A month or two ago we read an article that suggested Europe’s energy sector has reached a “watershed moment” and predicted that more cost-effective, and of course environmentally friendly, green energy will spell the death of carbon driven energy production within the next decade.
Another article that we saw earlier this year celebrated the fact that the UK’s green energy capacity had increased threefold in the past five years, while fossil fuels had fallen by a third. The UK’s green energy capacity, produced by wind, solar, biomass and hydropower, had exceeded that resulting from coal, gas and oil fired power stations for the first time in more than a century.
That landmark wasn’t reached by accident. And that change did come about overnight. The UK has been trying to wean itself off fossil fuels in particular for decades.
Last year nearly one third of the UK’s energy came from renewable sources, with just under a quarter coming from nuclear plants and 41% from gas fired power stations (weaning the UK off off gas is among the next big challenges). Incredibly, only around 1% was generated by coal fuelled power stations.
In the 1920s an estimated one million British workers were employed in the coal industry; a figure that fell to just 2,000 by 2015. Yet the European coal industry still employs 185,000 people according to trade body Eurocoal.
Today the UK can proudly boast a greater offshore wind capacity than any other country on the planet, with more than 2,000 turbines, and as of this year, the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
Hornsea One, a soon to be completed wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, covers an area five times the size of the city of Hull and will power one million homes. Each wind turbine is taller than London’s iconic Gherkin building. The next generation may be taller than the tallest building in Europe, the Shard.
So, how does this affect you? If you haven’t already done so, you may want to think about switching to one of a growing number of green energy suppliers at home – companies which supply most, if not all, of their electricity from renewable sources. Some will also use ‘green’ or at least carbon-balanced gas – better than nothing in the short-medium term.
See our A – Z guide to ethical companies for recommendations.
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