Gas per cent

However, in 2008 the EU will enforce desulphurisation regulations on coal fired plants making them uneconomic. Their only option will be to switch to biofuels such as rapid rotation crops which is already being pioneered at the massive Drax power station in Yorkshire. The use of biofuels may offer a future for coal fired power stations. A plant operated by Biojoule in East Anglia is already producing 15 000 tonnes a year of specially processed wood for partial fuel replacement in coal fired power plants.

The obvious conclusion to draw from all this is that buildings being designed now will, in most cases, still be functioning when the screws on fossil fuels are really tightening. For buildings wholly reliant on fossil-based energy, it will be impossible to make accurate predictions as to running costs in, say, ten years' time. What is certain is that energy prices will rise steeply since there is still only patchy evidence of the will to stave off this crisis by the deployment of renewable energy technologies. The pressure to incorporate the external costs like damage to health, buildings and above all the biosphere into the price of fossil will intensify as the effects of global warming become increasingly threatening. The government undertaking is to meet 10 per cent of electricity demand by 2010 from renewable sources. What tends to be overlooked is that, by then, demand will probably have increased by more than this percentage and, at the same time, many of the nuclear power plants are likely to have been decommissioned. By 2015 the UK could be facing an energy vacuum which emphasises the need to take the plunge into renewable technologies as a matter of urgency, which makes the latest offering from the European Environment Agency (EEA) report of 2004 all the more remarkable and disturbing. It states that within the European Union the share of renewable electricity rose from 12 per cent in 1990 to 14 per cent in 2001. The EU target is 21 per cent

Figure 2.7

Comparison of electricity derived from renewables in 25 EU states

(source: European Environment Agency 2004)

_ Indicative targets

□ All other renewables

□ Industrial and municipal waste dl Large hydropower

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by 2010, suggesting that much more needs to be done. The EEA has produced a histogram which shows the relative performance of member states. The UK is fourth from bottom of the table of all countries which have a contribution from renewables. (Figure 2.7) (EEA 2004; Signals 2004, a European Environment Agency Update on selected issues, Copenhagen, May 2004).

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