Earth Notes: Can we live on (UK) renewables in the UK? (2009)

Updated 2023-11-07.
Can you make it all add up for the UK?

Answer: only if the green (renewable generation column) can be made at least as tall as the red (consumption) column. Even when ignoring issues such as intermittency, eg wind doesn't blow on demand to turn turbines during the TV soap break.

(Prices/numbers are ~2009--2010.)

Pick Your Solution

Press the buttons (or enter your own numbers from your own spreadsheet) to find a way to keep the lights on. Your solution must not cost us too much each day nor taking too much space!

Look at the bottom of the green stack and you'll see the cost per person per day and how many UKs worth of land area you need to generate as you've specified. There's also a costs table further down for more detail.

Start Here (press one of these to get to a known state):

Consumption/generation per person per day in the UK
Modify Consumption Modify Generation

p107 alternative scenarios
Transporting stuff
Food, farming, fertilizer
Heating, cooling
Jet Flights
Total Consumption
Total Generation


Assuming the following:

costs of the selected plan (eg money, land-area, etc) are:

Source kWh/d/p Cost £/kWh/d Area m2/kWh/d Cost £/p (capex) Area m2/p Flow Name Comments

As to the 'area' costs computed, note that it may be possible to deploy a given land area for multiple uses, eg solar PV on housing roofspace (and heat-pumps underneath), solar farms under turbines with geothermal extraction from under them. Not all the area 'cost' computed is inland, eg for off-shore wind.

Spreadsheet Import/Export

This is intended to help get data in and out of a spreadsheet. It may not work with all spreadsheets.

Copy-and-paste rows from your spreadsheet of the form:



genWAVE 4

to the area below. Columns/values can be separated with TABs, spaces or commas. Rows not understood may be quietly ignored.