Greener energy is on the horizon...
With the Gulf of Mexico oil slick growing in size daily, and roughly 5000 to 70000 barrels of deepsea crude gushing into the fragile eco-system, eyes have turned to alternative renewable energy, and how it can be utilised to avoid such reliance on fossil fuels; and prevent another sickening oil spillage that destroys livelihoods and wildlife.
The problem is that the infrastructure is designed almost exclusively for fossil fuels, and overcoming the world's reliance on oil and coal will mean a global effort. After all, currently wind and solar energy generates under two percent of total global energy production; a measly proportion if the world is going to turn its back on fossil fuel and champion alternative renewable energy.
Desertec: Alternative renewable energy
But there are alternative energy bright spots, like the North African Dersertec initiative to power Europe and Africa, and various wind farms springing up across several coastal locations throughout Europe.
And according to a milestone report from a coalition of government and industry organisations, the North Sea could provide a major boost for alternative renewable energy. Traditionally a rugged and windy environment, the North Sea could provide the equivalent of a billion barrels of oil a year in renewable energy according to the report.
The Offshore Valuation report, published today by the Offshore Valuation Group, is the first comprehensive valuation of the UK's offshore renewable energy resource over the long-term that explicitly assesses electricity exports to Europe.
Britain has always been presumed to have a vast alternative renewable energy resource, which was confirmed by the report. Those represented within the report was a collaboration of UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, The Crown Estate and eight companies across the energy sector.
The report is a bright spot for the alternative renewable energy sector, and projects to create 145,000 new jobs, produce the equivalent of a billion barrels of oil annually, reduce carbon emissions relative to 1990 levels by 30 percent and enable Britain to become a net exporter of electricity by 2050.
To enable such capacity, alternative energy would need to be produced using offshore wind, tidal stream, tidal range, and wave technologies. If the report is accurate, the energy produced would equal the current energy being produced by fossil fuels from the North Sea.
Tim Helweg-Larsen, Director of PIRC, commented: "This report seeks to present to the UK the true value of an energy resource right on our doorstep - at a time when concerns over security of supply and climate change are ever-present.
"To discover that we own a resource with the potential to return the UK to being a net power exporter, and on a sustainable basis, is genuinely exciting, and a wake-up call to those in a position to foster the further development of this industry."
David MacKay, Chief Scientific Advisor at DECC, said: "Britain's huge offshore energy resource is dominated by wind: offshore wind farms occupying a sea-area the size of Wales would deliver more electricity than Britain's average electricity consumption today.
"The key question is what building and maintaining these wind turbines and their associated energy-storage and delivery systems would cost, in material and financial terms. For me, this helpful work brings home the crucial value of investment in innovation in wind machine designs, in floating wind turbine prototypes, in tidal stream, and in novel energy storage systems."
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