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Can renewable energy sources power the world?
Can renewable energy sources power the world?

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4.2 Energy supply and demand in the UK

In the UK, energy demand is categorised into four main sectors:

  • domestic
  • services (i.e. commercial and institutional)
  • industry
  • transport.

As Figure 5 shows, almost one third of UK primary energy is lost in the process of conversion and delivery – most of it in the form of ‘waste’ heat from power stations. And even when energy has been delivered to customers in the various sectors, it is often used very wastefully.

UK primary and delivered energy use in 2009 (sources: DECC, 2013, DECC, 2014)
Figure 5 UK primary and delivered energy use in 2009 (sources: DECC, 2013, DECC, 2014)

If you look at Figure 6 you’ll see that the contribution of a variety of renewables in 2013 to primary energy supply in the UK was quite small, just over 5%. This can be calculated by multiplying the 17,300 thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) by 42 to get Petajoules (PJ) = 727 PJ, which is 5.2% of total UK primary energy.

However, the percentage contribution of renewables to UK electricity supplies in 2016 was somewhat larger, at nearly 15%, as you can see from Figure 7.

Primary energy contributions from renewable energy sources in the UK, 2016 (source DECC, 2017)
Figure 6 Primary energy contributions from renewable energy sources in the UK, 2016 (source DECC, 2017)
Figure 7 Growth in electricity generation from renewable sources in the UK 2000-2013. In 2016 renewables contributed almost 15% of UK electricity (source: DECC 2017)

The UK Government aims to increase to 15% the contribution of renewable energy to gross final consumption by 2020, in accordance with European Union agreements.