As the global demand for energy increases there is are two increased strains placed on global energy resources:
- Energy must be used sparingly and with the utmost efficiency
- The non-renewable sources of energy are finite are must be conserved. We simply cannot afford to be wasteful; energy is a precious resource. Neither do we want the pollution caused by burning them.
In terms of improving the efficiency with which energy is used, we have to recognise that all of us as individuals have responsibilities. It is easy to say we will leave it to our government to do what is necessary. There are many simple thing that we can do in our everyday lives that will help save energy. The following are a few examples:
- Walk or cycle to and form school rather than rely on your people to drive you around
- Homes in temperature latitudes lose an average of 50% of their heat through the walls and loft spaces. Insulation is used to stop this and therefore reduces energy (heating) bills. It may be costly upfront but long term it is more efficient and costs less. The same can be applied to curtains and blinds the summer letting less heat in and reducing the cost of air conditioning.
- Pack the empty spaces in the freezer and refrigerator either with ice trays or polystyrene. The more space that is taken up, the less energy it takes to cool or freeze things. Do nor run the kettle, dishwasher or the washing machine unless they are full.
- Many of us have more electronic and electrical gadgets than ever. Computers, mobile phones, televisions etc. all use energy. Putting your computers and appliances to `Sleep` or `Hibernate` or even just off overnight can save precious electricity. Instead of charging your mobile phone overnight, charge beforehand and unplug overnight.
Case Study: The Changing Energy Situation In The UK
During the last 20 years there have been great changes in the UK’s energy situation. The most important of these is that the demand for electricity increased by one-third. Another vital change is in the sources of energy used to generate this electricity. No longer is the UK heavily dependant on electricity in coal powered station. The image below shows the change in pattern of energy sources used to generate electricity from 1990 to 2008. Coal as declined significant due to the great increase in natural gas use, this has been called the `dash for gas`.
The attraction is that electricity can be generated more cheaply by burning gas rather than coal. Natural gas also burns more cleanly. Up to 2000 the UK relied entirely on it’s own gas fields, mainly in the North Sea, but as these fields are becoming exhausted so increasing amounts of gas are having to be imported from Belgium, Norway Russia and the Middle East.
Nuclear power has changed little as a generator of electricity . Included in the `renewables` category are energy sources such as hydroelectric power(HEP) and win power. These still contribute only a small amount to the total electricity output of there UK, although in the future contributions are expected to be greater.
Concerns over global warming, plus the increasing demand for energy, is forcing the UK Government to reduce their reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels, The country is facing a growing energy gap. Closing this gap will require more dependence on nuclear power, as well as an increase in hydroelectric power possibly and the use of waste to produce biogas. This is when the gases produced in the decay of waste (including domestic and animal waste) is combusted to produce energy.