According to a new report by the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), the country had 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and just three years of gas remaining, which will increase our dependency on Norway, Qatar and Russia. (Read the full report below)

This has sparked further calls for a Europe-wide drive to expand renewable energy, with Dr Aled Jones from the GSI claiming that heavily-indebted European economies are likely to be ‘increasingly threatened’ by rising energy prices ‘unless urgent action is taken’.

“It is vital that those shaping Europe’s future political agenda understand our existing economic fragility,” said Jones. “The EU is becoming ever more reliant on our resource-rich neighbours such as Russia and Norway, and this trend will only continue unless decisive action is taken.”

Reserves of fossil fuels are varied across Europe, according to the report. Bulgaria has 34 years of coal left on current consumption levels, while Germany has 250 years of coal remaining but less than a year of oil. France appears to be in the worst position, with less than year to go before it runs out of all three fossil fuels. 

Timely reminder

Here in the UK, experts say this report confirms the need for additional investment in wind, wave and tidal energy to fill the gap.

Commenting on the study, RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber, said: “This report is a timely reminder of the need to develop our nation’s significant renewable energy resources to the maximum well before the UK’s fossil fuels dwindle away to nothing.

That’s why it’s puzzling that the Conservatives have said they want to stop financial support for future onshore wind projects, especially as onshore wind is the cheapest mainstream form of renewable energy we have in the toolkit.

“The prospect of running out of fossil fuels in the UK by the end of the decade should focus minds on the absolute necessity of guaranteeing the generation of new low carbon power. Our import dependency has been growing every year, and we can’t let our nation’s energy security be at the whim of a foreign power. Onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal energy will help deal with this, so they should be getting the right level of support politically and financially to guarantee the UK a secure power supply”.

Homegrown energy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has, however, dismissed this report as ‘nonsense’.

“The UK is one of the most energy secure countries in the world thanks to the combination of our own reserves, our diverse sources of imported energy and our focus on increasing clean, homegrown energy in the UK – which includes nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage,” said a DECC spokesperson.

“As well as attracting record investment into our energy security since 2010, the UK is leading globally on energy security, particularly through the G7 which has agreed to take global action to improve energy security, and in getting a deal in the EU to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.”

The GSI’s full report – Country Resource Maps – can be viewed below.

Luke Nicholls

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