Review Article | Published:

Economics of alternative energy sources

Nature volume 267, pages 111117 (12 May 1977) | Download Citation



An important part of the oil and natural gas at present consumed in the UK is used for the heating of buildings, a demand which shows large diurnal, day-to-day and annual fluctuations. The replacement of this energy by nuclear-generated electricity, as at present envisaged, would require the construction of some 250 GW of additional capacity by the end of the century, a progamme which does not seem feasible. By incorporating relatively cheap, short term storage in the form of low-grade heat, the generating capacity required to fulfil peak demand could be reduced by more than 50%. As soon as such storage is provided, however, other sources of energy become viable and attractive alternatives, and the UK is well situated to make use of wind, wave, and tidal power. It seems likely that the value of North Sea oil/gas reserves as feedstock to the chemical industry will rise sufficiently to make an early reduction in their consumption as fuel of great economic importance.

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  1. Cavendish Laboratory, Madingley Road, Cambridge, UK.

    • Martin Ryle


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