If we are to get off our current fossil fuel addiction we need a plan for
radical action. And the plan needs to add up. The plan also needs a
political and financial roadmap. Politics and economics are not part of this
book’s brief, so here I will simply discuss what the technical side of a plan
that adds up might look like.
There are many plans that add up. In this chapter I will describe five.
Please don’t take any of the plans I present as “the author’s recommended
solution.” My sole recommendation is this:
Make sure your policies include a plan that adds up!
Each plan has a consumption side and a production side: we have to
specify how much power our country will be consuming, and how that
power is to be produced. To avoid the plans’ taking many pages, I deal
with a cartoon of our country, in which we consume power in just three
forms: transport, heating, and electricity. This is a drastic simplification,
omitting industry, farming, food, imports, and so forth. But I hope it’s
a helpful simplification, allowing us to compare and contrast alternative
plans in one minute. Eventually we’ll need more detailed plans, but today,
we are so far from our destination that I think a simple cartoon is the best
way to capture the issues.
I’ll present a few plans that I believe are technically feasible for the UK
by 2050. All will share the same consumption side. I emphasize again,
this doesn’t mean that I think this is the correct plan for consumption, or
the only plan. I just want to avoid overwhelming you with a proliferation
of plans. On the production side, I will describe a range of plans using
different mixes of renewables, “clean coal,” and nuclear power.
The current situation in our cartoon country is as follows. Transport (of
both humans and stuff) uses 40 kWh/d per person. Most of that energy is
currently consumed as petrol, diesel, or kerosene. Heating of air and water
uses 40 kWh/d per person. Much of that energy is currently provided by
natural gas. Delivered electricity amounts to 18 kWh/d/p and uses fuel
(mainly coal, gas, and nuclear) with an energy content of 45 kWh/d/p.
The remaining 27 kWh/d/p goes up cooling towers (25 kWh/d/p) and is
lost in the wires of the distribution network (2 kWh/d/p). The total energy
input to this present-day cartoon country is 125 kWh/d per person.