Archive for October 2013
United Kingdom (UK) is widely associated with the industrial revolution which was a fossil fuel revolution.
Coal fueled the industrial revolution and UK also exported coal. The next cycle in UK’s energy history came with the discoveries and production from the oil and natural gas discoveries in the North Sea in the 1960’s which happened while UK’s indigenous coal production had been in general decline since the late 1920’s.
The oil and natural gas discoveries in the North Sea made UK again a net energy exporter for some years during the 1980’s and from the middle of the 1990’s through 2004, refer also figures 2, 3 and 4.
Beginning in 2005 UK again became a net importer of energy and as of 2012 UK imported around 42% of its primary energy consumption (primarily fossil fuels). The portion of imported energy for 2013 is expected to grow to 50% and beyond in the near future. Few countries have so rapidly transitioned from being self-sufficient and an energy exporter to develop such a high and growing dependency on imported energy.
The imports of expensive energy increasingly weigh heavier in the UK trade balance, refer also figure 7.
The UK has in recent years experienced a strong growth in energy production from renewables (light green area in figure 1). The recent years general decline in total energy consumption is likely primarily due to the ongoing financial crisis.
Coal’s portion within the UK energy mix declined as it was being replaced by a growing supply of oil and natural gas from the North Sea. The growing supplies from the North Sea may at the time have defined the UK government’s position during the coal miners strikes in 1984 – 1985.
The portion of fossil fuels in the UK’s energy mix has declined from 92% in 2008 to 87% in 2012, mainly due to lower oil and natural gas consumption following the financial crisis and persistent higher oil and natural gas prices.
In 2012 barely 5% of the UK’s energy consumption was from renewables which also includes hydroelectric.