Increased use of coal for electricity generation undermines UK effort to fight global warming
Thursday 30 June 2011
Britain's electricity generators have been beefing up their use of coal and turning their back on more carbon-friendly gas, in moves that undermine government efforts to fight global warming.
The "big six" energy companies, which include British Gas parent group Centrica, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and RWE npower, are already under fire for allegedly overcharging customers.
The Decc figures also show the total amount of electricity generated by wind and other renewable sources over the 12 months of 2010 was 25,734 gigawatts – only 2.2% up on the year before.
Renewable energy accounted for 3.3% of total UK energy consumption, an increase of only 0.3 percentage points over 2009, although its contribution to electricity output rose from 6.7% to 7%.
There was also a worrying picture for Britain's balance of payments, with domestic production of oil and gas from the North Sea falling heavily. Oil output was down 15.5% in the first quarter of 2011 on the same period in 2010, while imports of oil and oil products shot up fourfold, to 4m tonnes.
Total indigenous production of natural gas fell in the first three months of 2011 by nearly 18% and while exports were nearly 12.5% lower, imports were down 1.5% too.
The power companies have been benefiting from local coal production, however, with the small but active number of British facilities recording a 31% increase in output in the first quarter. Deep-mined coal – as opposed to surface-mined – showed an 80% increase, as coal stocks were depleted due to demand from the utilities.
Power companies are meant to be trying to reduce their use of more carbon-intensive fuels but are understood to be switching away from gas because of a surge in prices.(sourced Guardian)