Significant strides are being made in reducing emissions from fossil fuel power plants. They are becoming more efficient, new scrubbing technologies are being developed and there are technologies to sequestering CO2 gas in underground aquifers.
While all these techniques and technologies are laudable, renewable energy sources are the only sources with potentially zero emissions (even nuclear has “emission” issues with the mining of fuel and wastes).
In 2004, approximately 4.5% of all electricity in the UK was generated with renewable sources. The table below shows a breakdown of the sources.
Note that not all “renewable” are CO2 emission free. Only 48% of the renewables listed in 2004 were clean.
Therefore, in 2004, only 2.25% of all electricity was produced by sources that didn’t generate pollutants.
Wind power and photovoltaics are growing very rapidly over the entire world. Most large-scale hydropower sites have also already been developed, but there is a wealth of untapped, small scale hydropower sites in the UK. At one time there were over 20,000 mill sites in the UK and many of these formerly active sites have the potential to generate clean, CO2 free electricity.