Natural Resources, Energy Resources
British economy, waterpower, Coal production, natural gas liquids, landfill gas
Britain has the richest energy sources in the European Union (EU), and its abundant resources of oil and natural gas are of vital importance to the British economy. Until the 1970s small amounts of oil were produced from onshore wells, but this amount was far less than Britain needed. In 1969 large supplies of oil and natural gas were discovered in the North Sea off the eastern coast of Britain, particularly off the coast of Scotland. Oil and natural gas production soared after supplies were brought ashore in 1975. Today Britain is the world’s eighth largest producer of crude oil and natural gas liquids, with more than 60 offshore fields. Refined oil products are one of Britain’s major exports today, most of which are sold to European nations.
For many years coal was mined extensively, providing the primary source of energy in Britain. It was also exported. Coal production reached its peak in 1913, when more than 300 million tons were mined. Today production is less than a sixth of that figure and coal is far less important to the British economy. Britain imports much more coal than it exports.
Britain also has a number of nuclear energy facilities. Britain meets 27 percent of its energy needs through nuclear energy. Recently much research has been devoted to developing biofuels—energy from wastes, landfill gas, and crops—as well as to developing solar energy, wind power, and waterpower.
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