The world uses over 320 billion kilowatt-hours of energy a day. That’s the equivalent of everybody on earth running 22 lightbulbs non-stop, forever.
All this energy has to come from somewhere, and for many countries around the world, it comes from fossil fuels. This is bad for the environment, but it can also pose economic problems, as we’re currently experiencing. With so much energy coming from a finite source, eventually, there will come a crunch where there isn’t enough fuel to meet our energy needs.
Many factors contributed to the energy crisis we currently find ourselves in, but only one way out: renewable energy.
To understand how to get out of the energy crisis, it’s helpful to understand how we got here.
A significant amount of the energy we use in the UK is generated from fossil fuels, much of which needs to be imported. More than three-quarters of our homes use natural gas for heating, making it an incredibly vital resource across the country, which we don’t make ourselves.
Demand for natural gas has steadily risen in China and other countries over the last decade, putting additional pressure on production and distribution, as well as a rise in prices.
Russia provides some of the UK’s natural gas supply, and there is a common belief that this is the cause of the current energy crisis. However, less than 4% of the UK’s natural gas was supplied by Russia in 2021.
Russian fuel is not the root cause of the energy crisis, merely a contribution to it. The pandemic was another. In 2020, energy demands plummeted during the lockdown, meaning fossil fuel production and investment also fell.
The pandemic also forced vital maintenance and repairs on fossil fuel infrastructure to be postponed. This meant that when demand rose after lockdowns ended, it simply couldn’t be met, plunging us into an energy crisis.
However, given the inherently finite nature of fossil fuels, it was always inevitable that we would find ourselves in an energy crisis sooner or later, as natural gas and oil reserves are certain to run out eventually.
The precarious supply of fossil fuels makes us vulnerable to energy crises like we’re seeing now. Given how volatile the fossil fuel market is, and how precious the resources are, it’s only logical that as demand increases, supply decreases, and prices rise, trapping us in a cycle that punishes people just trying to heat their homes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Renewable energy can ensure a constant supply of clean energy for everyone, breaking our reliance on importing energy from around the world, and helping ensure bills are manageable.
The single biggest benefit of renewable energy from an economic point of view is that we can generate it at scale across the country. Solar panels could be installed on skyscrapers, residential homes, even roads that can be used to generate solar energy. Wind power can be generated on land, at sea, and on the tops of buildings.
While renewable energy generated through solar and wind can’t be created 24/7, methods for storing and transporting it are improving all the time.
This can help end the energy crisis as no country would have to rely on others for their energy needs, eliminating the political and economic restraints that we currently find ourselves up against.
In recent weeks over 50% of all electricity in the UK has been generated from wind energy alone. With additional investment, combined with solar power, this could grow to meet all of our energy needs, making a real difference to the energy bills of everyone in the country.
If renewable energy got widespread adoption, we could soon be generating more power than we need. Individuals with their solar panels could then sell excess energy back to the government. European households with solar panels are saving around 60% on their electricity bills, with the ability to make extra savings through energy sales to governments.
If this were something UK residents could do across the country, this would give us a stockpile of energy, even during winter when new energy would be harder to create, safeguarding us from future crises.
The energy crisis is an economic crisis. Given that renewable energy is cheaper than traditional fuels like gas, they could easily provide a way out of the economic cost that comes from being reliant on fossil fuels.
A decade ago, the cost per megawatt/hour of gas was $83 while the MWh cost of wind was $135, solar was almost three times as expensive, at $359.
As of last year, those costs had completely reversed. Wind and solar were $36 per MWh, whereas gas was $60.
As solar and wind energy improves and becomes more efficient, it also becomes cheaper.
Countries that invest in renewable energy will be protected from energy market fluctuations, as they will have a degree of self-reliance thanks to the energy they generate themselves.
Without a secure and reliable means of generating our energy, the UK will remain at the mercy of whoever is supplying the gas we need, meaning future energy crises will sadly be a certainty. Renewable energy can provide for everyone, ending our reliance on fossil fuels, and freeing us from energy anxiety.
Learn more about the future of green energy, or learn about sustainability in the marine sector and how the aviation industry is becoming more sustainable.
The skills shortage is one of the biggest issues facing the technical sector today. Across different industries, wheth...Read full blog
Women hold less than a quarter of all jobs in energy production and distribution, despite making up almost half of the g...Read full blog