Power and energy underpin every aspect of social and economic life. Growth and diversity in energy provision have long been priorities for engineering. With much of the UK’s aged fossil fuel plants set to come offstream engineers are tackling massive challenges in creating an energy system that is fit for modern purpose, secure, sustainable and affordable.

Environmental concerns are creating growing demand for diversity of supply, using new technologies and renewable sources of energy that do not rely on hydrocarbons or create damaging pollution and emissions. UK engineers are world leaders in developing new technologies in wind, wave, tide and solar power.

Innovative UK energy companies, large and small, are researching and testing new kinds of power devices that use renewable sources as the UK seeks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and meet its climate change commitments.

Case study

Case study

The implications of using more intermittent generation on the energy network pose a variety of challenges. Despite increasing uncertainties, the grid needs to give customers a stable supply of 50Hz at the appropriate voltage.

With 15% of energy (around 30% of electricity) set to come from renewable sources by 2020, a predicted 30,000MW of wind generation is to be installed by the end of this decade (6,000MW is currently installed). This significant increase requires thousands of turbines to be installed, either at remote onshore locations or out at sea, and integrated into the existing electricity network by National Grid. For the first offshore windfarms, a single subsea cable was installed to link back to the onshore grid. Decisions are now being made to construct a more sophisticated network of terminals linking multiple offshore windfarms. In addition to these undersea cables, the electricity network on land will need to be strengthened and extended to accommodate the rising influx of renewable power generation.