Future Energy Prices
Energy prices have doubled over the last 10 years. OFGEM (the energy regulator) says they’ll increase a minimum of 10% every year which will make the average household electricity bill over £5,000 per year by 2035. The national grid has always run at 15-20% surplus but is now running at 2-5%, meaning we’re using more energy than we’re able to produce. As of 2015 OFGEM have warned us to expect widespread blackouts across the country due to power shortages.
How important is energy?
Before the discovery of oil in the 1850’s the world population had remained fairly stable at under 2 billion, since the widespread use of oil in the early 1900’s we’ve grown exponentially to over 7 billion. Our civilisation is entirely reliant upon energy for survival since it provides the basis for our food production, technology, transport, manufacturing processes, construction and economy.
There are 25,000 man hours of energy in a single barrel of oil, which is why we’ve relied upon it for our energy needs until now, but we are running out of oil far too quickly. We’ll never completely remove our need for fossil fuels, but we can dramatically reduce our dependency on them for producing electricity, so we can use them for more important things.
How can we tell how much oil is left?
‘Peak Oil’ is when we’ve used half our reserves, which means our production can only decline. Our population and demand is constantly growing, but our supply is decreasing, so prices can only increase from now on. The North Sea hit peak oil in 1999, so the UK is now reliant on importing from Russia and Hungary to meet our energy needs. Saudi Arabia has 25% of the world’s oil supply, but even they are drilling off-shore (which is very expensive and risky) as is every country, as proof that we don’t have enough.
In the 1980’s one OPEC member claimed to double its oil reserves overnight, purely to drive investment, and every other OPEC member followed suit. Clearly these figures were fabricated, but they have not been altered since, which begs the question how much is actually left?
There are many alternative ways of producing electricity without oil, however most of them simply do not work. Fortunately there are other ways we can generate electricity from renewable resources, which are free, unlimited and green.