Together in electric dreams – the history of energy throughout the UK from fossil fuels to Net Zero
There’s a global effort to reduce carbon emissions good and avoid climate catastrophe, such as COP26 last year demonstrated. Energy is a crucial part of this effort. The story of the transformation from fossil fuels such as oil and coal to more sustainable, renewable as well as nuclear sources of energy will make the history books. But where does energy come from? What’s the background of the use of energy by humans? What’s the reason? Understanding the source of energy helps us better understand how we can use it in the future to transform the world and our lives for the better.
At first, there was sun, water and wood
The sun and water were the first energy sources for life on the planet. Later, humans used wood for heat. In the later years humans used flowing water to make mills turn.
Fossil fuels and the beginning of coal
After they invaded Britain at the time of 43 AD The Romans discovered that coal could provide superior heat than wood. They used it to heat baths , and for forging iron of armor and other battle gear. In the middle ages between the 13th century and 11th century, charcoal accelerated the earliest industries of glass and brick production. The wood was used for fuel but also in shipbuilding, which increased prices. In fact, there was a crisis in energy around 1550, due to an insufficient supply of firewood that lasted until the late 17th century. In this period that coal mining grew in popularity as it was cheaper and more easily accessible than wood for energy sources.
Check out livechatfinder.net for EDF Live Chat
Burn baby burn – the very first electric power source for transport and industry
The Industrial Revolution was the new age for human-generated, electric power that was powered by coal. Since 1750, coal has been utilized for powering machines and tools and was used in 1752. Benjamin Franklin is credited with discovering electric power from the sparks produced by lightning strikes.
In 1769, James Watt patented the world’s first coal-powered steam engine. The result was powerful and efficient machines for factories and mills. Between the years 1769-1801, British production of coal increased by a third – and that was just the beginning of its exponential growth, from 12 million Mega-tonnes at the time of 1800 to almost 300 million tonnes in 1913.
The year was when the UK begin to use gas?
In 1812 Frederick Winsor created the first company in the world to construct public gas works and distribute gas via pipeline networks. This opened up markets for gas however it also alter the daily lives of millions of people to the better by providing access to reliable light heating, energy and heat. (Pretty amazing when you consider that this is also when Britain was at war with Napoleon!)
Gas was used to light London’s streets and by 1827, London’s network provided gas to almost 70,000 streetlights.
Let there be light – and heat everywhere! The Victorian period
The Victorian period brought enormous advancements in energy around the world. The first hydroelectric power plant began functioning within Cragside within the UK. The first coal-powered power station, known as the Edison Electric Light Station, was built in London in 1882, bringing warmth and light to London residences.
Strong and stable- the National Grid opens its doors
The 20th century brought the explosion of energy innovations. Electricity was being pumped into homes and businesses through electricity pylons.
A first fully integrated National Grid launched in 1935. Instead of having a multitude of power stations in small sizes seven grid areas were established within Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, London and Glasgow. Thanks to the National Grid, energy supplies have become more affordable and stable.
Reducing carbon emissions UK renewable energy
1958 saw the first US satellite use solar power to power its operations. However, in UK gas and coal was the dominant source of energy throughout the late 1900s. In 1960, the majority of power came from coal. However, during the 1970s the attention paid to climate change shone a shine on the negative effects of fossil fuels as well as the need for greener, sustainable energy.
It is an extremely carbon-free and abundant source of energy that is sure to never end up running out. This makes it a crucial part of the future energy mix – especially as technologies, like battery storage, are being developed to make renewable energy sources more secure. The world’s first wind farm opened within New Hampshire in 1980, shortly followed by the UK’s first wind farm in 1991. It is located along the stormy Cornish coast. Wind is now the largest source of renewable energy for the UK. EDF alone manages 36 wind farms, which includes two offshore wind farms across the UK.
Solar power was tiny fraction of the electricity produced in the UK in the past until the 2010s when it increased significantly. The first big solar farm in the UK, a 32 MW solar farm, was constructed at the end of November in 2012. The farm is located in Leicestershire located between the runways of the former military airfield Wymeswold.
As of right now in the UK, the renewable energy sector is flourishing with more investments and production. The year 2019 marked a significant milestone, when for the first time, both in the UK and the US there was more energy generated from zero carbon sources than fossil fuels. By using a mix of nuclear and renewable sources to generate our energy, we’re prepared to achieve our 2050 UK goal of net zero emissions total.
Nuclear energy in the UK
Britain was the location of the world’s first industrial-scale nuclear power facility in the late 1950s, and over the course of the past 60 years, it has continued to be a key part of the UK’s energy mix as the most reliable, low carbon energy source currently available to the UK. In 2020 , EDF’s 8 nuclear power stations created enough low-carbon electricity to power 44% of UK homes. We’re proud of being Britain’s largest generator of electricity through nuclear, wind and solar.
A future of Net Zero carbon emissions
One of UK’s leading renewable energy firms, EDF Renewables runs wind as well as solar and battery storage projects across the UK. Around 20percent of the electricity in the UK is produced by our eight nuclear power plants and we’re currently building a brand new nuclear power station located at Hinkley Point C, and planning a second at Sizewell C. To help Britain achieve Net Zero it is essential to change our ways and consume less energy. We’re here to assist – making it easier for the public to locate the information, tools and tech they need to cut out the carbon.
Make a contribution to Net Zero
There are numerous things you can do at home to lower your carbon. Small adjustments can make the biggest difference in your carbon footprint
Warm your home in a low carbon way
Cut your home’s carbon footprint and cut down on your energy bills by using electric heating and insulation.
The use of electric vehicles and other vehicles (EVs) can reduce the carbon emissions of Britain. We’ve got everything you’ll need to be electric: leasing deals as well as home charging points, and electric vehicle tariffs that fit your lifestyle.
Make sure you have a smart meter
Smart meters track the energy you use in real-time, showing you what you’re using, and at what time it’s in pounds and pounds.