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between two and seven hours a day while increased productivity and income Electricity

kerosene, candles and batteries are usually more is vital for the success of many small-scale
expensive than modern energy services. businesses. Productivity can be increased by
extending the working day and by mechanisation.
health improvements Inefficient cooking and
heating with biomass fuels causes indoor air improving the environment Direct use of biomass
pollution, which is a significant cause of poor is often very inefficient, causing emissions of toxic

Case Study: The energy situation in the UK

health and death. Indoor air pollution causes materials and greenhouse gases. In addition, the
about 1.8 million deaths a year. Access to poorest people often live in ecologically sensitive
electricity allows clinics to keep vital drugs under areas which are vulnerable to desertification and
refrigeration, which can make a big difference to deforestation.
health and mortality levels.
empowerment of the poor Access to modern
communications helps poor people to become Activities
better informed and more independent. It allows 1 Explain why energy use increases with economic
people to educate themselves to an extent. development.
For example, farmers become more aware of
2 Look at the five bullet points describing the benefits
agricultural prices and how they vary over time and of access to energy services. Which do you think is the
space. most important benefit?

Case study The energy situation in the UK

The UK is rapidly running out of the significant reserves be costly. The government is also under considerable
of oil and gas that made it a leading producer over pressure to reduce the amount of pollution caused 7
the last three decades. In 2005 Britain became a net by energy production and consumption. It has set the

The energy issue

importer of natural gas and is expected to lose its country the optimistic target of reducing greenhouse
self-sufficiency in oil by 2009. To add to this the UK emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
coal industry has continued its considerable decline
Figure 7.24 shows how the UKs energy consumption
in recent decades. By 2020 Britain will be importing
by source has changed since 1990. The main changes
about three-quarters of its primary energy needs. This
is at a time when there are growing fears that energy
could become a political weapon. a modest decline in the share of petroleum
Many of the countrys coal and nuclear power stations a very considerable rise in the relative importance
have been in service for a long time and will need to be of gas
closed in the next decade or so. New development will
an equally significant decline in the share of coal.
1990 Other 2004 Other
0.7% 0.5% The contribution of nuclear power
and other sources of energy (mainly
Nuclear Nuclear HEP) changed little during this
7.4% 7.6%
Coal period.
Gas Oil and gas
The UK has already taken between
Petroleum half and three-quarters of the oil and
gas in its territorial waters. Much of
the remaining North Sea reserves
are in small and remote fields. UK
Figure 7.24 UK energy consumption by source 1990 and 2004
oil production peaked at the end

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of the 1990s and it has now fallen by about 30 per 400

Electricity generation fuel mix (teraWatts per hour)

cent to around two million barrels a day. By 2010 it
could be down to 1.2 million barrels a day. During
the same period it has been estimated that natural 300

gas production will fall from 9400 million cubic feet to

about 6000 million cubic feet.
Case Study: The energy situation in the UK

More than 90 per cent of Britains gas comes from the
North Sea. Approximately 10 per cent is imported via 150

the European gas network. Only 2 per cent of Britains 100

gas supply comes from Russia, a figure well below that
of many mainland European countries. The importation 50

of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to a plant on the Isle of 0

2000 2005 2010 2015 2020
Grain, in Kent, began in 2005.
Clearly, gas imports will rise in the future. There is no Key
other choice as gas is projected to account for an
increasing share of electricity generation (Figure 7.25). Oil
The government is trying to encourage development Gas
of the remaining reserves in the North Sea. One way
is a policy under which oil fields left fallow by their
owners may be given to other companies with plans to Figure 7.25 British electricity generation by source
develop. Also, as many of the largest fields decline in
production and become less profitable to the large oil
companies, smaller companies are taking their place.
7 Figure 7.26 Oil exploration rig on the Cromarty Firth
AS Geography for OCR


Unit2-7.indd 270 16/5/08 10:33:51

New techniques are being developed to extract more has developed forms of coal that burn with greater
oil than previously possible from the North Sea. An efficiency and capture coals pollutants before they are
example applies to the Miller oil field 240km north- emitted into the atmosphere. The latest supercritical
east of Peterhead in Scotland. Production peaked in coal-fired power stations, operating at higher pressures
1995 and the oil field was due to shut down by 2007. and temperatures than their predecessors, can operate
However, by injecting carbon dioxide from a mainland at efficiency levels 20 per cent above those of coal-fired

Case Study: The energy situation in the UK

power station into the oil field it has been estimated power stations constructed in the 1960s. Existing power
that an additional 40 million barrels of oil could be stations can be upgraded to use clean coal technology.
extracted. This would increase the life of the Miller
Key term
field by 15 to 20 years.
Clean coal technology: power plant processes that
Nuclear power both increase the efficiency of coal burning and
significantly reduce emissions.
Until mid-2005 it seemed unlikely that the UK would
consider building a new generation of nuclear power
plants. However, with falling North Sea energy Hydroelectric power
production and other energy concerns, nuclear The UK generates only about 0.8 per cent of its
appears to be back on the agenda. The government is electricity from HEP. Most of the large-scale plants
faced with the difficult decision of either allowing the (producing more than 20 megawatts) are located in the
industry to gradually run down as old plants have to Scottish Highlands. There are very few opportunities
be closed or to build new plants. A significant problem to increase large-scale HEP production in the UK as
is that it takes at least ten years to plan and build a most commercially attractive and environmentally
nuclear reactor. Environmental organisations such as acceptable sites are already in use.
Greenpeace are absolutely opposed to nuclear power.
However, in July 2005 Scottish ministers approved plans
The supporters of nuclear power argue that it is the to build a new HEP generating station at Glendoe U2
only way that the UK can avoid electricity shortages in Inverness-shire. The power station will be built
and meet its climate change obligations at a
underground at the side of Loch Ness. The new plant will
reasonable cost. Without the construction of new generate up to 100 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to

The energy issue

power plants, the share of nuclear generated electricity meet the power requirements of 37000 homes.
will decline from 23 per cent in 2005 to 7 per cent by
2020. Of the countrys 12 nuclear plants, nine are due It has been estimated that if small-scale HEP from all
to be closed in the next ten years. of the streams and rivers in the UK could be tapped, it
would be possible to meet just over 3 per cent of the
Coal countrys total electricity needs.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, coalmining

was the countrys biggest employer. At its peak the
Other renewable forms of energy
industry employed over one million workers. However, The government has set a target of 10 per cent of
at the end of March 2005 there were only 42 opencast electricity from renewable sources by 2010. In 2003,
sites and eight major deep mines in production in the biomass used for both heat and electricity generation
UK, employing 9300 people. In 2004, total UK coal accounted for 87 per cent of renewable energy in
production was 25.1 million tonnes. Coal has declined the UK. The majority came from landfill gas (33 per
because it is the dirtiest and the most inflexible of the cent) and waste combustion (14 per cent). Electricity
fossil fuels, and because virtually all of the countrys production from biomass accounted for 1.55 per cent
easily accessible coal has already been mined. of total electricity supply in 2003.
Total UK coal consumption in 2004 was 60.6 million tonnes Of the other available sources of renewable energy,
with 33 per cent of electricity generated in 2004 coming wind seems to be the only new renewable source of
from coal. The country has 19 coal-fired power stations. energy available to the UK in any significant quantity.
Very little UK coal is exported. However, imports are very Nevertheless, there has been some progress with other
significant, amounting to 36.2 million tonnes in 2004. forms of renewable energy. Listed below are some
Nevertheless, the coal industry in the UK may be on
the point of a limited comeback with the development A small geothermal power plant is in operation in
of clean coal technologies. This new technology Southampton. Opened in 1986 it provides heating

Unit2-7.indd 271 16/5/08 10:33:51

and cooling systems for a number of domestic and and 2010. If this materialises, 7 per cent of the UKs
commercial consumers. The plant uses hot water electricity supply will come from wind. It takes about
from deep below the city. three years from planning consent for a wind farm
to become operational. A recent report by the Royal
In 2003 the total capacity for solar photovoltaics in
Academy of Engineering stated that the only forms of
the UK was only 6 megawatts.
electricity more costly than wind power are wave power
Case Study: The energy situation in the UK

There are two wave power devices operating in the and poultry-litter power. It has been estimated that a
UK, both in Scotland. The total capacity amounts wind farm the size of Dartmoor would be needed to
to 1.25 megawatts. produce the same output as an average conventional
power station.
Wind energy
Scroby Sands, Britains newest (2005) and largest wind
farm, is located on a sand bank 3km off the coast
of Great Yarmouth (Figure 7.27). Its 30 turbines can Figure 7.27 Wind energy locations in the UK

produce sufficient electricity for 41 000 homes.

Key term
Wind farm: a number of wind
Barvas Moor,
turbines grouped together at a
Isle of Lewes
particular location. 702 mw N

The government promotes wind

power at least partly to help meet Causeymire
48 mw
its commitment to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions. Under the 0 50 100 km
U2 renewables obligation certificates, Dun Law
17.16 mw
energy companies are obliged to 31.2 mw
generate part of their electricity Cruach Mhor Whinash,
through renewable sources. At 29.75 mw Cumbria
AS Geography for OCR

81 mw
present the requirement is 4.3 per
cent but this will rise to 15 per cent
by 2015. Power companies without
renewable sources of energy can Scout Moor,
meet their obligation by buying
North Hoyle 65 mw
credits from other companies 60 mw Coal Clough
that operate renewable energy Llyn Alaw,
9.6 mw
facilities. The credit system has
20.4 mw Scroby
resulted in significant payments from Carno sites
Cemmaesas A and B Sands
conventional power companies to 15.3 mw 30.9 mw 60 mw
green operators. Conventional Llandinam
power companies are also subject to Fullabrook Down,
30.9 mw
a climate change tax. Ilfracombe
66 mw
In 2005 the National Audit Office
estimated that total financial Bears Down, Cornwall
9.6 mw West Hinkley,
assistance to the renewable Little Cheyne Court,
energy industry (mainly wind farms) Romney Marsh
33 mw
78 mw
amounted to 700 million a year.
This is expected to rise to 1 billion Key
by 2010.
Under construction or given consent
A recent estimate by the trade Operating
magazine Platts Power UK was
that renewable energy capacity
would rise 21-fold between 2005 mw Megawatts


Unit2-7.indd 272 16/5/08 10:33:54

Microgeneration sponsored Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates that
There has been a developing interest in new small- home-powered generators of various types could
scale energy generators. In the UK, microgenerators provide 30 to 40 per cent of the UKs electricity needs
are generators with an output of less than 50 kilowatts. by 2050.
Photovoltaic tiles and small wind turbines on roofs Key term

Case Study: Energy issues in Mali: an LEDC

are no longer a rarity. If these were installed in large
Microgeneration: generators producing electricity
enough numbers they could take a considerable strain with an output of less than 50kW.
off overloaded distribution grids. The government-

Take it further activity 7.5 on CD-ROM
1 Look at Figure 7.24.
a Explain the composition of Britains energy supply
in 2004.
b Suggest reasons for the changes between 1990
and 2004.
2 Describe the trends shown in Figure 7.25.

Case study Energy issues in Mali: an LEDC U2

Mali in West Africa is a huge landlocked and extremely for lighting. The latter also facilitate TV and radio. A 7
poor country (Figure 7.28). It is in the Sahel, a region small minority have a generator or solar panels.
threatened by drought and desertification. The

The energy issue

Woodcutting is a rural industry in itself and provides
northern 65 per cent of the country is desert or semi-
the only source of employment for many people.
desert. Most people depend on the environment,
Areas close to the main urban areas are particularly
in terms of farming, herding or fishing for their
vulnerable to this activity. In 1994, there were 600 000
livelihoods. The population of 12 million is growing at
about 3 per cent a year.
Figure 7.28 The location of Mali
Energy is a big issue in Mali. The h
country has no fossil fuel resources h

of its own. This means that fossil WESTERN Tropic of Cancer Er


fuels have to be imported through

neighbouring coastal countries, ALGERIA


increasing costs considerably. For


example, generating costs for

grid electricity are twice as high as M A U R I TA N I A
those for the Ivory Coast. Imported MALI
Atlantic Oc ean
petroleum accounts for 8 per cent of Tombouctou
the countrys trade balance. This is a Gao


major financial cost for a very poor




country. SENEGAL Kayes Mopti S A H E L

In rural areas 80 per cent of energy GAMBIA
i ge
Bamako N
needs are supplied by firewood and BURKINA
charcoal. This uses over 50 million FA S O NIGERIA
BISSAU Sikasso
tons of national forest reserves every GUINEA

year. Kerosene lamps, torches and I V O RY GHANA

rechargeable car batteries are used


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