The mixture of primary energy sources used is called the energy mix. The energy mix of the UK consists mostly of gas, coal and nuclear fuel. The last oil-fired power station in the UK closed in 2015.
The UK has been reliant on fossil fuels for many years. Global supplies of fossil fuels were once thought to be running out. However, as technology improves, new supplies can be discovered and accessed more easily. There are huge, barely tapped reserves in South America, Africa and the Arctic.
It is estimated that gas will last another 50 years and coal another 112 years. Around 40% of the UK's gas supply currently comes from domestic supplies (the North Sea). However, UK supplies of fossil fuels could run out within just 5 years.
Renewable fuels make up less than 10% of the UK's energy mix. The government needs to increase this figure to 15% by 2020 to meet its European Union target. The UK has a lot of potential for generating renewable energy:
There are economic and environmental issues that are associated with the exploitation of energy sources:
Generating electricity costs a lot of money. There are initial costs, such as building power stations, dams and wind farms. There are also maintenance and running costs, such as buying fuel, repairing damage to structures and disposing of waste products. The government must balance these costs with other important things that the country must buy. They must also decide whether to invest in non-renewable or renewable options.
Generating electricity has many environmental issues: