What is the Global Energy Mix?
There are many different types of energy that each country uses to meet their global energy demand and electricity production needs. This is why it is called the global energy mix because a mixture of energy is used. Energy consumption varies between countries, with the primary energy being fossil fuels, which dominate the global primary energy consumption by approximately 80% and this is why sustainable development is needed for energy usage.
Types of Energy Included in the Global Energy Mix
We have mentioned fossil fuels making up a lot of the world’s total energy percentage. Still, as mentioned before, there are many other sources of energy. They also have different impacts on the environment, so let’s see what the different types are and how they impact the environment:
- Fossil Fuels (coal, oil and gas, specifically natural gas) – this releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and causes a lot of greenhouse gas to be released.
- Nuclear Energy – the radioactive waste thrown away from a power plant is hazardous and needs to be disposed of carefully.
- Water Waves – a clean energy with minimal impact on our environment or climate change.
- Tides – the tidal barrages necessary to produce the energy can block sewage that goes out to sea, affecting the local habitats.
- Hydroelectricity – like tide energy, large areas need to be flooded to build dams that affect local habitats.
- Sun – a clean energy with minimal impact on our environment or climate change.
- Geothermal – a clean energy with minimal impact on our environment or climate change.
- Wind Power – windmills take up large areas to produce energy which could otherwise be used for farming.
- Biofuel – minimal impact on our environment due to being carbon neutral; however, trees should always be replanted to replace any wood being cut.
The History of the Global Energy Mix
Historically, the primary energy people commonly used was biomass. This source of energy came from charcoal, crop waste, and wood chips (and we can help with that!). But when the historical trends of the Industrial Revolution rose, the burning of fossil fuels started to be used over biomass, taking away from our sustainable development. However, our energy transition took an even more significant step back in protecting our environment when we switched to energy coming from nuclear power in the 1960s.
Luckily, we are starting to produce more clean energy using renewable sources again now to meet sustainable energy policies. Fossil fuels are still the primary energy in energy consumption and significant amounts of carbon dioxide produced from them are impacting climate change. This is for several reasons, but primarily our global population growth.
How Much of the UK’s Energy is Renewable in the Global Energy Mix?
Electricity generation in the United Kingdom outperformed fossil fuels for the first time in 2020 and became our primary energy mix. This was mainly achieved with wind power, and it powered half the country’s energy use.
43% of our energy came from renewable sources, whereas fossil fuels only provided 38.5%
Looking at renewable energy, 24.2% of it that contributed to UK electricity power was from wind power. The rest came from a mixture of nuclear and renewable sources.
How Has the Covid-19 Changed Our Global Energy Mix?
You might have already spotted the correlation between the UK’s contribution to the global consumption of energy and how the positive changes started in 2020 when lockdown began.
The covid-19 pandemic reduced industrial electricity demand when lockdown occurred in 2020. The generation of electricity from all sources fell by 3.7% compared to the amount of energy consumption in 2019.
In the first quarter of 2020, the government provided information to show how energy consumption had lowered due to the covid-19 restrictions because of the reduced demand for electricity production. Industrial electricity use dropped by 2.1%, and other commercial places such as offices, shops, restaurants, and other public buildings decreased by 4.6%. When nobody can go out to businesses as often, the need for electricity is unnecessary, and the statistics back up that statement looking at energy transition.
On the other hand, growth in renewable energy capacity went up by 1.5%. Although it is a small amount of clean energy, it was a big step for sustainable long-term energy.
Looking at 2020 and moving forward to 2021, the total energy production in the first quarter of this year was the equivalent of 29.7 million tonnes of oil (we are using this equivalent as there are many forms of a unit of energy, and it can be slightly confusing!)
The production of all types of fuels fell in the first quarter of 2021. The most likely reasoning behind this fall is still due to reduced demands. Also, the delayed maintenance activity of gaining fossil fuels and nuclear power in power stations during the covid-19 pandemic means demands cannot be met with these types of energy now.
Unfortunately, this also occurred for renewable energy sources. At the beginning of 2021, UK weather conditions were not favourable for wind power, solar, and hydro energy.
The last notable thing to occur in the covid-19 pandemic is a slight increase in the use and capacity of bioenergy, primarily due to municipal solid waste boosting generation. The decrease in landfill gas generation also means lower extraction rates, which unfortunately offsets the increase in bioenergy capacity. Despite this, there is still a 0.5% positive increase.
How Will Biomass Help the UK’s Global Energy Mix Become More Sustainable?
Historical trends in the past ten years, caused 85% of the country’s coal mines to retire, leaving only two coal power stations in the UK and so there is much less energy coming from a coal power plant. On the other hand, biomass power stations are reaching an all-time high. They are likely to continue growing as a new biomass unit combined with heat power is on its way.
Biomass power only makes up 2% of the world’s total energy source. This is also higher in Europe, especially in Sweden and Denmark, which have very high power production with municipal electricity power.
But focusing on the UK, we have increased our biomass energy production by three times the amount it was a decade ago. Due to this, the UK has played a significant role in the sustainability criteria that govern biomass use around the world. This initiative is known as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). Carbon capture is the process of capturing carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere, transporting it, and storing it.
It outlines the versatility of biomass and how it can contribute to the decarbonisation of electricity production and sustainable development (through carbon capture). The Climate Change Committee has fully backed the BECCS initiative, describing it as a necessity for going net zero and lowering global emissions of carbon in the future.
It is well-known that sustainable biomass as renewable energy is the most versatile form of low carbon renewable energy.
The UK government is already releasing more incentives to use biomass to fuel electricity, heating, and transportation to follow global energy policies. This has supported the increase in operating and installing low carbon heating technologies by incentivising the switch to systems that use renewable energy sources. It has aided in creating a range of heating applications at various scales, including domestic and non-domestic wood boilers, biomass with combined heat and power and anaerobic digestion.
The UN Global Sustainable Development Goals also lists many energy policies relating to changing our energy usage to more sustainable energy. They continually work with international energy agencies to ensure these targets are met by 2030. We have previous blog posts about affordable clean energy and sustainable cities and communities if you want to know about more specific topics.
Can Woodyfuel Help with the Global Energy Mix?
As a biomass fuel supplier, we like to believe we are helping with changing the percentage of energy generation towards sustainable development, even if it is just a drop in the ocean, considering it includes the entire world! The sustainable and efficient green energy we provide comes in the form of wood chips and pellets, and brash supply.
If you want to move towards sustainable energy sources, biomass is an excellent choice due to its versatility and low carbon footprint. You can help the environment and increase biomass production to higher the global energy mix percentage. Call us today to find out more!