Recent news on energy

This piece appeared in the Methodist Recorder, 12 Jan 24, and is republished here by permission of MR and the writer.

The latest Methodist Church "Property Matters" (December) includes this paragraph:

"The Methodist Church in Britain has set a target of Net Zero by 2030. This will require action in a number of different areas and contexts, but crucial to achieving this will be ensuring that the energy we use is green, renewable energy.

"Moving to using green energy not only ensures that the energy we use does as little as possible to contribute to the climate emergency, but allows us to demonstrate collectively that we, as a church, want to see the greater capacity for renewable energy".

This may be a statement of the official methodist position, but I wonder how many Methodists would entirely agree?

I, for one, would question how "green" renewable energy actually is. It is true that wind farms and solar farms produce electricity (albeit intermittently) without any emissions of carbon dioxide, but the production of concrete and steel and the mining operations for various rare elements used in them involve large amounts of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions.

To phase out fossil fuels from the generation of electricity, the only real option is nuclear.


    Thanks Howard - Ed.

    Currently, as I type this, UK Electricity demand is 42 GW

    Electricity share of generation:
    34% Gas
    30% Wind
    12% Interconnectors from Europe
    7% Nuclear
    7% Biomass
    4% Coal
    3% Hydro and pumped storage
    0% Solar

    You can see from these figures the fragility of our supply. Wind can disappear in an instant, and 12% of our electricty is coming from Europe. Other very small suppliers (e.g. the STOR reserve - lots of diesel generators) are contributing the remaining 3%.

    Whatever happened to the concept of energy security?

    It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in today's political climate where there is insufficient electricity to meet demand. More nuclear stations are scheduled for closure... and when I came back from London to Leicester on the M1 a couple of days ago, on a breezy day, one-third of the wind turbines were not operating.

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