Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

UK increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuels



Air emissions by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Despite energy security issues being raised across the EU earlier this year, analysis from renewable energy firm Good Energy shows that the UK is becoming more reliant than ever on imported fossil fuels.

The research found that in 2013, the UK imported over 60% of the fuel needed to generate electricity from a total of 24 countries, some of which are volatile. The fuel is primarily being delivered to the UK by boat or by pipe and on average travels 3,900 miles.

Energy security has become a big issue and G7 leaders met to discuss solutions amid rising Russia-Ukraine tensions earlier this year. However, the UK is becoming increasingly reliant on imports.

In 2011, 43% of the fuel used for electricity came from the UK, this fell to 35% in 2012. The latest figures show a further decline, with the figure now standing at 33.8%. Additionally, just three countries – Russia, Canada and Australia – supply more than a quarter of the fuel used in the UK.

Writing on the company’s blog, Will Vooght, product innovation manager at Good Energy, states, “Fossil fuel prices are hard to predict and because so much is imported from other countries, we simply have less control over our supply. With limited security over this supply, we’re increasingly in a vulnerable position.

“This is an ominous sign for our economy and worrying news for our energy bills too. Then, of course, there are also environmental impacts of transporting and using such a large proportion of fossil fuels to consider.”

Renewable energy sources do offer a solution. Of the fuel generated in the UK 40.8% comes from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, an increase from the 19.3% registered in 2011. Vooght cites a YouGov survey that was conducted in November 2014 to demonstrate demand, with over three quarters of respondents stating more should be done to increase renewable generation in the UK.

Good Energy also surveyed Feed-in-Tarrif (FiT), which allows customers to feed surplus generated renewable energy back on to the grid, customers and found that once the benefits are clear, from cheaper bills to less reliance on imports, many embrace renewables.

Vooght added, “We’re always going to need electricity. But do we really need to continue relying on imported fossil fuels, which leave the UK increasingly vulnerable? Our research shows most people don’t believe we do.

“It’s not that difficult to imagine a future powered solely by renewables. It’s closer than some may think.”

Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 

Further reading:

G7 leaders meet to discuss energy security amid Ukraine crisis

Energy security, fuel poverty and social change: the lowdown on renewables

European commission sets out future energy strategy

$310bn energy efficiency market saved a continent’s worth of energy

MPs criticise government’s short-termist national energy security plan


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