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In future we’ll use more and more power. And power generation, the first step in bringing electricity to houses (including yours!), businesses and everywhere else it’s used, already employs some 10,000 engineering construction workers in the UK.

These skilled people construct, operate, control and maintain installations like power stations, and the turbines that generate electricity.

But the best way to generate the power we need to live, without damaging our environment, is one of the big questions of the 21st century. Engineers and technicians are working hard at finding solutions. Over 30% of the UK’s electricity still comes from power stations that burn coal. But they produce 70% more CO2 than modern gas plants – and are more expensive too. That’s one reason clean burning gas is heading for a ‘golden age’, with gas-fired stations preferred for a lot of the new generating capacity being developed just now.

Carbon capture technology

To help hit the EU’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, our traditional coal-fired power stations are steadily being closed down. Thanks to developments in new Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, coal also still has a future in our energy set-up.

Carbon capture technology is in its early stages, but is already being tested and trialed at power stations around the UK. The Government has said that a new generation of coal power plants must have CCS capability from day one, and it’s put £1 billion into one of the world’s biggest projects.

Thanks to engineering construction, it seems the future of both gas-fired and coal-fired power generation are burning bright – which could also mean a bright future for you in your engineering construction career.