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Where Does Your Energy Come From?

The UK uses around 2% of the entire world’s electricity supply each year – which is quite a lot when you consider we’re actually one of the smallest countries in the developed world. With this in mind we decided to take a look at how our energy is generated and how it is delivered to your home.

Which Fuels Fuel the UK?

First things first, we’ll take a look at the fuel the UK uses to generate its electricity. A massive 57% of the fuels we convert into electricity come from other countries of which almost 17% comes from Asia and the Middle East. This fuel mostly comes in the form of gas and oil or coal. In fact, in the UK 31% of our electricity is generated by burning coal – however, roughly 50% of these power stations will close by 2016.

The UK’s supply of gas from the North Sea is now waning and although there are still an estimated 10-million barrels of oil left we are now switching to an oil import system and billions of pounds have been spent to make this switch. The UK government plans for 25% of our energy to be produced by nuclear power by the year 2025 and the first of a new series of power stations has now been approved at Hinkley Point and should be running by 2018. Currently just 7% of the UK’s energy is provided by green or renewable sources but recent EU legislation has decreed that at least 30% of our electricity needs to be generated by eco-friendly technology.

How Is Fuel Turned Into Energy?

The main process for most power stations is actually the same regardless of the actual fuel that is used. Whichever fuel is used the process is to burn that fuel in order to create heat which is then used to turn water into steam. In the case of nuclear stations the process is a little more complicated as you don’t actually burn nuclear materials – instead this material is used to create a nuclear reaction by splitting atoms, however once this is complete the heat is used in the same way. Once the water is turned into steam it is then used to drive a turbine.

A turbine is essentially several wires coiled around a central magnet. The steam is used to push the wires around the magnet at incredible speeds – and this is what actually generates electricity. Once this electricity has been generated it is then a simple case of pushing the electricity around the country using power cables, depots and relay stations – and eventually to your home electricity meter and power supply.

Conclusions

As you can see, energy, specifically electricity, is generated from several sources but sadly most of these sources come from outside the UK which is dangerous – if our supply lines were cut (perhaps through a political falling out with Russia for example) then the UK could become energy-poor in a matter of days. Coupled with this almost all of our power comes from non-renewable sources which means that environmentally speaking we’re doing the world, our world, a huge disservice. It’s time the UK took a more forward looking approach to energy generation – sure, we’ll all be dead in a 100 years – but our children’s children will be alive – and they will most likely be the ones who pay the price for today’s lackadaisical attitude to energy production. And in fact – in the short term we’ve really messed up – buying our gas and electricity from other countries is a main reason why our bills are so high. This doesn’t really help you compare gas and electricity performance but that’s an article for another day. What we’re saying today is simple – UK Government – it’s time to start REALLY looking at the future, not just the future of your own wallets.

I am a copywriter and poet with a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Creative Writing. I have worked in various marketing & creative roles since 2001. My aim is to publish at least one novel before I die – so far I have had 2 poems published internationally in print as well as some online. In my professional capacity I currently work for an advertising agency in London.

Richard Potter

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