Future energy – what will it be like?

May 28, 2012, 12:12 PM GMT+0

With approximately a quarter of Britain’s current power stations coming to the end of their expected operational lifespan, we invited you to look to the future to tell us - which energy source you’d most like to see being used by 2022, and why?

Imagine the British landscape ten years from now. What energy sources do you think we’ll be using?

In recent weeks, YouGov’s polling of UK public opinion for Friends of the Earth found that 26% of British adults would like to see the nation become more reliant on wave or tidal energy in a decade's time, while 22% would support the rolling out of nuclear power, and 21% who would like more solar power being used.

And when we invited you to discuss the same question in Labs, your preferences followed suit, with wave or tidal power being the most popular choice among those taking part.

Many participants noted the UK’s natural advantage as an island with easy access to wave power, which they felt was one of the more reliable low-carbon energy-generation choices. (The word cloud below gives you a picture of what wave and tidal's champions in Labs had to say about these energy sources.)

Nuclear energy was the second most popular choice among our participants. Those who hope to see Britain turning more to nuclear power argued it was the most robust option for responding to the nation's increasing energy demands.

Coal and gas were the energy sources our participants selected least often, although those in favour of these sectors saw similar benefits to both – particularly the fact that we have our own reserves, and would therefore (they reasoned) not need to rely on imports.

Which energy source do you think the UK should be using most in 10 years’ time?

Do you agree or disagree with the views expressed here? Have your say below.

We asked: Which of the following types of energy source would you MOST like to see being used more in 10 years’ time?

Here are the range of comments made by those who took part:

Wave/tidal power

“The tide comes in and goes out twice a day, so it is not dependent on a moderate wind or a sunny day to produce the optimum amount of electricity” Anon

“It is predictable and low carbon. It holds the potential for UK to become a world leader in the technologyAnon

This sort of energy infrastructure would be long-term, with installations expected to last over 100 years, rather than the 30-40 years of conventional power plants” ED, Northampton

“It will be pollution-free with no foreseeable loss of resources. It can be done on a national level – the UK is an island surrounded by water” Damian S, Bridgend

“As an island it is an easily accessible resource, and constantly available without too much risk of pollution, or accidents with chemicals etc.” Anon

“Wave/tidal energy seems to be the most sustainable and least intrusive on the environment with less eyesore to the local areas. With a good design their locations could become iconic, like the Thames BarrierMichel S, Burwell

Nuclear power

“It’s cleaner than fossil fuels, and more reliable than wind. It also boosts local economies where the plants are constructed” Dee D, Yorkshire

“We need something to bridge a transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and nuclear is the best option for that. It is not entirely risk-free but its risks have been greatly exaggerated” Tom A, Doncaster

Nuclear power is still a relatively safe method of energy production. We are not prone to earthquakes or tsunamis. It is energy efficient, as it produces more power than solar, wind power etc.” Anon

“It’s clean and efficient – the dangers are minimal – and it ensures a plentiful supply for the foreseeable futureRob, Barnstaple

“I'm all for other renewables being used to add to primarily the domestic market, but we need a reliable, relatively clean, self-contained source of fuel as a matter of national securityAnon

“It is the only one that can provide us with enough power for our future energy requirements” Anon

Solar power

Solar is the least invasive option, everyone could have panels on their roofs right across the country. The key to make it work will be being able to charge batteries which can then be used throughout the night or in times of heavy cloudLeon, Sheffield

“It is a very easy option to use on existing houses and can be easily installedMo, Doncaster

“It should be compulsory for all new homes to add solar panels. All workplaces should have themKW, Oxford

“The technology is improving all the time and the capital outlay to harvest it is significantly less than for any other energy source. It can be localised to where required easily and discretelyMike H, Hampshire

“It doesn't cause noise like wind turbines, modern photo voltaic panels work even with typical British weather. And as a double glazing sales manager I can see some great business opportunities!” Paul S, Leigh on Sea

“Maybe in 10 years’ time

they can build houses where the roofs ARE solar panels

. That would at the very least cut back the electric bill”


Wind power

“Britain is pretty windy, and so tapping into that source is only logicalAnon

“Wind energy is clean, renewable, and there is genuinely a strong possibility that we could use it far more if we got over our own NIMBYismJosie, Leeds

We might as well use the fact we are an island with rubbish weather to our advantage and make energy affordable for all” Jayne, Mansfield

“It is the best source of renewable energy. It has a low pay-back time, no impact on the environment, and provides extra revenue for struggling farmers” Anon

“The technology to provide wind energy is readily available now, we should use it. Wind farms are not a blight on the landscape! They are serene and elegantAnon

“Because of the UK's long coastline

I think it would be the most effective



“We still have lots of coal and its much cleaner to burn than it used to be” JN

“It’s cheapest, we don't have to import any of it, and we have 100+ years of it left” Anon

“I want the coal industry to be given more attention because of its cheap source and availability. It will also create employmentAnon

“I am an ex-miner and there is enough coal to last 200 years, thousands of jobs could be created and as many again in supply services. It would be a lift to our economyAnon, Hartlepool

“It would create much needed jobs

and revitalise former mining communities

FK, Wiltshire


“With fracking [for shale gas] we should have enough gas for several decades. And this is a lot cleaner than current coal stationsAnon

“With the shale gas deposits in this country, it has the potential to be the cheapest, most reliable and secure energy source availableNick, Brentwood

“It works, is cheap and is not dependent on massive tax payer subsidyPaul B

“A new deposit of natural gas is discovered every week in some part of the world. I cannot see why the Green people do not want it developed. Natural gas has come down in price, for consumers, in every country it has been developedAnthony, Neath

Which energy source do you think the UK should be using most in 10 years’ time?

Do you agree or disagree with the views expressed here? Have your say below.

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