Thursday, 23 February 2012

Record drop in UK energy production in 2011

DECC has just released some preliminary information on UK energy statistics for 2011 (download here). Here's the headlines for you:

  • primary energy production fell by a record 14 per cent on a year earlier
  • petroleum [crude oil] was down by 17 per cent
  • gas production down by 20 per cent
  • nuclear output was up 11 per cent, due to increased availability following a number of outages in 2010
  • wind output from major power producers was up by 59 per cent on additional capacity and higher wind speeds
  • hydro up by 70 per cent following strong rainfall in Northern Scotland
  • primary energy consumption was down by 7 per cent, and on a temperature adjusted basis, was down 2 per cent continuing the downward trend of the last five years.

The falling energy use (after temperature adjustment) is not really down to efficiency, though that may play a part, it's down to continuing low economic activity - it's no coincidence the trend's been going on since 2007, when the overhang of debt in the world economy finally started crumbling under the weight of high oil prices. But at least there's some good news on increasing renewable generation from wind and hydro, even if it did only contribute about 9% of electricity in Q3 2011, or about 1.25% of total energy (from here) Actually, the quarterly data for Q3 is more alarming than the year as a whole, so it'll be interesting to see the data for Q4 when it comes out in late March. For example:
  • Total energy production was a record 19 per cent lower than in the third quarter of 2010... which resulted in net import dependency of 42 per cent, a record high.
  • Oil production fell by 22½ per cent when compared with the third quarter of 2010. This is the largest annual quarterly decrease since quarterly reporting began in 1995, and reflects near record decreases in crude oil production and record decreases in NGL production.
  • Natural gas production was 29½ per cent lower than the third quarter of 2010. This is the lowest quarterly production as well as the largest year-on-year quarterly decrease since quarterly reporting began in 1998. Gas imports increased by 33½ per cent, with shipped imports of LNG accounting for nearly half of all imports.
  • Coal production in the third quarter of 2011 was 10½ per cent lower than the third quarter of 2010.
Good job we've had a mild winter, or we might have been in a bit of trouble...


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