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Energy

Our society is reliant on energy to fuel all aspects of modern life. But we know that our reliance on traditional fossil fuels is causing the Earth's temperature to rise and contributing to climate change. Over the coming decades, our challenge is to ensure a secure, safe and affordable mix of energy resources, while tackling climate change by reducing carbon emissions to keep global warming below the international target of 1·5°C.

Offshore wind turbines

Renewable energy

NERC funds research into the safety and viability of a range of alternative energy sources including wind energy, tidal and geothermal power. NERC's research showing wind farms pose low risk to humans and wildlife - and how these risks can be mitigated - helped new Scottish wind farms receive the green light, and research conducted by NERC's National Oceanography Centre - external link - showing offshore wind farms do not contribute to coastal erosion has saved the wind energy industry £3·6m in monitoring costs.

Scientists at the NERC-funded British Geological Survey - external link - are working on ways to harness the Earth's immense heat energy to produce geothermal power which could be used to heat homes and office buildings and generate electricity.

Gas hob

Cleaner oil and gas

Oil and gas currently provides 75 per cent of the UK's primary energy source. NERC is working with industry partners to ensure the safe and clean use of these traditional fossil fuels, including innovative partnerships between scientists and energy providers, and research into the safety of extracting natural gas in the UK, known as fracking. The British Geological Survey is undertaking vital work as part of the government's energy strategy to better understand the potential for fracking in the UK and work out how any risks to the environment can be managed.

Sunflowers growing in front of a power station

Carbon capture

The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon is a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. NERC-funded research at the British Geological Survey was the first to identify that capturing and storing it could be a viable way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Eiffel Tower at night

Climate change

NERC is the UK's leading funder of climate science and our research has been crucial in uncovering the effects of climate change on the planet. In 2015, Paris hosted COP21, a conference which fostered a promising international agreement to keep global warming below 2°C with a target of 1·5°C. Through presenting their research, hosting events and speaking at COP21, NERC scientists provided evidence and expertise to support negotiators in coming up with an effective agreement.

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