Date Published: 12 March 2010
UK Experts challenge all-electric energy future
Experts at the University of Surrey have highlighted an important opportunity to harness untapped energy to help achieve the country’s aims of cutting carbon dioxide emissions and increasing efficiency.
In a recently released report, researchers highlight critical challenges in the current ‘all-electric’ approach to decarbonisation of the UK energy system. This involves a high level of reliance on electricity to meet our energy needs especially the use of electricity for heating buildings and powering cars. The report claims that the current approach risks undermining the Government’s ability to meet stringent 80% cuts in CO2 emissions by 2050. It proposes that ‘waste’ heat from power generation could meet a significant share of our demand for energy, providing a more efficient, flexible and resilient energy system. To this end, heat storage can be used to help manage the intermittent output of some renewable sources of energy and there would be reductions in growth in peak demand that has potential to place real strain on the electricity system in 2050.
The advantages of a different approach would include:
- A more flexible energy system overall, with reduced peaks in electricity demand and with greater capacity to store surplus electricity in the form of heat
- A reduction in energy losses from power generation of 30% (saving 8 MTOE, a MTOE is a measure of energy use which means Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent.)
- Lower primary energy consumption – a 5% cut, reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels
Professor Matt Leach, of the University of Surrey’s Centre for Environmental Strategy, said:
" In recent years we’ve seen many studies of the future energy mix. It is all too easy in those to home in on one or two options that seem to offer a one size fits all solution, but uniform solutions can bring their own problems, and there is value in diversity. Fostering innovation and a variety of approaches to meeting our heating and transport needs are vital to our future prosperity.
A more diverse energy economy is likely to be more robust, more efficient and ultimately more successful.”
The report, by leading energy scientists at Imperial College London and the
University of Surrey, proposes a more integrated approach to energy supply.
This work was commissioned by the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA), but the study was an independent piece of academic work.
The research team of leading scientists in the field of energy policy includes Professor Matt Leach and Dr Rob Gross, of Imperial College London.
Source: Surrey University.