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In the News

Hopeful Geographies 3: Signs of Transition in Britain’s Electricity Supply

Alice Griffiths

17th January 2024

At A-Level we are asked to consider thresholds or tipping points in Earth's systems. We are used to talking about thresholds in terms of climate change, such as accelerating ice melt and positive feedback in the Arctic which, of course, isn’t positive or beneficial in any sense. But what about a threshold that tips a system towards hopeful change. For example should we focus on developments moving the energy industry towards 'net zero'? In late December, researchers at the University of Birmingham published their findings about how Great Britain’s energy sector is changing; and it’s good news. I hope this story will provide a welcome fillip in Winter along with a useful teaching resource (see download at the bottom of the page).

The largest wind turbine installation vessel in the world, off the coast of Aberdeen, in 2018

In 2023, it is likely that Great Britain generated more electricity from wind, solar and hydro than fossil fuels for the first time ever – you can read about it in this article in The Conversation. These weather-dependent energy sources are increasingly being put to work to replace coal, oil and gas.

And it’s not just in Britain 'switching on' to renewables if you take a look at this Our World in Data graph showing the expansion of solar power in Spain and Portugal.

We’ve created an ‘In the News’ activity (with answers) for you to download and use with your classes today. Year12s and13s studying the optional Resource security unit for AQA A-Level’s Paper 2 will benefit, but this update also links to the core unit Water & carbon cycles (AQA, Paper 1): 'Changes in the carbon cycle over time, to include ... human impact (including hydrocarbon fuel extraction and burning, farming practices, deforestation, land use changes)'.

In November of last year, in the run-up COP28, we shared another ‘In the News’ teaching activity about how China’s greenhouse emissions may be set to fall in 2024 - grab that download from the blogpost here.

Download this free tutor2u resource

Alice Griffiths

Alice has taught Geography over a period of twenty years. She is a published author and editor of a wide range of A level resources and has also created award-winning, online content for younger students. An occasional presenter at the GA’s annual conference, she was head of department at an 11-18 school until 2020.

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