footprint!
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