Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Dominick Farmer
Last updated: September 28, 2019
The Civil Engineering Industry has seen many changes in the energy sector. The UK has seen a vast drive towards renewable the past few years. Starting from the way in which heat and electricity is generated to how it is supplied in the energy network. The increase of the usage of renewables has enabled the development of more decentralised power generating stations. Decentralised energy means it is produced close to where it will be used rather than received through the national grid. In addition to reducing the transmission losses and lower carbon emissions, this new local energy generation sources will also offer more competitive prices than tradition energy.
Furthermore, renewable generation has variable nature and hence requires base load power and a grid with enough flexibility to manage and sustain the ups and down during the energy generation and avoid loss of power if weather conditions are not the most adequate. It is clear that this movement towards renewables requires innovative solutions however there are many other sources of energy generation which has proven to be a challenge not only for the Civil Engineering Industry but also the government who are working to implement them. This paper will discuss the different forms of energy currently available in the UK along with the future plan from the UK government, and finally what it means for the Civil Engineering Industry.
BACKGROUNDIn order to development to occur innovation needs to take place and for that an environment for innovation to thrive needs to be created. One of the key roles the government is implementing is ensuring the rules for the energy system do not block innovation. Liberalisation of the UK market began in 1980s, it helped to ensure prices for consumer were kept low and have also influenced the start of new businesses. Moreover, the current system of regulations has been set up to move power from big power stations to people’s home via down long wires.Although this may be true new technology is definitely challenging that model.
Many homes and businesses can now produce their own electricity by using technologies such a solar panels, hence turning into mini-power stations. Electric vehicles have also seen fast increase. There is also some advances in the storage technology which is essential if the plan is to manage the grid effectively, cheaply and mainly avoid the need for new wires and power stations. Now, consumers can also help reduce their own electricity bills by managing to switch things off and therefore reducing the overall cost of the system UK ENERGY POLICYWhen formulating new energy strategy, the UK faces the so often described energy “trilemma”.
Energy trilemma is mainly composed of three vital, but often competing policies: Decarbonisation, Security of supply and cost. First, Decarbonisation ensures that a reduction on carbon and other green house gas emissions from energy supply and use are obtained in order to reduce impacts on climate change. Second, Security of supply reassures population that an adequate security of energy supply must be maintained at all time whether be it in the long or shore term, as resilience must exist. Last and finally is Cost. Cost must be affordable for consumers. Obtaining the three policies in balance can be proved a challenge. Decarbonisaton and security of supply are key, however they also must be cost-effective.The UK government is aware that solving the energy trilemma and creating a sustainable energy market is not the product of one single innovation.
The answer is likely to be an evolving combination of new technologies, new business models, and new interactions between consumers and their energy use.As well as a clear statement that UK government plans to invest in a number of energy generating sources, it has also promised to show down coal station by 2025 is committed to focus on gas and nuclear power generating facilities and is also looking at commitment towards offshore wind facilities if the cost come down.Meeting the Trilemma ChallengeIn order to deliver progress on the trilemma the government has identified three immediate, specific policy actions of delivery. It has determined it should have a more determined approach through policies in order to build an energy demand management. The government is looking at strengthening existing schemes as the Green Deal and smart metering, implement Electricity Market Reform which should establish long-term investor confidence, and finally it believes that the Office of Gas and Electricity Market (Ofgem) should have its remit strengthened in order to improve future demands on energy capacity from other infrastructure sectors and improve interruption caused by extreme weather events.
Therefore, the objectives are clear. Providing security of electricity energy supply, which essentially means being able to withstands peak period ensuring sufficient generating capacity to meet demand. Clear decarbonisation pathways to 2030 putting the UK on the road to its 2050 commitments.Energy is essential for everyday life, in the interest of sustainability renewable energy is increasingly being investigated. Alternative renewable energy includes hydro energy from water, solar energy from the sum and bio from plant material and wind energy, n Energy management in small and medium companies is extremely important for the competitiveness and for its survival. Energy options that suits the needs of people using themIt it important to realize that all types of energy technology have a role to play. All cost-effective low carbon technologies is needed because one single low carbon solution, cannot deliver the amount in change required.
Another key point is to reduce energy demand as well as changing to low carbon energy sources and improve the efficiency of energy use. Hydro fuels will continue to have a role in the many years to come, although the quantity used will need to reduce.Leaving EU Impact: How well the government is prepared to deal with changesEqually important are the implications of the UK leaving the European Union and the challenges it may bring to the country.
How well prepared Government is to deal with these disruptive changes to the sector. However The UK also have a big change to revolutionise the UK energy industry by bringing an identity to itself. For years the UK have used oils and gas (coal), but now going towards renewables could result in a challenging but exciting journey for civil engineering industry. Engineers have a major task head of them in delivering the solution to the energy trilemma. Starting from the construction of new energy infrastructure which should include the generation and transmission of low carbon electricity; the integration in the built environment of energy efficiency measures; the resilience increase and delivery of decarbonised energy in order to deliver cost reductions to the public; managing and controlling the impact of energy infrastructure on the environment, including air, water and land in order to reduce climate change; reduction of high carbon materials in the construction industry; making training available in order to ensure people have the knowledge required to make low carbon energy a reality; allowing a long-term view and flexibility on the market signals and policy framework hence providing confidence to the market.Brexit will not and does not change the mutual benefit existent with European counterparts because there will always be a mutual point. There is a big determination to get costs down, because this would build commercial momentum and assist on the delivery on the local scale reductions of emissions.Britain is building a world-leading technology centre across the country.
A good example of that is the Nuclear cluster in Cumbria which brings together industry, researches and local Government to develop would-leading expertise in fuel and engineering, which increases jobs opportunities and and drives growth to the area (xxx).Furthermore, the offshore wind farm have also received substantial attention. An example of that is Hull in Middlesbrough where businesses and major manufactures facilities are being established and prospering, hence attracting more people to the area. (xxx) Great Yarmouth and the Humber are also good upcoming locations for offshore wind farms.Britain must ensure British skilled workers, including engineers, are available and trained accordingly in order to fulfil the demand which is coming. Furthermore, if the UK focus on the correct training and invest in the right industries, it has the potential of significant growth and not only be able to upgrade its in infrastructure but also take coal power plants off the system.Priorities when comes to Renewables Energy security”Energy security being first priority of the policy might delay the transition process to renewables”xxx(Amber Rudd).
Energy security is a major area of concern for the government when move toward renewables. The population wants the energy to be there all the time so there is an energy demand expectation. Citizens want a better form of energy, one that is going to do less damage to the climate, however they do not want to pay any more for what they already do, which can happen but it is not what is desired.There are three big drivers that will change how the population use the energy. First is the climate change, second is populations growth and third is the increase demand for more energy.
The good news is as mentioned by (xxx) Atkins CEO ” Reserves of oil will not end. We will only have to stop using them. Fuel is and always will be important as we have not found anything else that can replace it on the planet. We need a mix of energy sources to make the transition”. Although the hydro fuel present in not about to not run out by the words of (xxx), it is imperative that it is found a contender for its replacement. A potential winner is the Nuclear fusion reactor in the south of France, which is being designed to create limitless about of energy ( xxx).
This is very exciting for the engineering industry not only for the United Kington but but the world.ITER, which means “The Way” in Latin, is one the most ambitions energy projects in the world today. ITER is designed to be a device that produces net energy through magnetic fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy which is based on the same principle that powers the Sun and stars( xxx). The countries involved in this exciting venture are China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States(xxx).
Thousand of engineers and scientist have contributed to the design of ITER since it was first launched in 1985 ( xxx). How will the energy of fusion be harnessed? The machine designed for the job is named “The Tokamak”. But firstly, an overall idea of how a common power plant function is described: Usually power plants either rely on renewable sources such as wind and water or fossil fuels and nuclear fission ( xxx). The plants uses whatever sources to converts mechanical power into electrical power( xxx). The Tokamak is doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber where energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel(xxx). The fusion power plant is then able to use the head generated to produce steam and the steam in turn drives the turbines generators to produce electricity (xxx). Contribution of civil engineers/ Civil engineering roleCivil Engineers play a vital role in designing, delivering and managing the UK energy infrastructure because energy should be used, produced and generated efficiently and without harming the planet therefore the implication of UK energy policy have indeed a great impact on the engineering industry.UK Smarter Energy system ( Use this after storage)the UK get 14% of the electricity from intermittent sources and the electricity supply remains the most reliable in Europe ( xxx).
Therefore the main challenge for the government is to maintain costs down while maintaining while designing a system that can manage intermittency, allow storage, which are all built in with IT and interconnections. (xxx) This would be a truly smart system. Main challenge is to ensure that the hardware is fit for purpose. The government intend to make sure that by 2020 every home and small business will have a new smart meter, replacing meters with 100 years old technology.
This will end estimated bills and make it easy to switch suppliers and help user with key information such as where they are spending the most energy on(xxx). This will ensure stop wasting energy and save an around £11 of a normal bill by 2020 and up to £50 by 2030. (xxx)The infrastructure to make this happen is essential. The aim is to ensure this system harness the potential of storage and be the most efficient and productive in the world (xxx).Upgrading our Energy SystemThe energy decentralisation will and is causing a competition between energy suppliers which is good news for the consumer. Forms of energy: (video) and presentationChallenges to Future use of coalBig drives that will change how we use energy World consumptionFuture of energy (video) not stopping using oil ad gas/Problems: Replacing old nuclear power plantsProblems: Energy UKone of Government policies is the start of energy storage which is a particular area of concern after the nuclear energy market got reviewed and the recent changes n the renewables support programs (xxx) (Greg Clarke speech). Although this energy storage policy has been held by policy and regulatory barrier, it has got a great opportunity to ensure the UK meets its renewable targets and helps release some of margins of the electricity capacity (xxx).
Moreover Nuclear appears to be the main point of focus when it comes to low-carbon in the UK, even with the concerning setbacks at the Hinkley Point C due to technical issues (xxx). Another highlighter point also brought the attention of the government is the proposed changed to the renewable support programs and support of onshore wind (xxx) (ICE). Although the Government assures that it is still on its way to met the UK 2020 renewable energy targets is it not recognised what the outcome may be.Why energy industry is a good industryUK market – energy policy key elementsCurrent UK market projectsKey Engineering realityINDUSTRIAL STRATEGY AND CLIMATEThe government assures that energy and clean technology is central to its vision for the future and that the challenge to decarbonise the country is also an enormous opportunity for companies, scientist and engineers.
Emissions have fallen 38% since 1990, which is more than both Germany and Denmark and by 2020 the country will have around 35% of its electricity from renewables, and work also been done to the bring nuclear industry back to life ( xxx).It is obvious this is not everything and that much more needs to be done. There opportunities for this transformation is in every part of the country. If the Uk expertise can build on its strengths and expertise, it will have an exciting future with clean and cheap technology.The government states that it will not deviate from the difficult decisions.
The changes being made should upgrade the country’s infrastructure, making it secure and affordableCONCLUSION:The provision of energy has always been mankind’s greatest engineering challenge and delivering the future energy system is a pressing key engineering reality. It is of extreme importance that a timeframe for action is followed, so that carbon reduction targets are met, prices are kept down and security of the grid is maintained.The addition of a climate imperative makes the challenge all the greaterOnly engineers can build the solutionThere has never been a more exciting time to an engineer in the energy sector.
Stay curious, stay flexible.COALBurning fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect. The combustion of coal in particular, not only generates twice the carbon dioxide emissions of gas such as but the process also emits oxides of sulphur and oxides of nitrogen which are responsible for acid rain when mixed with water vapour(xxx).
Some believe that this problem can be solved with the low surplus coal for example. However in reality coal power stations should seize to exist if greenhouse effect is to be reduced.FUTURE OF COAL According to (xxx) the projection for the future is decrease the generation of electricity from coal, and by 2030 all coal generation should be ended. The main role coal today is to maintain security of supply in the UK during the transition to a low carbon electricity supply.
The coal station can help provide reserve capacity during low wind periodsNUCLEAR SUPPLYNuclear power is a safe and secure source of low carbon electricity, however the UK’s current list of nuclear reactor is reaching end of life and new investment is yet to be injected. They government has started new programs and has kept successful interest in nuclear plants but majority of of the work has been very slow which could eventually affect delivery time. ( xxX)The government policy has remained successful to date but difficulties have been regarding the high capital required for new projects and the lack of potential developers. With less developers interested the opportunity to maintain costs low diminishes.CARBON CPTURE AND STORAGE (CCS)Carbon Capture and Storage is a technology that can capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide emission produced during the generation of electricity through fossil fuels ( xxx).
CCS Captures the carbon dioxide, transport it and finally store it underground either where no oil or gas is present or a deep saline aquifer formation ( xxx). One of the main advantages of of CCS is that it enables the continued use of fossil fuel while avoiding most of the carbon emissions however the challenge with this option is that it is not fully economically viable solution as it requires an extended infrastructure network for transport and storage that needs to be implemented.OFFSHORE WINDThe UK is responsible for the generation of electricity from offshore wind than any other country. The sector meets around 5% of annual demand and is expected to grow 10% by 2020 (The crown estate website). The wind energy is the most mature amongst the other renewable technologies in the UK. The cost of deep offshore wind turbines still causes an uncertainty whether it is viable to invest. Although, it does produce competitive prices with the onshore wind and nuclearBIOMASSBiomass is fuel generated from organic material such a scrap lumber, forest debris, certain crops and some types of water residues (xxx). It is a great renewable source because waste residues will always exist.
It may be from construction demolition to wood not used to solid waste. However, there is still work needed to determine a potential scale of sustainable supply. Britain is predicting to see by 2030 biomass accounting for 5-10% of primary energy (xxx)OTHER RENEWABLESSolar panels, wave, tidal, geothermal hydroelectric and energy from waste are all renewable that could make part of the electricity system within the next few years. The solar panels for instance, has had a significant cost reduction in the last few years, which has been an advantage for the government in respect to subsides and falling prices for small scale businesses. The lesson for Britain at this point is to learn from other countries such as Spain and Germany which have a much higher use of solar panels thanks UK in other to be able to integrate it to the system and effetely manage the demand and storage of this electricity.TIDAL – Tidal is an interesting source of renewable energy however the cost does not look attractive, however it has a long life and in average it could be similar to other generation types. ( xxx)HYDROELECTRIC, GEOTHERMAL AND ENERGY FROM WASTEThese are well understand methods and should used whenever possible but for the UK gird, they might always be insignificant, although they may benefit certain regions more than others.
FOSSIL FUELSShale Gas and tight oilApart from the fact that CCS can be used along the onshore oil and gas sector in UK, fracking still has a level of public opposition which can possible delay the development of any drilling. More over, shale gas and oil is unlike to be part of the Uk’s future energy system. DEMAND SIDEDemand can be as important as the supply. It can deliver through better technology and infrastructure a much more efficient lower carbon, cost effective system with the same level of service for cheaper bills.HEATOne of the biggest areas that could immediately make significant changes is the domestic heat sector.
The government has put incentives in place such as the Green deals but have had the funding removed due to poor performance. Some of the areas in which the government should focus :— Ensuring new buildings are as energy efficient as it claims to be on paper by researching into the most used products and ensuring installers are competent and aware of building regulations. Ensure old building is also fitted with new technology and that sufficient, well-trained personnel is available to install and maintain these new heating systems