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Coal and gas consumption

August 20, 2010

Coal was the first fossil fuel used in the UK. Initially it was just to heat our homes, but the Industrial Revolution saw the use steam powered machinery increase dramatically which resulted in an increase in demand and price. However our dependency on coal has dropped significantly since the discovery of natural gas.

Coal-and-gas-consumption

Gas

Globally we use 2726.1 Mtoe (Million Tons of Oil Equivalent) of natural gas every day. Proven reserves currently stand at 185.02 trillion cubic metres.

The UK accounts for 3% of the world’s gas consumption and has proven reserves of 0.34 trillion cubic metres. This means the UK uses more gas than it can produce, therefore the UK imports gas from overseas and is a ‘Net Energy Importer.’

Coal

Coal was the first fossil fuel used in the UK. Initially it was just to heat our homes but the Industrial Revolution saw steam powered machinery increase dramatically which led to an increase in demand and price. For the first time processes changed from small scale to mass production. Coal only became used for electrical generation later on in our history purely as a by-product.

However our dependency upon coal has dropped significantly since the discovery of natural gas. In 1990, 31% of our electricity came from coal with 24% coming from gas. By 2001, gas fired power stations supplied 40% of the UK’s energy whilst coal had dropped to 17%.

The map featured above shows the locations of the remaining coal fired power plants in the UK which provide around 25-30% of the electricity we use today, gas powered plants have risen to a 46% share in electrical generation.

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