Friday, 30 March 2012

2011: A bad year for UK energy production

DECC has just released it's latest Energy Trends publication, including statistics for 2011 as a whole, as well as for the fourth quarter of that year. It's not looking good....

Here's some lines form their summary page, and comments from me:

Total energy production was a record 13½ per cent lower than in 2010.
Note the word 'record' in there - and that's from DECC, not from me. It's a bit alarming that over a decade after the UK's peak in oil and gas production, that we're hitting new record percentage declines in energy output. Of course, there are other factors as well as the stuff simply running out, but we have to assume they'll come along every year anyway - like the leak at the Elgin platform right now.

Oil production was 17½ per cent lower than in 2010, the lowest level of production since the 1970s and part of a long downward trend.
Another shockingly steep decline in output...

Natural gas production was 21 per cent lower than in 2010. In 2011 gross imports of natural gas were greater than gross production for the first time since 1967, with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) accounting for 47 per cent of gas imports.
Just to underline this, as they don't spell it out very clearly. In 2011 the UK imported more gas than it produced. Half of these imports were LNG, which is traded globally and can easily be diverted to where the price is higher.

Coal production was ½ per cent lower than in 2010. Coal imports were 23 per cent higher.
Nothing new here, continuing the trend of growing imports.

Total primary energy consumption for energy uses fell by 7½ per cent from 2010. When adjusted to take account of weather differences between 2010 and 2011, primary consumption fell by 2 per cent.
We all remember how cold it was in both early and late 2010, so it's not surprising to see a fall in energy consumption in 2011. But after allowing for that, consumption still fell 2%, probably because the economy is still struggling here, and less money means spending less on stuff, including energy.

Low carbon electricity’s share of generation increased from 23 per cent in 2010 to 28½ per cent in 2011, due to higher renewables and nuclear generation. Renewables’ share of generation increased by 2½ percentage points on 2010 to a record 9½ per cent.
The one positive bit I could find in there... It's good to see renewable electricity climbing quickly here, though it's important to note that this includes landfill gas and co-firing with coal. Most of the increase came from wind and hydro though, as it was wetter and windier in 2011 than 2010.

I wonder what 2012 will bring? We already have the Elgin gas leak and RWE and E.On pulling out of new nuclear plants....



  1. Since when was nuclear low carbon?

    1. It's not - I'm just quoting the DECC publication.