UK power industry jobs

In the United Kingdom, electricity is generated using coal, nuclear, renewables, oil and natural gas. The UK also imports electricity from other countries, mainly from continental Europe, which accounts for 1.5% of UK electricity generated. Official figures from the March 2014 Energy Trends publication indicate that the UK generated 82.9% of its electricity from coal, natural gas, and nuclear in the year 2013 .

Coal generated power

36.3% of the UK’s electricity is supplied by coal burning power stations, and the industry employs just over 5,000 workers. There are various types of coal, and the most commonly used in UK power stations is bituminous coal.

Nuclear power

The UK’s first nuclear plant opened in the 1950s and there are now sixteen nuclear reactors located across the UK in nine plants situated in England, Wales, and Scotland. Nuclear energy generates 19.8% of the UK’s electricity, and the industry employs approximately 40,000 people.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy first began contributing to the UK’s electricity from the mid 1990s, and it currently supplies 14.8% of the UK’s electricity. The renewable energy source that generates the most electricity is biomass, though other renewable sources used include, wind, wave, tidal, hydropower, and solar. The wind, wave, and tidal energy sector employs approximately 18,000 people.

In the UK biomass is used in the anaerobic digestion process to make bio-gas which is then burnt to generate electricity and heat. Several coal fired power plants in the UK now also operate as biomass powered plants, one of these is the Drax power station in Yorkshire. In the UK, electricity is generated using wind turbines which are located both onshore and offshore. The UK is home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm, The London Array, which is located in the Thames Estuary.

In the UK there are three main methods used to generate hydroelectricity including: storage, run-of-river, and pumped storage. There are various hydroelectric schemes located across the UK including the Dinorwig Power Station in north Wales, which is one of the UK’s largest schemes.

Oil & Gas generated power

Natural gas generates 26.8% of the UK’s electricity and oil generates 0.7%. Together these industries employ approximately 32,000 people. Oil has been used as an energy source since the 1940s, though its electricity generation has remained relatively small. The use of natural gas as a generator of electricity began in the early 1990s, which is also when the UK’s first Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant was commissioned.

Recent figures have indicated that there has been a decline in the use of older methods of electricity generation in the UK such as coal, oil, and gas. The use of nuclear energy to produce electricity has risen slightly over the same period but the largest increase as been through renewables which has risen from 11.3% to 14.8% from the previous year.

Careers in Power

Job positions in the power industry can include:

  • Civil engineer jobs
  • Electrical engineer jobs
  • Field engineer jobs
  • Mechanical engineer jobs
  • Construction jobs
  • Process engineer jobs
  • Structural engineer jobs

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