Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The lights will be going out all over the UK

The Telegraph reports:
"The UK is at "real risk" of imminent power shortages as a result of attempts to shift to more environmentally friendly methods of electrictity production, a report has warned.

The study, which was carried out by Capgemini, a global energy consultancy firm, also claims that electricity generation has fallen to its lowest level in ten years.

The shortage has been caused by the increase in the level of demand for energy combined with a growing tendency to build wind turbines, at the expense of other, more reliable, electricity sources, it says.

The report estimates that around one quarter of the UK's energy plant capacity will close by 2015 as the country struggles to balance its carbon emissions targets with production of new energy sources.

An added problem is that Britain is moving from being self-sufficient in oil and gas as North Sea production declines, the report states.

In 2005, the UK became a net importer of gas. By 2010, imports could account for 40 per cent of British gas needs; by 2020, 80 per cent to 90 per cent.

Nuclear reactors currently account for about 20 per cent of Britain's electricity, but this will shrink to 6 per cent in 20 years as ageing plants are closed down.

A spokesman for Capgemini said that unless new power stations are built "the lights will go out".

He added: "Last year the system very nearly ran out of power and situation is still very tight. We have a large number of power stations that are going to close between now and 2015.

"There are stations that are planned to replace them but these stations are being built fairly slowly and the planned output of the new power stations will not necessarily cover those that are closing.

"We still have time to sort this out but over the next few years we may well be facing a shortage of energy."

The report also warned that the credit crunch had slowed down investment into utilities infrastructure across Europe and warned that governments should expect a "difficult wake up" once the recession is over.

It estimates that an investment of at least 1 trillion euros (£790 billion) is needed across the continent over the next 25 years.

Last year a report by Logica CMG, a business consultancy firm, warned that demand for energy could outstrip supply by almost one quarter within eight years.

The loss to the economy could be £108 billion each year, it said.

It comes just a fortnight after energy experts warned that Britain faces blackouts within ten years as power stations go out of service.

They claimed that government dithering had failed to guarantee the construction of new plants.

Nine oil and coal-fired power plants are to close by 2015 because of an EU directive that aims to limit pollution.

At the same time, four ageing nuclear power plants will also be shut.

Dr Jon Gibbins, of Imperial College and many other industry experts are concerned the UK is becoming increasingly reliant on imported gas, which can show sudden price hikes.

It also puts Britain at the mercy of gas rich states in the Middle East and Russia, which is increasingly flexing its muscles as the world's first energy super-power.

Dr Gibbins said it is vital that Britain has a diverse source of electricity, from nuclear, renewable sources, such as wind power, and coal fired power stations where the carbon emissions are captured and stored under ground.

Dr Gibbins was one of 31 experts quizzed on the issue by BBC News.

The Government is aiming to cover 20 per cent of electricity needs from renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power by 2020. This would require a multi-billlion pound investment which does not appear to be forthcoming, the experts said.

Energy minister Michael O'Brien insisted the UK is building sufficient new power stations. He pointed to the fact that the French company EDF is committed to spending £12.5billion on delivering new nuclear power stations."

I have blogged previously about the way that this country is going to have severe power generation problems in the very near future. As I have said before, buy a generator.

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