What are the economic and environmental issues of energy production?
There is a range of economic and environmental challenges and benefits to the different types of energy production.
Opportunities and challenges emerge when exploiting new or existing sources of energy. The impacts of developing or expanding the use of an energy source come with economic costs and environmental impacts.
There are some estimates that the Uk has enough coal to last between two to three hundred years. Rather than importing coal from other countries, why not mine the coal that exists within the UK? The North Sea has provided a significant amount of oil and gas, so why don’t we seek to explore new locations to find further reserves?
The UK produces around 18 per cent of its energy by nuclear power, which is a fall from 25 per cent in the late 1990s. All nuclear energy plants were due to be decommissioned by 2023. However, new-generation nuclear power plants will be built and commissioned by 2025. Many people see nuclear power as a clean form of energy production and believe that its use will help the UK meet its CO2 emissions targets. However, there are significant risks associated with nuclear energy production, including storing or disposing of radioactive waste and the risk of meltdown.
The use of renewable energy is seen as a significant solution to maintaining the supply of electricity in the future. For example, significant investment has been made in offshore wind farms off the Holderness Coast. However, there are considerable concerns about the visual impact of wind farms. A recent application to construct an off-shore wind farm on the Dorset Coast was turned down as it is a World Heritage site. Wind farms must be constructed in exposed locations to maximise their exposure to wind. It causes conflict because these places often have a high scenic value.
Fracking is increasingly being explored as a method of extracting gas that is trapped in rocks deep below the surface of the Earth. Fracking involves injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals at high pressure into a hole drilled into the rock, causing the rock to split and release gas. This method of extraction has been used in the North Sea oil and gas fields for many years.
There are a number of areas where fracking is being considered. These include Yorkshire, Lancashire and the East Midlands.
The economic and environmental challenges and opportunities of fracking include:
Fracking can bring several economic benefits, including:
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