Strategies to Meet Energy Demands in the UK
Disclaimer: This dissertation has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional dissertation writers. You can view samples of our professional work here.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.
The question of how Britain will be able to meet its energy demand in the next 10 - 10 years is a matter of concern for the British Government. With aging nuclear plants, replacing these with cleaner and more energy efficiency plants is going to be a challenge. This dissertation aims to investigate the government's proposals to construct a new generation of nuclear plants and rely more on renewable technologies, whilst meeting the energy demand in next 10 - 20 years and cutting C02 emissions.
- If Government proposals for new nuclear plants and renewable technologies will be able to meet Britain's energy demands
- Is the current proposals the only answer
- Can they meet their targets of cutting C02 emissions whilst meeting demand
- Will they be able to construct the nuclear plants on time
- Have all issues been addressed, such as safety concerns when considering constructing the nuclear plant.
- Should renewables have a bigger contribution
The British Government have been concerned with the gap of meeting the British demand in the next 10 - 20 years. With aging nuclear plants and questions surrounding what is going replace these, and the commitment of meeting targets to cut C02 emissions.
The government has proposed to build a new generation of nuclear power stations and rely more on renewable energy to meet these demands. The conversational decision on this issue has raised further questions on whether this will be enough to make sure Britain does not suffer power black outs in the medium term. Experts in the nuclear sector have also questioned the proposals in terms of are these nuclear plants going to be build on time, who is going to pay for these plants and will the design be right to avoid any health and safety issues.
Other plans that the government proposes includes relying more on renewable energy to meet demand. Heavy investment will be needed to meet this target and it remains to seen if this will be enough to meet the demand.
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 World Energy Demands
Energy is fundamental in how we all lead our lives. As the years goes by and the higher the world population grows, this means that global demand for energy can only increase. The UN has predicted that as of 2005, 6.5 billion made up the worlds population, and this could grow up to 9.1 billion within 45 years (Asif and Muneer 2007). If the world's population reaches this figure, then the world is going to face a challenge to meet the energy needs of all of these people, especially with the emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil.
2.2 Energy Usage
We use energy in all ways of life and we use them in a number of ways.
Areas that energy is used includes
Buildings consume over 60% (International Energy Outlook, 2009) of energy produced around the world. Buildings are split into domestic householders and commercial buildings.
Domestic buildings usage includes space heating, lighting, air conditioning, ventilation, and general electrical appliances. The volume of the property will determine its final energy consumption. The bigger the property, the more heating and lighting it will need to make it into comfortable surroundings. For residential buildings, the physical size of the structures is one key indicator of the amount of energy used by their occupants (International Energy Outlook)
Commercial buildings can include offices and government buildings such as schools and hospitals. Commercial buildings are of a similar nature to domestic buildings, but will be to a much bigger scale. For example, an office could consist of a dozens or even hundreds of computers, compared to maybe one in a domestic house.
- Industry consumption uses around 29% (International Energy Outlook) of the total energy produced around the world. Industry energy usage includes manufacturing metals, chemicals, materials and agriculture. The industry uses the energy it receives to operate manufacturing assembly lines, processing, space heating and lighting.
Transport uses the vast majority of oil that is consumed around the world. Transport energy accounts for cars, trains, planes and lorries. In comparison with the other energy sectors, the transport is largely constricted to oil and cannot operate with the other fuel options. In IEA (International Energy Agency) countries, the transport sector is taking an increasing share of oil demand (Taylor)
2.3 Threats to World Energy Supply
As the demand for energy grows, the threat of not producing this energy increases.
2.3.1 Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels currently produce the majority of our energy needs and take many forms. Developed countries use oil, gas and coal and all of this fossil fuel usage heavily contributes to climate change because of the C02 emissions that they produce. Developing countries will use firewood etc and in comparison to the developed countries, the developing countries will produce alot less C02 because of their methods of producing energy. As well as the effects of the fossil fuels, the fuel reserves will decrease as the years and decades go on, particular since the demands for fuels will only rise. The security of getting these fuels is also a concern because of the political divides in the Middle East, where the biggest oil fields are. The political differences between the EU and Russia are also a concern because Russia is biggest exporter to the EU. The energy policies of Britain and France take these threats into account and are putting in place measures to reduce the threat. The threats that Britain and France predict is the increasing importation of these fuels, at the same time as demand goes up and the political strains increase. Our increasing reliance on imports of oil and gas in a world where energy demand is rising and energy is becoming more politicised (Meeting the energy challenge, 2007).
Out of all of the fossil fuels, oil is the most precious and scarce. It is the primary source that we use to power our transportation system, to produce energy and used to make many different types of products. The world's energy demand is expected to grow by 45% in the next 20 years; therefore, the demand for oil is expected to rise by 26% over the same period. Even if we do maintain the optimum amount of oil production over the next 20 years, it is very unlikely that the energy demands will be meet by oil.
The issue of the oil peak production and its decline is much debated and opinions vary from a number of sources. One thing that is certain is that oil is not a re-newable fuel and as demands for energy increases year by year, production for oil will increase and this will deplete oil reserves more quickly.
The steady growth of spot oil price exploded suddenly in the second halve of 2007: in only twelve months, the price of oil nearly double - from $74/barrel on July 2007 to $147.27/barrel on July 2008 (Matutinovic, 2008.)
This was a huge hike in a short space of time, caused by the demand from China and India, together with unrest in the Middle - East were the main reasons. This increase in price however was short lived and to the present day is back to a manageable price. However, in the future the price will increase and stay there due to a number of factors.
- Energy demand going up, meaning that supply and demand will be squeezed.
- The political unrest in unstable regions where the largest oil reserves are
As the price of oil increases, so will the price of energy and we this may become uncontrollable over the long term.
Security of Oil
As mentioned before, the majority of oil reserves are contained within unstable regions or countries and countries that have political issues with the most developed countries. This includes the Middle East, which holds the most of the oil reserves and is almost always unstable. As the developed countries own oil reserves decrease, the importation of oil will increase from these regions and if the regions were to decline further, this may affect security of supply of the energy needs of these countries. The most important implication of such distribution of proven oil reserves is that future oil increasingly dependence on politically instable Middle East (Matutinovic)
In the past natural gas was not used globally to produce energy and by domestic householders. It is becoming increasingly important to meet energy demands around and in particular, the EU region. As with the issues with oil, gas reserves in the European Union and USA regions are dwindling and these regions are fast becoming increasily reliant on Russia and Middle East for their supplies. The UK in particular as a large proportion of its power produced by gas power stations and this has been addressed within their energy policy of the intention to decrease the importation of gas in the long term. However, in the short - medium term it is anticipated that Europe's dependence on gas will go from 36% up to in 69% (Weisser H, 2005) even with the issue of climate change, as natural gas is less pollutant than coal and oil. Looking at Russia, by far the biggest supplier, for analysing the security of supply equation one has to account for the fact that this country's energy policy is not only determined by economic interest but a least equally by geopolitical, foreign policy and security consideration (Weisser).
The country with the most natural gas reserves is Russia. As each year goes by, the EU will have to import gas from Russia more and more. The political relationships between Europe and Russia are not the best. This was brought about by the dispute between Russia and the Ukraine over the gas supply. This in turn reduced the supply to Europe, as the pipe goes through the Ukraine to supply Europe. This brought tensions between the EU and Russia, since then Russia has threatened the supply to Europe and dramatic price increases. Apart from the Russia, the Middle East is the second biggest exporter and like oil, is vulrable to political unrest and this may affect supplies to their customers.
Gazprom is the biggest gas provider in Russia and world. With demand for gas going to increase in the coming years, this will give the power to increase prices to the EU and other regions. If this were to happen, this would lead to higher costs for the UK to produce power and this would lead to higher power costs for domestic householders. The price of gas will also have to increase to fund investments to find new gas fields and pipes that transport the gas. The main reason for dual gas pricing has been to provide a gas subsidy to the Russian economy. (Spanjer A, 2007)
Coal was the first significant fossil fuel to be used by humans and was the spearhead for the industrial revolution. It is used by both developed and developing due to its availability and value
Developing countries use 55% of the world consumption of coal, which includes China and India. It is predicted that this is going to rise to over 65% in the morelonger term. The availability of coal is vast, which is the primary reason why it is used so much. It is found all over world, including vast reserves in the UK. It is predicted that if the current trend of excavating coal were to continue, it may take up to a few hundred years to exhaust the earths supply. As the coal reserves are spread all over the world, this gives an advantage to the other fossil fuels of providing a greater security of supply. Because of the inevitable decline in world reserves of petroleum and natural gas and rising demand for energy, coal is a major alternative along with nuclear power to meet these meets. (Yilmaz A O, Uslu T, The role of coal in energy production - Consumption and sustainable development of Turkey, Energy Policy 35, 1117 - 1128, page 1, 2007)
In the future, it is anticipated that cleaner coal power stations are to be constructed as coal is seen as a fuel that will meet the energy demand for the medium term. This is seen as a way of meeting the energy demands because of the reserves of coal offering a much higher security of coal, but also a way to reduce the emissions that coal gives off when used to produce energy.
2.4 Climate Change
The issues that are associated with climate change go back over one hundred years when scientists were discovering that greenhouse gases were interfering with the atmosphere. Over the course of history to this present day, the understanding of climate change has jumped dramatically over the past 10 years and scientists are beginning to see the potential effects that may have on the earth if we do not tackle the roots of the problem.
2.4.1 Energy Production
Energy production accounts for the vast majority of the green house gases that is produced. Energy accounts for over 80% of the global anthropogenic GHG's (Quadrelli R, The energy-climate challenge: Recent trends in CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, IEA, Elsevier, page 2, 2007). These green house gases are a direct result from using fossil fuels in producing energy. The world energy supply is still very much dependant on fossil fuels to produce the energy needs for the world population, even with the growth of renewable energy. As stated before, the worlds energy demand is expected to grow significantly over the next 20 - 30 years as a direct consequence of a rising world population and the rapid development of China and India.
2.4.2 C02 Emissions
All fossil fuels contribute to green house gases, some more than others however. Coal is the biggest contributor of C02 emissions and this will just increase as coal becomes more popular, especially with China and India. An Energy production accounts for the vast majority of the green house gases that is produced. Energy accounts for over 80% of the global anthropogenic GHG's (Quadrelli R, The energy-climate challenge: Recent trends in CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, IEA, Elsevier, page 2, 2007). These green house gases are a direct result from using fossil fuels in producing energy. The world energy supply is still very much dependant on fossil fuels to produce the energy needs for the world population, even with the growth of renewable energy. As stated before, the worlds energy demand is expected to grow significantly over the next 20 - 30 years as a direct consequence of a rising world population and the rapid development of China and India.
2.4.2 C02 Emissions
All fossil fuels contribute to green house gases, some more than others however. Coal is the biggest contributor of C02 emissions and this will just increase as coal becomes more popular, especially with China and India. An increase of C02 emissions in the last 35 - 40 years has been substantial and the total amount of C02 emissions due to burning of fossil fuels reaches to about 26 billion tons. (Saito S, Role of Nuclear Energy to Future Society of Shortage of Energy Resources and Global Warming, Journal of Nuclear Materials, Elsevier, 2009). These countries will have to find a guaranteed supply and this fuel will become cheaper than oil and gas over the longer term. These countries will have to look to coal to meet its energy demands for its growing population. If the projections are correct, coal will become more popular amongst the developed nations. This will increase green house gases and that is with the policy of constructing clean coal power stations. The oil and gas sectors will still have a very important part to play in the long term, but it is projected that dependence on these fuels will decrease slowly as the price goes up and the security of supply is not guaranteed.
2.4.3 Biggest C02 Producers
The biggest polluters seem are the countries with the biggest economic development, the rapid development of some countries meaning a higher energy demand and the countries population. The United States was the biggest polluter due to its economic power and industrial size. However, as China has grown rapidly, this has pushed it to become the worlds biggest polluter. This is because China has seen significant economic growth and has required it to increase its energy production to meet its industrial growth.
2.4.4 Affects of Climate Change
The affects of climate change will be catastrophic if the current trend of C02 emissions continues. Climate Change threatens the basic elements of life for people around the world - access to water, food production, health and use of land and the environment (THE STERN REPORT, Executive Summary (Long), page 6, 2006).
- Rise in sea levels
The affect of the earth heating up will mean the two polar ice caps melting, making the global sea levels rising. This will mean that countries or regions with a low altitude could mean land being lost. Global sea rises will mean millions of people being displaced and having to find alternative areas to live.
- Vegetation areas
These areas could change the whole global landscape, in terms of the areas where crops could be grown. This could mean areas where crops are grown just now, will not able to grow in the future and this again may displace millions of people, especially in the more developing regions such as Africa.
- Weather systems
There is current evidence that the weather pattern is already changing. The likelihood of this worsening is very real if climate change is not tackled. This includes an increase in category 5 hurricanes, increased flooding and an increase in heat waves due to temperature rises. Temperature rises will also lead to sever forest fires in regions such as Australia and California.
2.5 Financial Implications of Climate Change
As well as the physical implications of climate change, the financial consequences may well be as bad for all countries if climate change is not tackled and heavy investment put in place
2.5.1 STERN REPORT
The STERN report was produced to assess the potential damage that climate change could inflict on economies around the world. The evidence shows that ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth (THE STERN REPORT, Executive Summary (Long), page 2, 2006).
The report consists and focuses on a number of issues
- The affects of climate change on the economies
- The costs of putting in control measures to reduce the affects of climate changes
- The investment needed to change to an infrastructure that omits less C02 emissions
The report highlights the relation of GDP in relation to the increase in temperatures. There seems to be a trend in that for every one degree that the temperature goes up, then 1 per cent of GDP is lost. As well as the GDP, the biggest affect that climate change could have on is the developing countries, particular Africa. The report highlights that the ability to grow crops will reduce and water supplies will decrease dramatically and this will displace millions of people.
The STERN report also points out that investment is now needed to prevent much higher costs being incurred in the longer-term. The report comments that such investment should include the acceleration of cleaner and renewable energy.
2.6 Energy Policies
Energy policies are produced by governments to help them plan their countries energy production for the long term, set targets for cutting C02 emissions and evaluating their methods of producing energy.
2.6.1 Contents of Energy Policies
The contents of energy policies will wholly depend what country it is, how much GDP it produces and how confident they will be in making sure that they can meet their targets
Energy Policies will usually contain the following
- Security of supply
- Evaluation of their current energy production methods
- Methods of making sure that they have sufficient ways in meeting demand
- Outline any new ways in producing their energy
- Ways in which they will tackle climate change
- Their policies of using renewable energy to produce power.
2.7 Renewable Energy Policies
Renewable energy is essential for meeting the commitment to cut C02 emissions, to ensure the world can meet the energy demands, security of supply and eventually leading to cheaper energy in the long term in comparison with fossil fuel produced energy.
Renewable energy technologies have increased dramatically in the last 5 years. Its essential to have renewable energy in a countries energy policy to help meet all these commitments. To the present day, 73 countries are thought to have included a renewable strategy within their policy.
Between 2004 and 2008, over $120 billion of investment has put in place to increase the usage of renewables. Although this investment is substantial, it is predicted that that this type of investment will have to be spent every year to help renewables get to a level to produce energy to a stage where it can compete with coal and gas. While most renewable fuels are free, renewable energy projects have high up-front costs (Sawin J L, National Policy Documents, International Conference for Renewable Energies, page 5, 2004).
Renewable Energy types include
- Solar Power
- Wind Power
- Tidal Power
2.7.1 Wind Power
Out of all of the renewable technologies, wind power is by far the most used around the world. Wind power was the largest addition to renewable energy capacity (Renewables Global Status Report 2009, REN21, page 11, 2009). Wind power comes in two forms either on shore or off shore. Wind power is particularly used throughout the EU due to its climate. Wind power production percentage throughout the EU varies, with Germany being the most productive country within the EU.
2.7.2 Solar Power
At the end of 2007, solar power production accounted for around 0.5% of the power produced. As with the wind power restrictions, solar power is more effective where countries are better situated to get sun on a regular basis. Also as solar power is expensive to build in comparison to the more conventional power stations, this currently makes it unviable to construct until capital costs come down.
2.6.3 Other Renewables
The other options of renweables make up a tiny proportion of energy production, in comparison to the wind and solar. Heavy investment is needed to bring these up to level where they will be seen as a potential energy source as the other options.
2.8 Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power has is fast becoming one of the main sources of power for a few countries within the EU and the USA. Apart from the Western countries, nuclear power is fast becoming the one of the major sources of producing energy. There over 100 hundred power stations currently being built in Asia and alot more are being planned. Nuclear Power alone won't get us where we need to be, but we won't get there without it. (Abu-Khader M M, Recent Advances in Nuclear Power: A Review, Nuclear Energy 51, 225 - 233, Elsevier, 2009)
Nuclear power currently accounts for around for 14 per cent of the power produced around the world. It is expected that this will grow rapidly over the longer term as the worlds most developed countries construct more plants to meet energy demands.
2.8.2 Why Nuclear
Nuclear power has big advantages over the current main sources of power production.
- Security of Supply
Nuclears raw material is more readily available than other fossil fuels. This gives it a more guaranteed security of supply of generating the energy needed. Importing uranium is expensive to import, however it can be stored for several years and makes it less of a concern.
- Price Rises
Nuclear power is less of risk of being the subject to a large price rise. This is because it is cheaper to run the power plant in comparison to gas and coal power stations.
2.14 - Bar Chart Showing Predicted Price Rises for Each Fuel Type
(Adamantiades A, Nuclear Power for Sustainable Development: Status and Future Prospects, Energy Policy 37 5149 - 5166, 2009)
A doubling in the price of Uranium would cause a 5-6% increase in the total cost of generation, while a similar increase in the price of natural gas would lead to 65% increase in gasfired costs. ((Adamantiades A, Kessides I, Nuclear Power for Sustainable Development: Current Status and Prospects, Energy Policy, Elsevier, page 2, 2009).
- Climate Change
As with renewable energy, nuclear plants produce little or no C02 emissions. As the world is becoming increasily concerned with climate change, severe cuts of C02 emissions are being set and nuclear is seen a key player in reducing these emissions.
2.8.3 Safety Concerns
After the tragic accident at Chernobyl, it was understandable that nuclear power got a bad reputation around the world, with some countries even banning it altogether. However, since safety factors in constructing and operating a nuclear plant have improved greatly and the idea of nuclear power is taking off again. During the past two decades, nuclear power plants have also achieved increasingly higher capacity factors with the same or greater levels of safety (Adamantiades A, Kessides I, Nuclear Power for Sustainable Development: Current Status and Prospects, Energy Policy, Elsevier, page 12,2009).
2.15 - Bar Chart Showing Fatalities by Fuel Type
(Adamantiades A, Nuclear Power for Sustainable Development: Status and Future Prospects, Energy Policy 37 5149 - 5166, 2009)
The most obvious risk of operating a nuclear plan is exposing the public to radiation poisoning, with Chernobyl being the best example. Strict measures are now in place to greatly reduce such a tragedy happening again. This includes conducting risk assessments and putting in control measure to reduce the risks.
2.8.4 Nuclear Waste
The debate of nuclear waste was one the biggest obstacles for the new generation nuclear plants being constructed. Although the storage of nuclear is major concern, the technology is in place to manage safely and effectively. In comparison with the waste that fossil fuels produce, it is signifcently less.
My method of research was to use a mixture of both quantitative and quantitative research methods.
3.1 Quantitative and Qualitative Research
The method of using quantitative is and will be limited, in comparison with the other forms of data collection. This has used up to this point for comparing statistics, figures and forecasts. This is based on using journals, government reports and reliable websites being used to gather this information to allow me to compare the above. It will be my intention to continue this form data collection when completing my dissertation
The method of using qualitative will be the form of research that the bulk of dissertation will be based on. This is based on sources from journals, books, government reports, reliable websites, interviews and case studies.
It will be my intention to continue with this form data collection when completing my dissertation.
This form of gathering data has helped me gather the majority of my information. I have gathered peoples' perceptions, thoughts and opinions of this subject. Information gathered was mostly opinions in the form of text, graphs and diagrams.
This has allowed me to focus on the subjects that I need to concentrate to be able to answer my aims and objectives. Information gathered included factual statistics and text.
This form of sourcing of information allowed me to gather some of quantitative and qualitative information. I made sure that these websites were reliable websites and that the information was as accurate. Information gathered included graphs, statistics and text.
My intention is to organise three interviews with three different organisations. This is to allow 3 different opinions based on the subject of my dissertation. This will include getting opinions on people who are involved with the nuclear programme, the renewable sector and an organisation that represents somebody/something for which the nuclear plants or the rapid construction of renewables may have negative consequences.
3.2.1 Initial Contact and Organisations
My initial contact to arrange interviews was via e-mail. I asked them for an interview by introducing myself, the reason for the interview and the topic of my dissertation.
My first contact was Mr David Cameron, of the Scottish Renewables trust. He kindly agreed to an interview in his Glasgow based office and agreed that I would be in touch when I am ready to conduct the interview. My agenda for this interview is to get his views on the developments of the renewables sector, the developments of the nuclear sector and will this be able to meet the energy demand
My second contact was Mr Peter Dobson, of Scottish and Southern Energy who are directly involved with the nuclear program within the UK. My contact with him came about because of the close relationship that my employer and SSE have. My agenda for this interview will be similar to my first contact
My third contact I hope to be the Scottish Wildlife trust. I have still to make contact with this gruop. My agenda for this interview will be to get the developments on both nuclear and renewables development in the UK and how this could affect the British ecosystem.
When it comes to conducting the interview, I will stress the confidentially is the most important issue when conducting this interview and will ask them to make me aware that a particular question can not be answered without their confidentially being breached.
3.2.2 Interview Technique and Agenda
My intension is to make the interview semi-structured. This will allow me to prepare a set of questions that I will ask all three participants, with the possibly of other questions being prepared depending on the organization. By having a semi-structure interview, it will allow me to get the information that I will require, while allowing any other questions or conversations to happen during the interview, as some topics may come to light during the interview.
I shall prepare the questions before the interview takes place and sent the interviewees the prepared question paper and the agenda beforehand.
3.3 Case Studies
It will be my intention to focus on two case studies. One will be in the form of concentrating on one of the chosen nuclear sites. I will give information on the suitability of the site, the energy that will generated, the benefits of having this plant and the health and safety implications of having the plant at this location. The form of collecting data will involve the use of journals, construction information, site location, government reports on this site and information coming from interviews.
My other case study will focus one of a key renewable project that has been constructed in recent times. I will give information on the characteristics of the site, the energy generated, and the contribution of cutting C02 emissions, the benefits of this site and the affects of its surroundings. My data collection will involve the information that get from my employer, who constructed this site. I will also use Government, media information and journals.
4.0 Data Collection
The data collected was a series of interviews that was held with professionals within the energy industry. The style of interviews used was the semi-structure type in both interviews. This was done by this asking a direct question and then depending on their answer I asked a further question to allow an expansion on their initial answer. The interview agenda and questions were the same to give an easy and accurate comparison for both opinions. The interview process was the best way to get the most accurate information on the answer of my dissertation, allowing a thorough analysis of the questions to hand. This is because although a direct question and answer process is the initial way to conduct interviews, by allowing a semi-structure agenda, it allows which me to expand on the answers that the professtionals gave. This happened on a few of the questions and it allowed me to get a more in depth answer if it felt that the explanation was thorough enough.
The people who had agreed to be interviewed were professionals involved within the energy industry, most notably the renewable and nuclear industries. By having an interview from people involved in both of these industries, it allowed thoughts and opinions of both, thus avoiding bias to one type of industry. By conducting the interviews it showed opinions of professtionals within the industry on government policies for both Scotland and England, on whether enough investment is being put in place to help develop renewable and nuclear, if the development nuclear and renewable will grow enough to meet the energy demands and if the nuclear and renewable programmes will constructed in time to meet government deadlines.
The people interviewed were a nuclear technical officer/project manager of Scottish and Southern Energy. He is the leader of the technical group within SSE who is one of the companies involved with the new nuclear build. He has significant experience within the British nuclear industry and he wishes to make it clear that his answers to this interview are his opinions, not the views of SSE. The other person interviewed was Tony Wildale of Morrison Constuction. Tony was the project manager on the Whitelees Whitefarm, Eaglesham. Tony was involved with the construction of Whitelees from start to finish. A request was made to the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Scottish Renewables Trust for an questionnaire to be completed. However, SWT kindly directed me to their energy policy on their website, making it clear that their answers to my questionnaire would be based on that energy policy. SRT also did this, stating that any opinions on the questionnaire would be based on information on their website.
4.1 The View of the Organisations
The view of the organisations gives the opinions and thoughts on the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the The Scottish Renewables Trust on the policies of Scotland and England.
4.1.1 Scottish Renewables Trust
The Scottish Renewables Trust website gives their provides information on opinions on why Scotland needs renewable energy, what is the right mix and the environmental impact of renewable energy.
Scottish Renewables Trust states that Scotland needs this type of energy production because of its obligation to protect the environment whilst producing our energy. Apart from the reasons talked about in this dissertation such as cutting carbon emissions, it says that Scotland has the potential in creating long term employment oppurtunities and should lead the way in creating renewable energy. It also states that Scotland should try to mix the renewable types. This makes the renewable sector able to produce as much energy as possible and that renewables is as much as about lifecycle, not just the costs. However the Scottish Renewable Trust concedes that every type of energy producer has an effect on the environment, be it visually or physically. It states that when planning all types of energy projects, including renewable projects, environment studies should be carried out when planning these.
4.1.2 Scottish Wildlife Trust
The Scottish Wildlife Trust policy is aimed at the issue of energy and the affects it has on the ecosystem in Scotland. The SWT states that some of the energy projects constructed can have devastating affects on habitats and environments. The policy covers direct and indirect effects coming from energy production. Direct impacts includes infrastructure, power stations and renewables. The obvious indirect impact is C02 emissions.
The SWT states that Scotland should try to develop an energy infrastructure which is able to minimise C02 emissions, whilst protecting ecosystems. SWT opinion is that these issues should be the main priorties for the Scottish government and other countries whilst considering Scottish energy projects. The organisation believes that Scotland should be developing an energy infrastructure that includes renewable energy and reducing energy demand. It states that Scotland should be gearing towards becoming a top energy producer using renewables and thus convincing other countries to follow suit. SWT does state that energy demand will be become high, therefore measures should be taken to tackle this including placing windfarms close to high demand areas and possibly importing energy from other parts of the UK.
The group states in it's policy that it fully supports the SNP decision to rule out new nuclear plants. It believes that no other plants of this nature should be constructed here because of the other energy technologies available, which SWT says have less effect on the environment.
The group does support wind energy, but it says it should be in areas only where it does not affect wildlife or ecosystems and placing the farms close to high populated areas. SWT believes Scotland should be investing in off-shore windfarms, because they can produce significantly more than on-shore, but as well as limiting environment damage.
4.1 The View of the Professionals
The first question asked of both interviewees was a general view on the adopted approaches for both Scotland and England. The question was ‘Why do you think Scotland and England have adopted a different approach to energy policy'. The answers given by the interviewees weere broadly along the same lines, based on two reasons. The SSE project manager stated that Scotland has a devolved government in the SNP which wants to differ itself from the labour UK government. The Morrison Project Manager more or less gave the exact same answer that the governments have completely different policies and do not agree with the policies of the labour government. This reason gives confirmation that the reason of different approaches is down to two different parties of each country not agreeing to one another's policies. The other reason given by both interviewees was the fact that Scotland's resources and needs are different to that of England's. Both the Morrison Project Manager and SSE Project Manager recognise the fact that Scotland has a lot more potential In making use of the resources it has in using renewables. The responses from the two professionals makes it clear that the two policies could be based on the political agendas and the dependence of the resources at hand.
The second question asked related to whether they thought a devolved approach was the best way to achieve energy security in Britain'. Both professionals gave complete opposite answers, with the Morrison Project Manager saying yes and the SSE Project Manager saying no. The Morrison Project Manager gave an interesting response in that he views that the SNP should be looking to ensure the energy demand for Scotland, whilst protecting the environment. Peter view is that Scotland do not have the necessary experience to be able to go and make long term and important decisions. These views give an interesting reading within the industry on their opinions on the political decisions. This shows that although Scotland should always consider their own needs for their own energy needs and environment, some people may view that more communication with the UK government may have been wise due their experience in making such decisions.
The third question asked was concerned with ‘Scotland's decision to rule out Nuclear being at odds with England and whether they thought it was a realistic goal'. Again there were opposing views, similar to the question before. The SSE Project Manager gave a yes answer, however this was based on the fact of the growth of re-newables being sustained. He then added that Scotland could have followed England's lead by considering all of the issues when considering the main energy production, including security of supply and reliability, not just whether it was harmful to the environment or not. The project manager stated that he didn't think that this was the case. He then added that the priority was making sure that you have a secure supply of power by ensuring that a good mixture of energy types were used, including coal, gas, nuclear and renewables. He then mentioned than not one energy type has one advantage over the other and that all of the methods of energy production have their advantages and disadvantages. This seems to indicate than opinions within the industry are divided, although the interviewees did not seem to be bias towards their sector of power. It seems amongst the professtionals that a steady growth of renewables is needed, although the correct mixture of energy types should be used for the foreseeable future to ensure that Scotland has a guaranteed supply, but enabling the country to cut C02 emissions.
The fourth question starts to examine the more specific aspects of Scotland's energy policy. It asks ‘Can Scotland achieve security of supply using renewables'. The two organisations questioned the Scottish Renewables Trust and the Scottish Wildlife Trust indicated that this could be achieved. SRT states the labour expertise and resources that Scotland has to offer is enough to make Scotland to be heavily reliant on renewable technology because of the climate we have. SWT believes that this can be achieved, but only with substantial reduction and consumption to not only cut the C02 emissions, but to protect the habitats of the wildlife of Scotland. The SSE Project Manager comments that this could be possible, but only in the longer term. He states that Scotland must focus on developing the renewables, but continue to use the conventional types such as gas and coal. He also says that we must up-grade all the infrastructure such as the national grid. The Morrison Project Manager did not think this be possible for at least the next 20 years at least, until the capability of the turbines being about to produce double or treble amount of Mw that currently produce. He mentions the fact that for the shorter term, renewables should only be considered a back up to gas and coal. The opinion to this question varies, with the two groups stating the fact that this is definitely possible and should be pursued. They say this for more or less the same reasons, except for WFT who give the opinion that this should be done to protect wildlife. Although the two professionals state slightly different answers, they both say the same things that the possibility of renewables becoming a main energy source is something that is only realistic in the much longer term and must consider using conventional energy fuels to guarantee supply.
The fifth question asks if the nuclear option is a preferred one to that of the clean gas or coal. The SWT makes it clear it that it totally rejects the idea of nuclear being a ideal option to the other resources of cleaner coal or gas. However, alongside this statement it states that until this carried out, it wholly rejects the other options of coal or gas, unless cleaner or capture technology is used to make coal or gas less damaging to the environment. The SWT group states the reasons for rejecting the nuclear option, highlighting impacts that the group thinks harms the environment including the mining of uranium, the leftovers of radioactive material and water abstraction. The Morrison Project Manager thinks that the nuclear is a more effective option than clean coal or gas power stations. He points out that the nuclear option is more effective than the other sources because of the financial comparison against coal or gas. He recognises that the issues of high capital costs, the waste produced and the decommissioning, but thinks that the technology is likely to be much improved in dealing with waste and the decommissioning process. He also adds that although the cleaner solution may cut C02 emissions, it will be valuable to high fuel costs caused by the threat of high importation costs from Russia and the Middle East due to ongoing disputes over political agendas. The SSE project manager thinks that preferably, the nuclear option should be the first choice in front of cleaner fuel sources until costs and programme have been proven. He adds that the nuclear is unpreferable because of the uncertainty of the investment needed from private energy companies, possibly contributing to the uncertainty of a profitable return for their investment. The SWT opinion shows their total rejection against nuclear because of the potential effects on the environment surrounding it.
Although the SSE project Manager does not fully support, this is for totally different reasons. He will probably realise of the harmful affects on the environment caused by nuclear, however the reasons given are far different to the WFT reasons. He points that uncertainty in costs and time can make nuclear unpredictable and should be treated with caution. The reasons given the Morrison project manager are good points that the nuclear option is more cost effective over the longer term and that although the cleaner options are a good option in cutting C02 emissions, the fuels are still subject to high costs. The response that comes from the two interviewees is quite surprising with the SSE project manager not fully supporting nuclear and the Morrison project manager favouring it over the other options, considering the sectors each of them work in.
The sixth question put forward was ‘Should Scotland ‘sell' its renewable energy commodity to England'? Although The SWT group doesn't specifically say anything about selling energy to England or any other of Scotland's UK neighours. It does state within Scotland's energy portfolio that they should be looking to import energy from England and Northern Ireland through the national grid, because of the chance a non-continueous energy supply caused by using renewbles. The Nuclear officer that there is no reason not to. He did add however state that this only be pursued once the technology and infrastructure are in place. He was unwilling to give an exact period of time when this be possible, however he did state that there would be a greater chance once the technology is available for turbines to produce more megawatts of energy and once a lot more windfarms have been constructed. The Morrison manager did give a more forthcoming yes to this question, although gave a the same type of cautionary reasons of only doing this once we are producing sur-plus energy and once the infrastructure are in place. The opinions are depending on their priorities, as the WTF are more interested in the prospect in being able to give Scotland a regular energy supply and protecting the environment, as opposed to the two professtionals who see the prospects of financial incentives of producing sur-plus energy.
The seventh question then goes on to concentrate the English energy policy and the actual nuclear build programme. It starts by asking the interviewees do they think that the best option is to build these new generation of new nuclear plants. The Whitelees Windfarm Project Manager states that he does think that this the best option, however the nuclear plants must be built on time and on the existing sites for them to be truly affective. He also adds that the planning system be looked at as this could be a potential threat to delaying the plants. He points out that although he thinks this is the best option, it must be used with a mixture of the other types. The SSE officer replies that this could be the potential option, but only as part of a mixture of the other sources. He reckons that nuclear has to be part of a generation mix for the medium term, however as the nuclear technology grows it will have a greater chance of becoming the major contributor in producing England's energy. The Greenpeace group states that nuclear isn't the answer in tackling the issue of climate change, as they reckon that nuclear may only cut greenhouse gases by 4 per cent. They point out that it will create more hazardous waste and cut investment that could be spend on technology that would cut C02 emissions by a lot more. The two interviewes responses were along the same lines, by commenting that although the nuclear option is potentially the best option, it should only be used as part of a mixture for the shorter term and therefore may lead it to becoming the main producer. The Greenpeace is different to that of the professionals, by simply saying that it should be ruled out completely and the investment being spent in other areas of energy.
The second of question seven asks can the construction of these new nuclear plants be delivered on time? The SSE project manager comments that this is not guaranteed and will require the best procurement and supply to help develop the design and construction of the plants. He also adds that planning maybe a real threat as nuclear is a totally different building to others, and he insists that this process can take years to reach planning consent. The Morrison employee responsed slightly different to what the SSE employee said. He thinks that it may take a great effort to complete all of the plants on time, since it is a new plant design and whether the investment will be in place. He did add that it maybe possible to get a few of the plants operating in the next ten years. These responses give an interesting insight, especially since the SSE technical officer is actually involved in the programme and even he is unsure of the capability of completely these plants on time. The Morrison project manager also gives valid reasons which could threaten the programme of the new design and the investment being in place.
Question three within section 7, was what do they see as the main threats or risks in building nuclear power stations? The Whitelees project manager responded by saying that the risk to the environment will be minimal since the most of the plants will be constructed on the exsiting nuclear sites. He did add that the subject of waste creates a real risk as this can be very harmful to the environment and life. He adds that the companies involved along with the government should have a crediable strategy in place to deal with the waste created. In terms of building the plants themselves, he thinks that because of the new design, this makes more complex to build and the potential problem of skill shortages in constructing the plants. The nuclear officer's response is along the same lines of the opposing in that he sees waste and decommissioning as the main risks due to the long timescales and the political situation. He was then asked if he sees the labour or skills market being a problem and he pointed that creating nuclear engineers is not as hard as everybody makes out it to be if the correct graduate scheme and the process is correct. He did add that the general construction skills maybe a problem, though less than previously though due to the recession. The responses given are the most obvious and as to be expected. The issues that the two interviewees is the risk of waste. The Morrison professtional did add that a management plan should be place before commencing with the plants. Both of men reckon that there is a small chance of the threat of not being able to build the plants due to the skill shortages, although they both seemed unconcerned about this to much. The answers given to this question were mirrored by both professtionals and are the well known risks.
The last question within 7 was ‘Can England secure a substainable energy without nuclear'? The Morrison employee answered this by stating it wasn't possible to have a substainable energy policy without the new generation of nuclear. His reasons he gave for this was that the current nuclear sites are being closed in the near future and need to be replaced. He did add to these comments as he had mentioned previously that a mixture of the other sources should be substained for the 10 years to make sure we have a guaranteed supply. The SSE employee responsed that he thinks England could achieve this without nuclear, adding the model in Scotland should be looked at. His reasons for this is the risks associated with nuclear including the costs, time and the environmental issues. As with other responses with the other questions, the reply from the nuclear officer is quite surprising since he is involved in the process and would imagine that he would promote the nuclear option. This is in stark contrast to the windfarm manager, who believes the only answer is the nuclear option to help England achieve a sustainable energy policy.
Question eight in the interview agenda asks if England should look to put more investment into re-newbles and what type. The nuclear project manager replies that the English should try to invest more into the wave and tidal types of renewable energy. He was then asked if this could be done as the same approach as the nuclear programme. He pointed that this would be possible, however the nuclear approach is high risk with regards to finance, procurement etc. He states that this approach means that investment will be uncertain with private companies, as they will want to make sure that they get a profitable return to their investment in energy infrastructure. The Morrison project stated that there is investment in major renewable projects, such as the Thames Estuary and Severn Barrage. He thinks that this would be more appropriate than wind farms as Scotland as the resources to make use of windfarms more. Both responses state that there should be investment and we are starting to see that, however they both wanted to point out that England should be concentrating on constructing renewables more suited to the resources that they have. This also points in the direction that professtionals in the industry see renewables as being a vital part of our energy production as this pointed out the question regarding renewables in Scotland.
The last section of the interview asked what should a sustainable energy policy should consist of and should be UK wide or devolved? The Whitelees project manager pointed out that he had stated in question previously by saying that any energy policy should be focused on delivering a security of supply by having a mixture of all energy sources for the more shorter term and should rule any type out just yet. The SSE officer stated a policy should be place to guanrantee a supply, support investment in renewables in cutting C02 emissions and reduce dependency in fossil fuels. Both replies to this question seems to indicate that the energy professtionals want the government to priortise in making sure that Scotland and England are able to guarantee a supply to the general public. This is closely followed by reducing C02 emissions and other concerns, however the overall picture seems to go in the direction that both governments should be focusing in all areas, not just concentrating on meeting targets to cut C02 emissions. The response from both professtionals regarding should the any policy be UK wide was given a yes from both of them. They commented that this would have been more benefitcal for sharing ideas, however the reality is that the political clashes will always over shadow the possiablity of this happening.
4.0 New Nuclear
Nuclear has had a renewed interest in the UK, excluding Scotland over the past few years. It was only in 2003 that the British government were very negative on the idea of constructing new nuclear plants. The renewed interest came about in 2006 when it was reconisged that Britain had threats of not securing their security of supply and increased demand. Another major element for this decision was the commitments made to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.
4.1 Current Plants
Britain produces its energy from a mixture of gas, coal and nuclear plants, as well as the renewable sources. The main factor for the new nuclear programme is that the current fleet of nuclear reactors are due to be decommissioned by 2023, with the exception of one.
4.2 New Nuclear Plants
England and Wales have plans in place to build up to 10 new nuclear plants in the next 15 years, with the first one being operational by 2017. The first of these that are likely to be operational is the Hinkley Plant in Somerset. This is a consortium of EDF and British Energy. The other plants are likely to be operational by 2019 and 2020.
4.3 Design Process
In 2007/2008 four designs of nuclear plants were put forward by four companies. This included Westinghouse, Areva, GEH and AECL. GEH and AECL eventually withdrew from the process, leaving the Westinghouse AP100 and Areva EPR GDA currently being reviewed by the HSE and the environmental agency.
- 1GWe simplified passive PWR derived from CE & Westinghouse designs with over 100 reactors in US, Europe & Far East;
- Cycle efficiency - 33%;
- Capacity factor - 90% based on PWR family record;
- Design life - 60 years;
- Construction cycle - 36 months;
- US NRC design certificated;
- Selected by US utilities for NuStart applications made for site licences.
- 1600 MWe light water reactor evolved from proven French N4 & German Konvoi designs;
- Cycle efficiency - 36%;
- Capacity factor - 92% improving on N4 record;
- Design life - 60 years;
- 42 month construction cycle:
- Designed to EU safety standards;
- Being built at Olkiluoto in Finland & Flamville in France.
The HSE and the environmental agency (the nuclear regulators) have been tasked to carry out a process known as the Generic Design Assessment. This is carried out to determine wheather the designs are suitable to be built. The examination is carried out to make sure that the design is satisfactory in terms of the construction of the new plants, safety during operation and decommissioning. These assessments are very complex and will take a long time to determine their suitability of constructing the plants. Each GDA will cost up to £10m and take some 3.5 years in total (World Nuclear Association)
As well as the GDA assessments, a new planning procedure as been put in place by the government to assist in speeding up the process of construction of not only the new nuclear plants, but also the large re-newables projects. It has been recongised by the government themselves that planning was proving a major sticking point and this new procedure as put in place to reduce this. The planning system was seen to be a major hurdle, or barrier, to the implementation of a new policy of nuclear build is undeniable. (Geeenhaigh & Azapagic, 2009)
The overall investment that is being put in place to build the new nuclear programme is thought to be in the region of around £40 billion. As set out in the programme, all joint venture consortiums are responsible for construction, decommissioning and waste costs, with no government money or incentives available. Each reactor is thought to be costing at least £8 billion each (www.contractjournal.com, 2009). This funding is thought is earmarked for up to ten new reactors to be build by 2025 and construction starting in 2013. The funding it self mostly coming from the private companies/joint ventures, made up of EDF, E-on, Iberdrola, GDF Suez and Scottish and Sothern Energy.
The uncertainty has been put into question over the £40 billion budget, as nuclear is one of the most cost uncertain buildings that can be constructed due the long lead ins, the length of time to construct, the risks associated in building it and the complex design of nuclear reactors. With the factors above being taken into account, the actual investment being put place by the joint venture consortiums will not be guaranteed, especially the latter reactors if the earlier ones prove to be unsuccessful.
The year 2013 is being targeted to begin construction of the plants, to enable to meet the deadline of the first reactor being ready for 2018. It is thought that the follow into 2019 and the rest of them will be complete by 2025. The first two reactors to be constructed will the joint venture between Areva and EDF, the other plants will follow simuatalisly
The procedure and lead in times for nuclear reactors are astonishing due to the complex nature of the building. The planning stage for any nuclear reactor is uncertain, while construction programmes are more certain it takes a lot longer than other buildings. Nuclear reactors can up to 5 - 7 years to construct, tor three times longer than other buildings that could be much bigger including large hospitals and shopping centres.
4.7 Supply Chain
The supply chain in Britain to help construct the new reactors is vast, offering a whole range of resources including, civil and main contractors, nuclear engineers and specilists in dealing with associated nuclear issues including waste and decommissioning. This not only makes the task easier in constructing these reactors much easier by having experienced and competent companies on the doorstep, this programme will help create thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain from pre-design through to comissioning.
4.7.1 Skills Shortages
Although the ability to build the reactors seems realistic, there has been doubts over the availability of nuclear engineers. A major obstacle to a possible new build programme in the UK is the country's increasing shortage of nuclear engineering skills (neimagazine, 2007). The problem is caused by the lack of new graduates entering the industry and as Britain as not build a new reactor for many decades, many of the engineers are now close to retirement age.
4.8 Environmental Impact
Nuclear reactors do not produce any harmful C02 emissions while it produces, which is one of the fundamental reasons by the English government have decided to opt for nuclear. However, it still produces very dangerous materials and requires significant remedial works after a reactor has been decommissioned.
4.8.1 Radioactive Waste
Nuclear waste disposal has been one of the more recalcitrant problems facing the nuclear industry - a decisive impediment to its expansion. (Adamantiades, 2008).
The waste that is produced from the nuclear reactors is potentially very harmful and dangerous and can be catagorised into different sections including low, medium and high volume. The main challenge that the new nuclear build faces is locating sites to bury the waste deep under the ground and the communities close to these sites will campaign heavily to keep these locations empty of nuclear waste because of the harmful affects.
Whatever the effects of the waste, it should be noted that the waste generated is significantly less than the waste produced by other power plants. These other produce the much documented C02 emissions, but also millions of tons of waste such as ash and silt. There is also countless research programmes ongoing to decrease the amount of waste produced and to reduce the toxic level of the waste.
The decommissioning process is carried out when the nuclear reactor has run its life cycle and has to be closed. The procedure is carried to dismantle the building and clean all left over radioactive material.
Cite This Dissertation
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below: