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Reading Section

Reading Passage 1

You should spend about 30 minutes on Questions 1-14 which are based on Reading Passage I below.

Obstacles in the path of renewable energy

A In the quest to find viable alternative sources of energy, it is understandable that better-known technologies are favoured. This accounts for the relative prevalence of solar panels and wind turbines, compared to the comparative scarcity of methods harnessing energy from the tides, for example. Cost and scale play a big part too, as does politics, since it takes a huge political commitment for a government to back research and investment into a source of energy that may only reap benefits long after that government is gone. In simple terms, it takes people with long-term vision and concern for coming generations to make these decisions. They also have to be in positions of power.
B It is important to draw a distinction between renewable and alternative energies. According to Dr Michael Rudd, of the Dublin Institute of Energy Alternatives, 'There are many alternatives, one of which is burning wood instead of coal. That does not mean we solve the problems facing the planet, however. For us to find a viable alternative, it has to be renewable'. Dr Rudd points out that there is a temptation to overcomplicate matters because of the desire to use advanced technology for a solution. “Yes, of course we could invest trillions in using electrolysis to split water into its component parts and use the hydrogen for fuel in our vehicles and factories. And yes, there would be benefits. But the answer is staring us in the face. Why not use that water as it is? We have been using flowing water as an energy source for thousands of years,” he says.
C Water mills are indeed the first example of harnessing natural forces in order to perform a range of mechanical tasks. The ancient Greeks and Romans had them, and they existed in ancient China and India. They were used for grinding wheat to make flour, hammering, and sawing timber or stone. Nowadays, we would rarely think of constructing a dam without making provision for water to pass through and generate electricity - it seems too good an opportunity to miss. “But how many dams do you know of?” asks Dr Rudd, “There are just not that many of them, even though proposals exist to build thousands. Building dams creates the same problems that water mills create; once you block the flow of water, you are potentially blocking navigation routes too, and we still need them, otherwise all our rivers would have hydroelectric dams on them. Recent research suggests that creating reservoirs has its problems too, since the stagnant water tends to accumulate methane - a greenhouse gas, and just the kind of thing we are trying to avoid”.
D Wind energy has been used for even longer than water if we consider the thousands of years that have elapsed since we first attached a sail to a boat. The ugliness, noise and damage to wildlife associated with wind farms have all been well documented. Of course, the supply of power is at the mercy of wind strength - considerably less dependable than the flow of a river or the fall of gravity from a hydroelectric dam. It also presents us with an infrastructure issue. In recent years, there have been several cases where a particularly windy night generated more electricity than could be used because there were no systems in place to exploit the excess. This is certainly one obstacle that needs to be overcome.
E Solar energy is perhaps the biggest success story in some countries. However, ignorance is one of the barriers which has prevented its implementation in others. Consistently perceived to be a method for countries with a guaranteed minimum number of sunshine hours, solar power suffers in certain countries simply because people are not convinced that it will work there. Those people include financial organisations which could, if they had a more realistic overview, provide financial incentives for people wishing to invest in green energy. According to Dr Rudd, “Solar energy for domestic use presents us with a similar picture to that of geothermal energy and heat insulation - all of them are considerably cheaper if they are incorporated in the planning stage than if they are added retrospectively. Once all new homes take this into account, we will see a massive difference. However, there is a further barrier - that of split incentives - whereby the builder or owner of the property is reluctant to invest in technology, the benefits of which will be passed on to the tenant in the form of reduced energy bills”.
F Wave and tide power have significantly greater potential than damming rivers, and they harness more predictable forces than wind or solar energy. Many of the above obstacles apply here too, with the threat to marine life and the altering of ecosystems being perhaps more convincing arguments against. However, the huge cost has proved the greatest impediment so far. Despite figures that guarantee a return, this method has not yet started generating a significant amount of energy worldwide. A one-billion-pound project in Wales B was given the green light in 2015 but hit delays almost immediately. Problems specific to this technology include the difficulty of working underwater and the effect of corrosion on metal parts.

Questions 1-5

Reading Passage 1 has six paragraphs, A-F Which paragraph contains the following information?
1. An example of an unexpectedly plentiful supply of energy going to waste(Required)
2. The negative effect on a means of transport(Required)
3. A term which means a group of people are less motivated to make energy savings(Required)
4. A complicated and a simple way to use the same natural resource(Required)
5. A reference to people who consider the future(Required)

Questions 6-9

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 1?

For each of the questions 6-9 please choose:
YESif the statement agrees with the claims of the writer.
NOif the statement contradicts the claims of the writer.
NOT GIVENif it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this.

6. Governments do not care about energy sources they will not directly benefit from.(Required)
7. Most dams have some form of energy-generating technology built in.(Required)
8. The wind is a more reliable source of energy than rivers.(Required)
9. Environmental problems are greater with wind, wave and tide technology.(Required)

Questions 10-14

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
The writer argues that we see more solar panels and wind turbines because we have a better understanding of these technologies. This also explains the __(10)__ of other alternatives. Dr Rudd says that alternative energy is not the same as __(11)__ . He says that, although we can get some benefit if we __(12)__ in complex solutions, this is not necessary. He warns against creating too many __(13)__ , however, since it is now known that this releases harmful gas into the atmosphere. Dr Rudd goes on to say that energy efficiency in homes needs to be considered at the __(14)__ as it is less cost effective to do it later.

Reading Passage 2

You should spend about 30 minutes on Questions 15-27 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Ecological construction

The need for houses for a growing population often seems to be at odds with the need to protect the environment. James Chilton looks at how best to satisfy both of these needs.

A The thing is, sustainable development can be achieved relatively easily so long as the industry can be persuaded to follow certain guidelines and adopt regulations; in short, to care about the environment. This might initially eat into their profits, which is why construction companies often need to be persuaded. Strict laws, fashionable green movements (and public shaming of builders who disregard them) and peer pressure within the industry all contribute to ethical policies and principles. If developers can, at the same time, be made to feel proud of their environmentally- friendly initiatives, then this is an extra incentive for them to care.
B Policies should also be in place to ensure that developers use construction materials which are as green as possible. Natural materials that do not have any potentially toxic substances should be used. Materials for walls, roofs, ceilings, floors and windows need to be chosen so that, even after the lifetime of the dwelling, they will have minimal impact on the environment. They should, where possible, be locally sourced to cut down on the carbon footprint caused by importing or transporting materials. Materials made from recycled products are an option. However, sustainable natural materials will have, overall, far less impact on the environment.
C Our homes need to be built in such a way that, however rich we are, or however little we care about the planet, it is impossible to do too much damage in terms of using up our energy resources or generating emissions. This means that heating, cooling and hot water provision must be as fuel efficient as possible. Solar, wind or geothermal technology must be used as standard so that the greatest possible proportion of renewable energy is used, and temperatures must be correctly regulated by the use of thermostats. In addition to this, cooking appliances, light fittings and bulbs should take into consideration the range of sensors, timers and other economy products we now have available.
D Once all the above have been taken care of, it remains for designers to stop the energy from being lost, and that means insulation. The latest thinking is to steer clear of the potentially harmful side-effects of more traditional materials, such as polystyrene or fibre glass in favour of insulation made from recycled newspaper, wool or even denim. Technology has given us alternatives like aerogels - lightweight and translucent materials that have incredible thermal qualities. A range of treatments also exists to improve the thermal qualities of glass, and, all in all, there is no reason why a new-build should lose more than a small fraction of the energy used to heat or cool it. Roofs should gather rainwater, to be stored and recycled. Water recycling, in the form of water-filtering plants or bioponics, is an exciting prospect. If we care at all about the planet, using improved drinking water to flush the toilet or water the garden must become a thing of the past.
E Orientation plays a big part in making the most of natural resources. It is something that has been practised for thousands of years and learned, no l doubt, the hard way. Even the briefest of studies of old constructions will reveal that they were positioned in such a way as to maximise sunlight in cold countries and shade in hot ones. Houses built end-on into the prevailing winds, houses with south-facing windows or no windows at all on one side, houses built near fresh running water, walled gardens or courtyards to shelter from the wind and trap the sun, steep pitched roofs to stop the snow from settling; all these are examples of working with nature I and not against it. Passive solar design, as it is now known, involves orienting the house in a way that makes the best use of energy from the sun. This can, in certain cases, reduce energy consumption by 40%.
F But it is where the buildings are placed that might ultimately have the biggest effect on the planet because damage is more easily prevented than corrected. Consideration must be given to where new constructions i are to be sited if we are to avoid a range of unwanted short-term and long-term consequences. Fragile ecosystems and green belts should, of course, be respected and protected. Beyond that, it is a matter of common sense that a house built high on a hill will clearly be subjected to more heat loss than one further down. However, a house in a valley where cool, damp air gathers is also going to require more energy in terms of heating. In a time of unpredictable weather patterns, provision needs to be made for flash floods, and it is avoiding vulnerable areas like flood plains, rather than building storm drains, that is the key. Inhabited areas susceptible to landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters account for over half of the world’s population, according to some estimates. Not only do we need to stop development in these areas, but an active decentralisation programme needs to be implemented.

Questions 15-20

Reading Passage 2 has six sections, A-F. Choose the correct heading for each section
15. Paragraph A(Required)
16. Paragraph B(Required)
17. Paragraph C(Required)
18. Paragraph D(Required)
19. Paragraph E(Required)
20. Paragraph F(Required)

Questions 21-26

Write your answers to the questions. Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Writing Task

Write about ONE of the following topics:


Some people say that advertising encourages us to buy things that we really do not need. Others say that advertisements tell us about new products that may improve our lives.

Which viewpoint do you agree with?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.



Even though globalization affects the world's economies in a very positive way, its negative side should not be forgotten.

What is your view? Discuss.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.