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Renewables the solution to UK’s critical fossil fuel shortage – report



The UK faces a desperate shortage of natural resources such as oil and coal, according to a troubling new report that underlines the need for significant investment in renewable energy.

In new analysis, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) have comprehensively mapped known international reserves of resources, also looking at supplies of food and water.

They found that the UK’s own reserves contain only enough oil to last 5.2 years at the current rate of consumption, with just 4.5 years of coal and three years of gas.

This means the UK is slightly better off than some of its neighbours – France, for example, has less than a year’s worth of oil, gas and coal.

However, some other European states are far better off. Russia has enough oil to sustain itself for over 50 years, with over 100 years of gas and more 500 years of coal, based on current internal consumption.

Norway has enough natural gas to last itself 420 years, while further afield, Qatar could continue consuming its gas reserves at the current rate for over a millennium.

“These maps show vulnerability in many parts of the EU and they paint a picture of heavily-indebted European economies coming under increasing threat from rising global energy prices”, said Dr Aled Jones, director of the GSI.

Prof Victor Anderson, also of the GSI, added that the report highlighted the need for alternative energy sources.

“The UK urgently needs to be part of a Europe-wide drive to expand renewable energy sources such as wave, wind, tidal and solar power”, he said.

Above: European resource maps for coal, gas and oil (click to enlarge).

Increased energy security is one of the biggest advantages that domestically produced renewable energy brings.

In April, a committee of MPs criticised the British government for failing to deliver plans that offer a secure, long-term energy supply.

This came after the Conservative party pledged to cut support for onshore wind projects and the Coalition government altered subsidies for solar power, making investors uneasy about the prospects of renewable projects.

The analysis is the first phase of the GSI’s ambitious Global Resource Observatory project, a survey that will provide an international database of national demand, supply and flow figures relevant to global resource security.

The first published findings also include a map of food reserves, finding that while Europe, America and Russia are well stocked, Africa the Arabian Peninsula and the Caribbean are highly dependent on imports.

Photo: johnny choura via Flickr

Further reading:

Guy Hands: Ukraine crisis shows importance of renewable energy

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

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

Investments in renewables must increase, warns UN

Global Sustainability Institute to map effects of global resource shortages


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