This paper is a review of some current literature on solar energy and the current situation in the UK. It establishes the scope for using solar power based technologies in the UK, the advantages and issue arising from adopting them, and gives a brief overview of some latest developments. …
The paper tells that the solar energy is an alternative for the more widespread fossil fuel based energy sources such as oil, gas and coal. The UK possesses 0.3% of global oil reserves. A peak for oil production in the UK occurred in 1999, and by 2010, this tailed off by 54%. There are indications however, that there could be an estimated 25 billion barrels of oil remaining in British waters. Tapping into these reserves however, would require a capital expenditure of around £60 billion so it would be very costly. As of 2010, oil production in the UK was 63 million tonnes, estimated reserves stood at 751 million tonnes, which was a decrease of 18 million tonnes from the previous year. Gas production in the same year was 55 bcm and reserves stood at 253 bcm, which was 3 bcm less than the previous year. The situation for natural gas in the UK is therefore similar. There was a sharp decline in UK gas reserves from 0.74 trillion cubic meters in 2000 to 0.66 trillion cubic meters in 2001 and by the year 2010, the gas reserves were as low as 0.25 trillion cubic meters. Also, as the production of gas in the UK is 57.1 billion cubic meters whereas the requirement is for 93.8 billion cubic meters, 39% of the UK's gas supply requirements is met by import. Oil reserves are also diminishing globally. The official OPEC's claim of an estimated 1.150 billion barrels is exaggerated and the actual reserves are believed to be between 850 billion and 1.35 billion barrels. (Telegraph, 2010). Moreover, it is believed that the demand could outstrip the supply by 2014. In fact, natural reserves are decreasing for both oil and gas while at the same time, there is a rising global demand for coal and oil. For the UK, Busby (2010) suggests greater use should be made of bio-diesel, landfill gas, and geophysical energy sources such as wind energy and hydropower. However, there is a problem in that deriving energy from the wind, rain and Sun is not as reliable as using pumped storage systems. Regardless, wind and solar powered technologies are promising. Wind energy for example, could meet up to 20% of the national energy requirements (Busby, 2010). As of July 2011, the UK government has now decided to promote the use of low-carbon forms of energy as part of its reformation strategy through providing incentives such as Fee-in-Tariffs for solar PV, Renewable Heating for wind and nuclear power and through establishing an emission performance standard (Envirolink, 2011). In its Energy White Paper 2011, the government set out its objectives (SSE, 2011). These included providing additional revenues to existing low carbon production efforts, making future investments in low carbon generation, and shutting down older less efficient plants. In its publication titled 'Carbon Footprint of Electricity Generation', the government recognised that increasing energy needs and controlling environmental impact are the two biggest challenges for the UK energy sector (POST, 2011). Solar power can meet the need for reducing the UK's carbon footprint because the environmental impact of its use is much less than of coal and other fossil fuels. In fact, all fossil fuelled technologies, such as oil, gas and coal, have the largest carbon footprints whereas non-fossil fuel based technologies such as solar, wind, tidal, hydro, biomass and nuclear are ...
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