Monday, December 21, 2009

Where does our energy go?

Just doing a little research on how much energy the UK uses, and where it goes - with a view to wondering what we are going to be able to hang on to. This is where we get our energy from (here)

Units are Million tonnes of oil equivalent
Coal: 37.9
Oil: 74.4
Gas: 93
Nuc: 11.9
Hydro: 1.1
Imports: 0.9
Renewables: 5.3

Total: 224.4

On an individual basis this works out at 3,814kg per head (here)

The fossil fuel elements of that are going through the peaking process, so we can expect them first to become more expensive, then to become increasingly scarce (over what I would guesstimate as a twenty year period, see my post on UK gas supply here).

Balance of payments questions
It has to be said that the UK is not best placed to withstand a constrained energy context. We import most of what we use and we are running out of ways to pay for it. This graph is from this post:

End use:

This is where household fuel goes:

Some rapid tentative conclusions from the household level:
  • the most significant thing we can do to reduce our energy consumption and prepare for the shift is to insulate our homes;
  • normal electrical use (eg TV, internet, fridge) is small beer compared to the two heating functions;
  • therefore I'm still mildly optimistic that my geeky gadgets have a future, especially if the government succeeds in building new nuclear
  • this is also why combined heat and power is important

This is where the transport fuel goes (source):

Rapid tentative conclusions:
  • by far the greatest share goes to private transport;
  • there is massive wastage in private transport; therefore
  • there is a lot of room for comparatively painless squeezing (eg carsharing) as an initial reaction to stress;
  • in the longer run private transport (electrical?) is likely to be the preserve of the wealthy
  • I'm sure there will be a lot of efficiency gains in the wider transport sector but in part that will be through shifting to slower modes of transport (eg the canals)
  • we're not going to be flying in green beans from Kenya anymore; though we may well still import chocolate
  • I think the truck sector will shrink the most
  • there will be much less road transport on the other side of the bump - this will be a very good thing

I don't know much about the industrial use, so I'll find out more about that.

Of course, all I'm doing here is thinking about an energy descent action plan. Which is what the Transition Town movement is for. Next step might be to find out more information about Mersea and how these broad patterns apply locally.

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