Demand for electricity in the UK is predicted to continue to rise, mainly driven by the increasing needs of the utility companies because of greater demand from businesses and domestic consumers.
Our indigenous reserves of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are being depleted. Energy regulator Ofgem’s Project discovery report published in early 2009 warns that while supplies are thought to be secure for the next couple of years, it has concerns from 2015 onwards. It also acknowledged there was an urgent need to plug the generation gap as coal and oil plant comes off the system to meet 2015 European emissions limits.
The report calls for action to deliver secure supplies and environmental objectives at affordable prices beyond the middle of this decade. It warns that unprecedented levels of investment, in renewable energy projects such as our’s at Shoreham, will need to be sustained over many years in sometimes difficult financial conditions, and against a background of risk and uncertainty.
Coupled with this the UK, along with other EU countries, has signed up to the EU renewables directive. This sets targets for how much of each country’s energy must be generated from renewable sources including wind, solar, tidal and biomass. The directive states that 15 percent of total UK energy consumption should come from renewables by 2020, and by 2050 this target jumps to 80 percent.
Yet electricity generated from all renewables as a percentage of total UK electricity generation stood at 11.3 percent in 2012, up from 9.4 percent in 2011, (source: Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2013).
The UK’s bioenergy strategy was published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in April 2012 and sets out the Government's approach to securing the benefits of bioenergy. The strategy states that: "Bioenergy can be an important part of the energy mix which will allow the UK to meet its energy and climate objectives, including the 2010 renewables targets and 2050 carbon reductions targets." The strategy goes onto state that: "Excluding biomass from the energy mix would significantly increase the cost of decarbonising our energy system – an increase estimated by recent analysis at £44 billion."
The energy white paper states that in the short to medium term a combination of new and existing technologies are opening new possibilities for carbon reduction, this includes microgeneration, district heating schemes, combined heat and power and biomass fuelled heating at community and industrial scale.