Non-Renewable Energy Data Analysis 3 pages

Non-Renewable Energy Data Analysis

There were 143 respondents to the survey. They were 52.45% female (75) and 47.55% male (68). The survey respondents skewed older than the national average. The median age in the UK is 40.5, and 54.17% of survey respondents were over the age of forty. So the age skews only slightly older than the total UK population. Children were underrepresented in the survey. 17.44% of UK citizens are aged 15 or under, but in the survey only 9.03% were 17 or younger. Some 59.03% of respondents reported themselves to be married, with 25% reporting “never married.” A relatively low number reported cohabitation or domestic partnership.

Most of the survey respondents were employed, at 59.03%. A total of 4.86% reported that they are unemployed and looking for work, slightly lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.4%. While 10.42% of respondents are over the age of 60, only 4.86% report being retired. This implies that perhaps many of the over 60 respondents are between the ages of 60 and 65. All told, the survey reached a moderately representative sample by age of UK citizens. There were some differences that could have been accounted for with a larger survey size, but for the most part the data provides a reasonable snapshot of the UK population.

Almost all of the respondents reported that they know the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy. 93.01% reported this. There were only 2 respondents (1.4%) who reported that they do not know the difference, and a further 8 (5.59%) who reported that they are not sure. So the level of education regarding renewable energy in the UK is very high. Given this, one would expect a relatively low percentage of errors in identifying which sources of energy are renewable or not. There were a few errors on the survey, as some renewable sources (hydroelectric, wind, wave and solar) were identified by a couple of respondents as being non-renewable, but the numbers were within the expected range.

There were three categories where there was some confusion — wood, geothermal and biomass. Biomass may be poorly understood in general. Wood is an interesting one, because while technically wood is a renewable energy source, that depends on the rate of deforestation. Britain was once almost entirely covered by forest, until it was cleared for fuel and farming. Nuclear was also seen as confusing — it sort of is confusing because while we cannot create new uranium, there is more than enough to power the world for a very long time.

The survey respondents showed that Britons are very concerned about non-renewable sources running out — over 50% claimed to be “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about this possibility. Yet, 58.4% claimed that they would be unhappy if a nuclear power facility was built in their area.. Surprisingly perhaps, there was more concern about running out of non-renewable energy than there was about the damage it is doing to the environment. The average score of respondents with respect to worry about damage to the environment was just 4 out of 10.

Responses were quite split with respect to government spending on renewable energy. The distribution was fairly even over the six categories, and the extreme ends of the spending spectrum both received a large number of votes. This shows that even while there is a high knowledge of non-renewable energy and a high level of concern about our energy future, there is a substantial split in terms of what the government should do about it.

The open-ended question about the impacts that non-renewable energy has on the economy and the environment yielded the following results. In general, respondents felt that the impact on the economy was positive and the impact on the environment was negative. Many indicated both in the same response. A few indicated that climate change was negative for the economy so non-renewables are therefore bad for the economy, and there were also a few respondents who felt positively about renewables and the economy, especially where innovation is concerned.

Data 1 shows that fossil fuels have the highest carbon intensity of all fuels types. The top three for carbon dioxide intensity are coal, oil and natural gas, and they are orders of magnitude ahead of anything else. Coal, the most carbon-intensive non-renewable, has carbon intensity 20.38 times that of the most intensive renewable, solar. The mean carbon intensity of renewables is 15, compared with 453 for non-renewables. The median for renewables is 14 and for non-renewables 500. This indicates that there is a huge split in terms of carbon intensity between the two types, with the non-renewable forms of energy being highly carbon-intensive and renewable energy forms having very low carbon intensity.

With respect to water intensity, renewable energy sources have a high mean, 77, but that is skewed significantly by biomass, which has a water intensity of 360. Without biomass, the mean is 6.2. The water intensity of non-renewables is 7. The median water intensity of renewables is 5.3 and it is 1.6 for non-renewables. These figures are a lot closer. Using the median indicates that non-renewables are less water intensive, but using the mean with biomass taken out indicates that renewables are less water intensive. Another conclusion to be drawn from this analysis is that biomass is highly water intensive while most other energy forms are not.

Data 2 shows that fossil fuel dependency is in a declining trend. The slope of the trendline is important here, because of the seasonality of fossil fuel dependency. Quarters 4 and 1, which correspond to autumn and winter — the cooler, dark months — have high fossil fuel dependency. First, renewables such as solar are in lower supply during these darker months. But also, more heat is needed in home so demand increase, and if renewables are already operating at capacity that new demand must be met by fossil fuels. Consider the following:

This shows the trend in consumption over the course of the year — Q3 is July, August, September, where demand for heat and light are lowest. Q4 is October, November, December, dark and cold months in the UK. The trend that shows overall fossil fuel dependence declining is easier to understand not just with a broad trendline but with an understanding of the seasonal influences of energy consumption.


CIA World Factbook (2016). United Kingdom. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved December 6, 2016 from

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