In the late Twentieth Century fossil fuels including oil, natural gas and coal were the main fuels for electricity generation within the United Kingdom. In recent years coal has been displaced as an electricity generation fuel as part of the United Kingdom's journey to lower greenhouse Gas Emissions. Natural Gas, however, remains an important electricity fuel. In line with Government Policy for Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, natural gas combustion must decrease and/or be associated with large scale carbon capture and storage. Natural gas remains the dominant heating fuel in the UK and it remains to be seen whether this will shift to low carbon electrical heat (e.g. from renewables and nuclear), or whether the UK natural gas infrastructure will be decarbonised in some way - e.g. via a transition to hydrogen in the gas network. It appears that the most likely future will be a combination of a shift to further electrification (assuming progress in electricity storage) or to a hydrogen economy (assuming progress in CCS), or some combination of both.
Research relating to fossil fuels at The Open University is associated with a transition to a low-carbon future in the UK and internationally. While the UK is now well on a journey to a low-carbon energy system, for some countries the key decisions lie ahead. These potentially involve challenging trade-offs e.g. between poverty alleviation and climate stability. Ideally, of course, beneficial innovations might be sought out that will militate in both dimensions.
information on OU fossil fuels and CCS research, please contact
Professor William Nuttall (Professor of Energy):