I don’t know how often it happens to you or indeed if it happens to you at all, but oftentimes one only really starts to think about where their energy comes from when the power is out. “If only I had a backup generator or two,” is a thought that comes to mind, only to be forgotten about once you enjoy a lengthy period of uninterrupted power consumption again.
The better thought to have in this regard would perhaps be that of getting cleaner, greener energy sources to supplement the power your household sucks out of the grid, such as wind turbines, solar panels, etc.
However, to put things into perspective by way of how the power we’ve been consuming has been produced all along, the sheer scale of the environmental impact is surely enough to propel one into deep, deep thought.
If you read about the UK’s coal mining industry, what you’ll learn is that it dates back 200 years, with the re-ignition of the Industrial Revolution catalysing its peak in 1913 when production levels reached 287 million tonnes. What you’ll also read is a general message which implies that coal production has dropped quite considerably from the dizzying heights it reached, but that still doesn’t make the numbers associated with the use of coal to produce the energy we use any rosier.
I mean sure, it’s a huge stride forward in the emergent quest to reduce coal-dependence with regards to the manner in which we produce our energy, that being reducing the consumption of coal from 157 million tonnes in 1970 right down to 37 million tonnes in 2015. However, for anyone who has even the slightest bit of interest in environmental affairs, 37 million tonnes of coal used for energy production is still a colossal amount!
Truth be told though; we’re gradually making bigger and bigger strides towards better energy sources, but a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that it’s more out of necessity than pure desire.
For instance, would the National Grid still be proud to announce that the 21st of April this year had Britain going a full day without the use of coal power in the generation of electricity if that had no implications at all on the costs associated with the production of that electricity?
The responsibility I guess falls on the shoulders of each and every one of us, but for me on more on a personal level it’s about trying to be independent in as many areas of my life as I can be, one of which is indeed the production of power. It’s rather unpleasant having to think about how some coal-powered station located a few hundred kilometres away literally has the power to affect my access to electricity and so that’s why I’d much rather have us investing in renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbine generators. This takes care of my portion of the identified responsibility, but what it also does is it gives me a bit of autonomy.