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EPQ: CAN WIND

TURBINES OR FRACKING
BE THE SOLUTION TO
UKS ENERGY CRISIS?
Alice Cheng

Abstract
The aim of this project is to comparatively analyse
Wind energy and Shale gas to find out the better
solution to Britains energy crisis. Currently, Britain
may be facing an energy crisis as the demand for
energy increases, but the supply of fossil fuels are
decreasing. This meant that alternative fuels needs
to be found. The two alternatives Ive chosen are
Wind Energy and Shale Gas. However, wind energy
is currently underdeveloped, whilst shale gas could
potentially have catastrophic economic and
environmental consequences if not handled
properly. Ive concluded that although fracking
provides Britain with domestic energy resources,
Britains geological location is better suited for
wind, hence making wind a better solution for the
energy crisis.

An energy crisis can be defined as either an inefficient supply of energy


over demand or a large rise in energy price 1. There is a concern that Britain may
reach energy crisis through the increasing dependency on gas supplies
(appendix 1) for the past 40 years.
Moreover, the margin between supply and peak demand is narrowing; if
peak demand exceeds the supply of energy, the UK may have either to import
fuel from abroad or lose energy security which can lead to an energy crisis. This
meant that Britain will need to find alternative energy sources to the
conventional fossil fuels as the solutions to combat the energy crisis, to lower
costs of energy and to increase energy supply to meet the demand.
Nevertheless, solutions to this problem may be difficult to find, as a good
source of energy need to be both efficient in providing energy, readily available,
and economical for companies to obtain a stable profit. Out of the several
solutions to this issue, renewable energy and hydraulic fracturing are amongst
them as both are showing promising potentials in their ability to aid energy
supply in Britain.
The main supply of renewable energy in the UK is Wind Power, supplying
approximately 3% of UKs total energy. As a main source of renewable in the UK,
it may not be difficult to aid Britains energy supply with wind energy. However,
issues such as reliability can have a negative impact on Britains energy supply,
while social impacts with neighbouring sites may prevent wind from producing
enough power output to meet the demands, thus not being able to meet the
energy crisis.
On the other hand, shale gas could also be a solution. As UK is rich in shale
gas reserves, shale is unlikely to run out during our lifetime, and profit gained
from local reserves can improve UKs current economy. Nevertheless, the ethical,
economic and environmental issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing can put
Britain at risk, preventing it from being utilised on a larger scale, which could
lead to the likelihood of shale gas being unable to aid the supply of energy to
meet Britains energy demand.
In my dissertation, I will compare and discuss the methods of generating
energy between Wind Energy and Hydraulic Fracturing of shale gas along with
their possible effects on Britains energy prices and supply, before concluding on
which is potentially the better solution to Britains energy crisis.
Wind Energy why is it good?
Wind energy converts kinetic energy from wind into electrical energy using
electromagnetic induction (appendix 2). As an island nation, wind is very
abundant; Britain one of the windiest places in Europe, accounting for 40% of all

1 SEWTHA P5

of the wind in this continent2. As a renewable resource, wind will be abundant for
millions of years while the wind speed will stay relatively constant; if this energy
can be fully harnessed in the UK, by further developments efficient wind turbines
in the future, Britain is unlikely to experience an energy crisis in the long term.
As previously mentioned, wind is considered the most reliable forms of
renewable energy. Wind turbines are strategically placed around the United
Kingdom to provide maximum energy output reducing the cost per energy
output. An average onshore wind turbine will occupy approximately 4050 square
meters producing around 2.5 3 megawatts (2.5 3 million watts) of power,
generating significantly more power output than other renewables. Through the
numerical comparisons with solar panels, the power generated by one industrial
wind turbine equates to 12,760 efficient solar panels (appendix 3), and takes
three time less space. A smaller area occupied means that there will be room for
other developments to take place to aid the local economy, which can increase
the affordability of energy in the UK as a better economy meant higher income
for the working population, which decreases the likelihood of an occurrence of
energy crisis from energy prices becoming too unaffordable.
Wind turbines, unlike most other energy generators, allows local
developments to continue, such as farming and tourism. Over the past decade,
the noise produced from wind turbines have been reduced significantly to low
frequency sounds as a result of strict regulations limits the noise pollution and
the size of 3 the development of wind turbines. This allows the sustainable
development of wind energy without the hindrance of the social-economic
developments within local, usually rural, areas, which reduces tension with the
locals within the area and increases the support for energy, leading to further
development of more efficient turbines. The way that agricultural developments
can continue in the area also meant that Britains domestic food supply will not
be affected as a result of the increasing number of turbines built to meet the
national demands, making wind energy a reliable source of energy in the long
term.
On top of this, the average energy production is consistent as excess
energy can be stored in the national grid for 6-10 years 4, with batteries or the
CAES systems5 (compressed air energy storage systems) hence wind energy
stored from periods with strong winds can compensate for the periods of time
with weaker or no winds, meaning a consistent supply of energy can be
generated to help to meet the demands for electricity in Britain. This is especially
2 http://www.britishwindenergy.co.uk/benefits-of-wind-energy.html
3 This varies with location, proximity with the nearest neighbourhood, and the size wind farms
4

http://agonist.org/education/energy/how-is-wind-energy-stored

5 http://www.ewea.org/wind-energy-basics/faq/

useful as the tailing hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean creates huge gusts of
wind which can create very high wind speeds, hence generating lots of energy.
This can help to solve the energy crisis in the short-term as the excess stored
energy can also be used as a backup when energy has reached beyond the usual
demand.
Moreover, wind farms can be built on various scales differing from a small
roof generator to a large scale offshore turbines. The excess power produced by
the smaller turbines for private uses can be transmitted and sold to the national
grid, increasing energy supply for the national grid. If this takes place for a
greater population, there will be more energy sold to the national grid, while a
greater population will benefit from independent energy supplies, resulting in a
lower demand compared to supply in energy, ultimately increasing the supply of
energy within the UK.
Furthermore, wind power generates power 70 -85% of the time in the UK
and has a relatively high efficiency 6. The efficiency of wind generated can be
shown through its load factor - the efficiency of energy production. The load
factor of onshore wind is 33%, compared to the average load factor for nuclear,
coal and gas is 53%7; high efficiency from a generator meant a higher proportion
of energy produced with the same energy input, giving a lower price for energy
in the UK. Economically speaking, this can subside the costs of electricity across
the country by 6 per household8, which is approximately 133 830 000 saved
when multiplied by the approximate number of 220 305 000 households 9 in the
UK. In the long term, the subsidised cost ought to increase as the British
population increases, the cost per turbine cheapens and the efficiency of
turbines increases.
Wind Turbines - Concerns
Aside from the environmental problems of wind such as annual deaths of
birds, one of the major concerns about wind turbines not being able to be its
cost. The cheapest type of wind turbines is often building mounted turbines
which cost around 10 000. The power output can reach up to 2.5 kilowatts,
where savings made from this is not enough to pay back the costs of installing
and maintaining the turbine itself. Larger turbines (1.5 3 megawatts) cost
considerably more; wind turbines with diameter of 80-100 meters cost 2 3.3
million to purchase, and requires regular maintenance costs are ranging from 3
600- 102 000 per turbine per year (where costs vary with size). There is a total
6 http://www.british-wind.co.uk/wind_myths.html
7 http://www.british-wind.co.uk/wind_myths.html
8 https://www.gov.uk/onshore-wind-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix
9 http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=6118&pageid=35437&e=e

of 6037 wind turbines in Britain, meaning 10 billion is required for the start-up
cost. As for the maintenance cost, the total maintenance cost for all turbines in
the UK is approximately 300 million per year (appendix 4). These values do not
include the costs of transportation, set up or unexpected maintenance costs from
damages caused by storms and strong winds, which will make the costs for wind
energy even higher. Comparing this to the government budget for the increasing
renewable energy (40 billion for projects up to 2020 10), approximately onequarter of the budget planned for 2020 has already been spent on wind energy 11.
Despite the fact that wind turbines run 75-85% of the time, they do not
always run at peak wind capacity. The wind speed fluctuates seasonally
(appendix 5), with lowest winds through June to August, and higher winds from
January to March, and October to December within the 10-year average. This
varies largely with the 2014 monthly average, where large fluctuations of wind
speed are shown through the winter months, between January to March, and
September to December. Meanwhile the cut in speed (the wind speed required
for the turbines to generate electricity) is at 10mph. The fluctuations in wind
speeds throughout the years meant the demands of energy may not be fully met
in the summer months, making wind energy a less reliable option.
Moreover, the average wind speed12 across the past 10 years is
approximately 9 knots, which is 10.4mph. This figure alone shows that wind
turbines can power the appliances in the UK, but cannot be solely relied upon for
generating sufficient energy to power the homes of Britain, as the minimum wind
speed required for maximum energy output is 29.1mph. Nevertheless, the
average figure is lower than whats usually considered due to the uneven
distribution of wind speed within the UK (appendix 6), as large amounts of
onshore wind turbines in Britain are located near the coast and on the hills,
where wind speed is high enough to generate enough power output to provide
sufficient energy to keep energy affordable. This meant it is unrealistic to use
calculations with the assumptions of having wind turbines covering the majority
of land in Britain, as an estimate of 10% can be available for use of wind
turbines. This meant that although wind power has a high load factor (33%), the
number of wind farms is restricted, and the power output will not be able to
match the current output, even with additional turbines.
Furthermore, during periods of low or no wind, fossil fuel power plants are
required as a backup the energy source. This raises the question of whether wind
energy is fully carbon free as on top of fuel provided by fossil fuel sources, as the
10 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/record-investments-of-40-billion-in-renewable-electricity-to-bringgreen-jobs-and-growth-to-the-uk

11 This can be an overestimate; although a significant number of turbines have been built after the budget is
set, a few turbines are built prior to that year (2013) which is not included in my calculations due to practical
reasons. Nevertheless, an approximation of one quarter should still be a valid estimate.

12 Calculated using the approximate figures on the graph of average wind speed within the appendix

process of extracting materials, manufacturing and transportation requiring fossil


currently requires fossil fuels. Ignoring the effect of wind on climate change, the
fact that wind power is somewhat reliant on fossil fuels as a backup means that
wind may not be able to significantly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels,
which can be a problem once the oil and gas run out. If this is the case, the
supply of energy will drop during periods with low or no winds, hence without
other forms of energy as backup, Britain could be in an energy crisis.
Additionally, people find wind turbines as unsightly which can disrupt the
local tourist industry, meaning fewer locations are available for wind turbines to
be built thus less energy generated. A recent self-made survey has shown that
although 65% of all participants support the wind energy overall, only 45%
people would support the project if it were to be carried out in their area,
showing a 20% decrease in the level of support. This meant that although
onshore wind turbines are well supported, people are generally less supportive of
wind energy near their area. Taking this on a larger scale, a 20% decrease of
support for a wind farm can also be shown by the fact that 6 put of 10 projects
proposals for wind farms are rejected13 due to a lack of local support for the same
reason as mentioned before, which can be one of the biggest hindrances to an
increase of reliability of wind energy. Tackling this problem can take a long time
as a large group of the British population are associated and can be hard to
persuade. This could mean wind energy is not fit for the short-term solution of
Britains energy crisis if the growth of 43% of what can be potentially achieved,
as the supply of energy from wind energy simply cannot grow fast enough to
meet the growing energy demands in the UK.
Offshore solution?
Some may argue that due to the developing technologies, bigger turbines
can be built to meet energy demands, and more can be built offshore which will
not affect the local residents. Recent developments meant larger 7 and over
megawatt wind turbines are built, meaning a greater energy output from the
wind energy. Nevertheless, this cannot be a short-term solution to this problem
as many turbines of this size are yet to be operational. As wind speed increases
with the distance from shore, the process can become more complex and can be
extremely expensive to build and maintain. The sections of components required
for the turbines have to be preassembled before shipped to the offshore location
to be built. This process involves specialist tools and vehicles such as the sea
jack for transportation, and the crane driver for the manoeuvre of the turbines
components, where parts of the turbine, such as the windmill can reach up to
100m in radius.
Unlike onshore turbines, offshore turbines also require structures that
extend to the sea floor as the foundation of the turbine which can extend up to
200m under the surface. This further increases the labour, material and transport
cost of the turbine, as additional materials have to be shipped offshore and built,
13 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/21/six-in-10-uk-onshore-wind-farms-rejected-report

which requires various people from technical sectors such as civil and
mechanical engineers. In total, one offshore wind farm requires around 520
people, taking 1,611,360 hours to install; during this, 15 months are spent on
building the foundations of the tower for the wind turbine, requiring 350 people
to build the foundations alone14, meaning at least 10,500,000 are spent on
manual labour15in total, out of which 59.4% (6,220,000) of the money spent on
labour costs are related to building the foundation of the turbine at sea.
Shale Gas Another Alternative?
Hydraulic Fracturing, also known as fracking, is a process which involves
pumping 7 to 15 million litres of water, sand, and various substances under high
pressure (10,000 kPa) into shale rock (a fine, sedimentary rock) causing small
fractures, and releases hydrocarbons (mainly natural gas) from the rocks pores
and is collected16. This allows natural gas that previously cannot be exploited to
be obtained and used for the same purposes as the conventional natural
gasses17.
Like wind energy, the UK government has become increasingly supportive
of fracking over the recent years. Predictions have shown that the fracking
industry could potentially reduce gas prices as gas becomes slightly more
abundant. This is based on the experiences in USA, where gas prices fell
dramatically from 8.86 dollars per million BTU in 2008 to 3.73 dollars per million
BTU (British Thermal Units) in 201318, showing a 57.9% decrease while the yield
of shale gas is still relatively high comparable to the amount of fuel in the North
sea in the past. As the production of shale gas increases, the price of natural gas
will be further driven down, which can lower the possibility of energy crisis due to
energy prices being too high, as well as the increase the supply so that its less
likely that the supply will fall under demand.
Moreover, if the use of shale gas reduces the gas prices in the UK the same
way as it did in the USA in 2008, it means less dependency on other countries for
fossil fuels. Presently, amongst many other European countries, UK is
14 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14474677
15 This is calculated by multiplying the number of hours worked on the project (1,611,360) by the UKs
minimum wage (6.50, sourced from https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates), rounded to 3
significant figures. In real life, this figure would be much higher as it is very unlikely that employees are paid at
minimum wage on a project this size. This value gives an idea of the minimum amount spent on manual labour
overall.

16
http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/education/1316813/What_is_Shale_Gas_How_Does_Fracking_Work.html

17 As the USA is the biggest exploiter of shale gas, majority of models and estimations for hydraulic fracturing
is based on figures obtained from eh USA, hence this dissertation will compare fracking in USA and UK.

18 http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/rngwhhdA.htm

increasingly dependent on Russia for their gas supplies, as gas from Europe is
often sourced from Russia, which increases the money UK is investing in other
countries. Presently, our gas supplies from the North Sea is running out, shown
by the 9% decrease in 201319, and that if thats the case, 70% of gas from the UK
will have to be imported, increasing the gas price. In fact, 30% of European gas
is piped from Russia under Ukraine and rest of Europe 20; this puts the UK in a
vulnerable state as Russia has the majority of power over Europe, meaning the
security of Britains gas supply could be compromised, and political tension
occurs. If this happens, most UKs gas have to be shipped from elsewhere from
countries such as Qatar, where prices of gas will increase significantly due to
liquefaction of the gases which is an expensive process. The fact that shipping
cost is also a factor will increase the price of natural gas within the UK. All
combined, the UK is forecasted to have 75% of its gas from foreign sources by
2030, costing Britain 15 billion per year21. Nevertheless, if the exploitation of
shale gas is increased, this may be less of a concern, as domestic gas supplies
means that Britain has the full control of a large section of its gas, and the a
secure gas supply meant less chance of an energy crisis in the future.
Furthermore, while the amount of shale, gas Britain possess is uncertain, an
estimate based on similar formations in the USA have shown Britain has 37.7
tonnes of shale resources underground22enough to supply energy for the next 40
years23, assuming that all of the shale supplies can be exploited. Because of this,
there is a steady gas supply from fracking to aid conventional gas, even with the
increasing energy consumption. Whats more is that as the actual quantity of
extractable shale gas is unknown, whereby the uncertainty of the estimated
value of recoverable shale gas is high, hence it is very unlikely that shale gas can
be a long term solution.
However, the major concern with this is that shale gas, like other fossil
fuels, is a non-renewable, finite resource; natural gas currently provides one-third
of UKs energy supply as it generates energy quickly, which can meet peak
demands when needed. Although fracking can prolong the amount of time for
the use of natural gas, it is still inevitable that Britain will not have enough fossil
fuel to meet its energy demands unless alternatives are found; estimates shown
that shale gas from fracking can last 40 300 years where figures vary.
19 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldselect/ldeconaf/172/17205.htm
20 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/energy-bills/11191733/UK-gas-prices-to-soar-if-Russiacuts-off-supplies-to-Europe-National-Grid-warns.html

21 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldselect/ldeconaf/172/17205.htm
22

The percentage of economically extractable shale gas is unknown.

23 http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25180-massive-stores-of-uk-shale-gas-will-temptfrackers.html#.VTOC-iFVhBc

Nevertheless, as fracking prolongs the time of use of fossil fuels, this may mean
that more time can be spent on developing alternative fuels, which meant that
as a short to mid-term solution, fracking is a good alternative.
Nonetheless, some critiques have also shown that gas prices may not
reduce the gas prices at all. The fact that the estimates are based on systems in
USA meant it has a large uncertainty if not flawed. The geological structure is
very different from the USA, where shale gas is much more abundant in the US
than the UK. Estimates have shown that in the USA, there are 24.4 trillion cubic
metres24 of shale gas available compared to the 566 billion cubic meters of shale
gas in the UK. This meant 76 500 cubic meters of shale gas in America compared
to 8840 cubic meters of shale gas in the UK25 (appendix 7). This meant in the
USA, the volume of gas taken into account of its population is approximately 8.65
times larger than Britains reserves, meaning its much more profitable to extract
shale gas in the USA than in the UK; hence the price is lower than what can be
provided in the UK.
Likewise, In Britain, Shale rocks are thought to be deeper and harder to
gain, however, some argue that the shale is thicker, which may mean more gas
hence it has a good economic return, and could still be profitably exploited. This
further emphasised on the fact that it is difficult to predict the amount of gas
that can be commercially available and be economically extracted. It is predicted
that less than 10% of shale gas in Britain can be economically extracted, and if
the amount of shale gas present is an overestimate, Britain could face a huge
loss similar to Poland.
In 2010, Poland encouraged drilling firms into the country to explore its
domestic shale gas resources as a way to reduce dependence on Russian energy.
After 500 million26 was spent in total, seven out of eleven companies
abandoned the market as results did not meet the promising predictions made
earlier, as it will take 10 more years for fracking to meet their expectations in
Poland which is not economically viable.
Similarly, Britain could be in a similar situation as the Conservative party
strongly supports fracking in the UK, making optimistic predictions such as
energy prices will fall at the same rate as it has in the USA due to local gas
exploitation which may not be the case. In fact Britain has more similarities to
Poland compared to the United States due to its closer proximity; optimistic
predictions of shale gas quantities could provide the possibility of gaining the
same outcome as Poland which would keep energy prices the same. Whats more
is that Britain can be running at a loss if fracking is permitted on the same scale
24 http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/analysis/fracking-go-ahead-four-differences-between-usand-uk

25 For calculations, see appendix


26 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ffa09b60-6036-11e4-98e6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3XmaF4g1d

as Poland. During the exploration process, vertical test wells are drilled to see if
it is economically viable to drill within the potential area. A typical test well will
contain up to 10 wells per pad; in Poland, each well cost up to 25 million each
meaning it will cost 250 million per pad, hence if the geology in Britain is similar
or same as the geology in Poland, a total investment of 1.5 billion invested test
wells alone. On top of this investment, additional investment have to be made on
buying the land as fracking permanently changes the landform, this increases
the total cost meaning fracking may not be a cheap investment at all.
Although the investment is mainly made by independent companies, if a
similar event to Poland happened in Britain, Companies will be unlikely to invest
in Britain in the future due to the loss of profit. Since Britain has less drilling sites
than Poland, at 11 out of the planned 30 40 test wells drilled in 2015 27, whereas
6428 vertical test wells were drilled in Poland. This meant that Britain is more
likely to face the withdrawal of companies despite less financial loss as fewer
companies are investing in the shale gas industry in the UK, where 4 companies
presently drilling in Britain compared to the 11 in Poland.
Moreover, in the United States, a very little proportion of the shale gas is
exported abroad, due to a lack of pipelines29, and simply liquefying the gas is an
expensive process. This meant the shale gas produced in the USA is either stored
for a very short time or is transported locally between states which drives the
gas price down as the storage of gas requires more money to maintain than
selling the gas. On the contrary, UK has pipelines to the North Sea including
Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway which creates a bigger competition for
oils, hence oil companies within the UK can export the gas supplies at a
significantly lower price than in the US, hence country out of the four that is able
to pay the highest price gains the shale gas, which can increase the price of
shale gas within Britain.
Another major concern about fracking for shale gas is its environmental
implications. Under strict regulations and properly followed procedures, no major
environmental damage will be caused. Nevertheless, this cannot be said for sure
as Britain is at an early stage for hydraulic fracturing where much is unknown. In
2011, 50 tremors occurred in Blackpool with two tremors particularly high, one at
a magnitude of 2.3 on the first of April, and the other at a magnitude 1.4 on the
Richter scale on the twenty-second of May30. After investigation, studies have
shown the source of tremors was triggered by hydraulic fracturing by Cuadrilla
27 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/19/uk-shale-gas-revolution-falls-flat-just-11-new-wellsplanned-2015

28 http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2014/11/polish-fracking
29 http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/analysis/fracking-go-ahead-four-differences-between-usand-uk

30 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-15550458

Resources Limited at Preese Hall well. The progress in fracking from Cuadrilla
Resources was temporarily banned over 18 months after the event 31.
Although tremors are a part of the drilling process, earthquakes above 0.5
on the Richter scale exceed the limit of UKs traffic light system which reduces
the possibility of earthquakes. Unlike the USA, where fracking takes place in a
rural, relatively remotes settings, whereas fracking is closer to major cities as
major cities are denser in the UK compared to the USA.
This questions the safety of fracking which could ultimately affect whether
fracking is able to take place on a scale large enough to provide enough energy
resources to aid Britains energy crisis. Other than earthquakes, fracking injects
7-15 million litres of water containing varying types of additives ranging from 12
to 750 types of additives. Although the concentrations of the additives are
relatively low in the fracking fluid (at 0.5 to 2% 32), there are still concerns about
contamination of the fracking fluids into nearby sites and ground water and
water supplies33. In the UK, companies are required to submit their plans to be
assessed containing a hydrogeological assessment outlining the locations of how
hydraulic fracturing is carried out, and details on nearby resources underground,
such ground water and radioactive minerals.
Nevertheless, although the plan can be safe in the short-term, over time,
the safety feature can weaken, which could increase the chances of groundwater
contamination along with negative environmental effects such as deaths of
nearby plants and livestock, as well as being the cause of illnesses within nearby
residents. Due to the lack of experience on fracking in the UK, it is not known
whether the fracking fluids can cause environmental damage in the long term.
Because there are currently no regulations for the maintenance of the wells for
fracking in the UK, companies are not required to regularly carry out tests on
smaller leakages within the system which could accumulate over time and
impacting on the nearby environment. As a consequence, the risks involved in
fracking can question whether the economic benefits should take precedence
over the environmental, and health factors of the neighbouring areas, which can
ultimately determine whether fracking can be carried out in the long term, or be
discontinued, which removes the possibility of shale gas reducing the possibility
of an energy crisis in the future.
Conclusion
To conclude, although wind energy can be a reliable source of energy in the
future, it is currently intermittent and expensive; therefore it cannot be the shortterm solution to Britains energy crisis because it is unrealistic to assume that
31 http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/cuadrilla-seeks-to-establish-new-site-in-lancashire
32 https://fracfocus.org/water-protection/drilling-usage
33 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/277211/Water.pdf

large sums of investments are used during a short time period for a technology
which is currently presently cannot give enough power to aid the total energy
output to meet the demands of UK. Nevertheless, as a long term solution, wind
energy possess great potential as the cost of wind energy will gradually decrease
as its power output increases over time, which combined with its renewable
nature could aid Britains energy supply in the future.
For fracking, on the short-term there is the possibility of lowering UK gas
prices in a similar manner as the USA, Britains political and geological factors
may lead to otherwise. Britain is simply not experienced enough to give an
accurate estimation to guarantee a high rate of production of energy from
fracking while the associated risks with economic, environmental and health
factors can also affect the potential of hydraulic fracturing in the future. As
fracking is a finite resource which can run out over the next 40 200 years, it
cannot be the most reliant solution to Britains energy crisis in the future.
As stated at the beginning, an energy crisis is defined as an inefficient
supply of energy to meet the demand required. This can make the cost of energy
too expensive to be economically viable, leading to major issues such as
blackouts or the loss of energy security to foreign countries. Although fracking
potentially keeps Britain in control of its own energy resources, the potential
environmental and linked economic ramifications could be catastrophic. Wind
power, on the other hand, is technologically underdeveloped. But because of the
geological location of UK, wind is abundant, making wind energy a potential
reliable source of energy for the long term, therefore making it a better solution
to Britains Energy Crisis.

Appendix
Appendix 1 Total Primary Energy Consumption from 1970 to
2013

Appendix 2 - Wind to Electricity


Wind energy is generated when the sun heats the atmosphere of the Earth
which creates convection currents as the air heats up and becomes less dense so
it moves faster and rises to the top. As the hot air rises, the cool air quickly fills
its place due to a decrease in surrounding pressure and generates the wind 34.
The wind rotates the rotor blades of the turbines, transferring the kinetic energy
to the turbine. As the blade turns, the shaft that is connected to a gear box which
is used to increase the speed that it rotates.
Those components are then connected to a small generator, which uses
electromagnetic induction to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy 35.
This works as the generator is attached to a coil surrounded in a magnetic field
produced by strong magnets; as the turbine turns, the coil spins in the magnetic
field causing the electrons in the coil to move, hence electricity is generated. The
electricity is then passed down to the national grid with a metal brush and slip
rings attached.

34How Stuff Works, 2015, How Wind Power Works [Online], available at:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/wind-power.htm

35 Copper and Electricity, N.D., Electromagnetic Induction [Online], available at:


http://resources.schoolscience.co.uk/CDA/16plus/copelech4pg1.html

A small wind turbine is 10-20 meters tall and a medium wind turbine is 2545 meters above ground. The height differs as wind speeds are different at
different heights above ground thus generating different amounts of energy. This
is arranged to gain the most efficient energy output.
During this dissertation, I will be mainly focusing on the Horizontal Axis
Wind Turbines over Vertical Axis turbines as this is the most common form of
wind turbine in the UK36, and has a high energy output, meaning it is often used
for the national grid.
Appendix 3 - Wind VS solar
The comparison of wind power versus solar power can be shown through a
simple calculation. Using one of the most efficient models of solar panels Sharp
NU-R250 4, where one panel generates 250 watts of power. Taking the average of
2.5 and 3 to be 2.75 megawatts and dividing this by 250 watts will show that 11
000 Sharps panels produces the same amount of power as an average wind
turbine. After this, taking the dimensions of the solar panel in millimetres
(1652*994 in length and width5), and assume each panel is at 45 degree angle
from the ground, each panel will take 1.16m2 of space on the ground. This is
because:
so multiplying the length and width
will give 1.64m2, hence multiplying
1.64 to cos 45 will give 1.16m2;
multiplying this value by 11 000, the
area of the solar farm that is required
to generate the same amount of
energy as one wind turbine will be
12670m2; dividing this value by
4050m2 (the area taken by an
average wind turbine) will give you 3
times as much space taken by solar plants over wind farms.
Appendix 4 - Start-up cost of wind turbines calculations
Using the approximate range of 0.1 megawatts to 3.0 megawatts 37, Ive
found the range of start-up costs to be 250 000 to 3.3 million per turbine 38. I
have averaged the costs between 250 000 and 3.3 million to gain 1 662 500

36 Centurion Energy, N.D., Types of Wind Turbines [Online], available at: http://centurionenergy.net/types-of-wind-

turbines 4 http://www.solarenergyexperts.co.uk/buyersguides/most-efficient-solar-panels-2011/ (reference me fully)


5
http://www.sharp.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/gb/hs.xsl/-/html/product-details.htm?product=NUR250J5&cat=46000 (reference
me fully)

37 http://www.renewableuk.com/en/renewable-energy/wind-energy/uk-wind-energy-database/
38 http://www.local.gov.uk/home/-/journal_content/56/10180/3510194/ARTICLE

per turbine, and multiplied this by the number of wind turbines (6037 turbines) in
the UK to gain 10 036 512 500 pounds spent for all turbines.
The range of maintenance costs, as previously mentioned is 3 600 to 102
000 . Hence the average of the two is 52 800, multiplied by the 6037 turbines
will give 318 753 600.
39

Please note that, the data could be a rough estimate due to for practical
purposes, as it can be difficult all 6037 turbines with their actual price for their
start up and maintenance, as well as their power output.

Appendix 5 - Average Wind Speed

Average wind speed


14
12
10
8
2013

2014 p

Average wind speed (knots)

2015 p

10 year mean

4
2
0

(For
reference, see excel, et7_2 saved in EPQ folder in computer)

39 http://www.renewablesfirst.co.uk/wind-learning-centre/how-much-does-a-wind-turbine-cost-to-operate/

Appendix 6 - Distribution of all wind turbines in the UK 40


Note that this image is
composed of three images
stitched together to create a
full map of locations of wind
turbines in the UK

Calculations of Shale Gas per person:


This is equal to:

For USA:

Amount of obtainable shale gas available for the country


Overall population of the Country

2.441 1013
=
318.9 106

76541.6 cubic meters per person, which equal to

76,500 at 3 significant figures41


40 http://www.renewableuk.com/en/renewable-energy/wind-energy/uk-wind-energydatabase/index.cfm/map/1/status/Operational/ and Google maps

41 Population figures sourced from the World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL

For UK:

566 10 9
=
8835.2 cubic meters per person, which equal to 8840 to 3
64.1 10 6

significant figures