Hong Kong’s power consumption is about 80 kWh/d/p.

The message I take from these country comparisons is that the UK is a
fairly typical European country, and therefore provides a good case study
for asking the question “How can a country with a high quality of life get
its energy sustainably?”

Green reflections

People often say that Britain has plenty of renewables. Have I been mean to
green? Are my numbers a load of rubbish? Have I underestimated sus-
tainable production? Let’s compare my green numbers first with several
estimates found in the Sustainable Development Commission’s publication
The role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy. Reducing CO2
emissions – nuclear and the alternatives
. Remarkably, even though the
Sustainable Development Commission’s take on sustainable resources is very
positive (“We have huge tidal, wave, biomass and solar resources”), all the
estimates in the Sustainable Development Commission’s document are
smaller than mine!
(To be precise, all the estimates of the renewables total
are smaller than my total.) The Sustainable Development Commission’s
publication gives estimates from four sources detailed below (IEE, Tyndall,
IAG, and PIU). Figure 18.6 shows my estimates alongside numbers from
these four sources and numbers from the Centre for Alternative Technology
(CAT). Here’s a description of each source.

IEEThe Institute of Electrical Engineers published a report on renewable
energy in 2002 – a summary of possible contributions from renew-
ables in the UK. The second column of figure 18.6 shows the “technical
potential” of a variety of renewable technologies for UK electricity
generation – “an upper limit that is unlikely ever to be exceeded
even with quite dramatic changes in the structure of our society and
economy.” According to the IEE, the total of all renewables’ technical
potential is about 27 kWh/d per person.

Figure 18.5. Hong Kong. Photo by Samuel Louie and Carol Spears.