At the ICE conference in May 2003, the industry discussed how best to meet the government’s energy White Paper with targets of 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and for 10% of energy supply to come from renewable sources. It is a massive task. The UK has one of the worst records in Europe for exploitation of renewable energy sources.
Wind and renewable sources
Currently renewable sources contribute 3% of the UK’s electricity supply. David Milborrow, British Wind Energy Association vice-chairman, believes wind energy can meet 8% of the 10% target by 2010. The price of electricity generation from onshore wind farms is competitive with that of coal or gas at 2.5p/kWh, but off-shore at 5.5p/kWh it is expensive. A four-fold increase in research is needed to exploit possible reduction in offshore electricity generation.
Mitsui Babcock director of technology, Mike Farley, gives two solutions to improve the burning efficiency of coal power stations. One is through a £100m upgrade by retrofitting advanced supercritical boiler and turbine systems which would give a 15-25% reduction in carbon emissions. However, technology for the capture of CO2 and storage in reservoirs is less well advanced, with considerable research being undertaken in the US. The problem for research in the UK is funding, the £60m made available in the White paper being insufficient, according to David Anderson, the ICE chairman. It looks as though we will have to rely on gas, which cannot last for ever. Anderson wants more pipelines constructed to allow diversification of import routes.