Sample Essay

Words 2,320

Introduction

Fossil fuels are used today mainly in three ways in the UK (House of Lords – Economic Affairs Committee 2008):

1-      For heating

2-      For transport

3-      For generation of electricity

Once electricity has been generated it can be used to power electrical transport and heating systems as well. However it might be more efficient to use renewable sources directly for heating or transport, whenever possible.

The International Energy Agency’s renewable energy factsheet lists six main sources of renewable energy (International Energy Agency 2007):

1-      Hydropower

2-      Combustible Biomass

3-      Geothermal Energy

4-      Solar Energy

5-      Wind Energy

6-      Tide/Wave/Ocean Energy

All six sources of renewable energy have been implemented in the UK.

Hydropower

The power of flowing water has been harnessed in Britain since ancient times. The remains of several watermills dating from the Roman Imperial period have been recovered from various places in the UK (O’Reilly 1902). In the twentieth century a number of large dams were constructed in the UK that has the capacity to provide large amounts of electricity. These have now however gone out of fashion and no new large dams are likely to be ever constructed, since the environmental and social impact of large dams on wildlife and human settlement is deemed to be too great (British Hydropower Association 2006). Instead the growing trend is to install many small, environmentally friendly micro and Pico hydro electric power plants throughout the country. There are seventeen large installations of hydroelectric power in the UK that have the capacity to provide over 20 Megawatts of electricity. Some of these are:

Dinorwig Power Station

With a 1728000 kW power generation capacity, the Dinorwig power station in Wales is the largest hydropower installation in the UK. However Dinorwig is not a net generator of electricity, it is a net consumer of electricity. Dinorwig is an example of a pumped storage hydroelectric power generator used to generate extra electricity needed for the peek hours of electricity use. This is done by utilizing the cheaper electricity produced during off-peak hours to pump water to the top reservoirs of the dam, during peek hours this water is released, generating electricity to satisfy the extra demand.

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