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Government plays-down energy blackout predictions

The government has tried to play-down: “Alarmist” speculation that the UK will suffer energy blackouts in the coming decade.

Tucked-away in the annexe to the Government’s recent Low Carbon Transition Plan are some data showing decreasing production post-2020.

“Our analysis suggests that the risks to electricity security of supply from the increase in intermittent wind generation implied by the renewables targets are manageable before 2020, but that it could potentially become a problem after 2020 due to the closure of old gas and coal plants and additional renewable deployment,” reads the annexe.

“We will do further work to determine the scale and nature of the challenges of intermittent generation and consider ways of reducing the impact such as encouraging more demand-side response.”

Conservative energy minister Greg Clark said the Government had: “Put its head in the sand about Britain’s energy policy for a decade. Labour have been forced to admit they expect power cuts for the first time since the 1970s.

“We have known for the best part of a decade that North Sea oil and gas is running out, that nuclear power stations are coming to the end of their shelf life and that most polluting coal-fired power stations are going to be shut down. But the Government has done nothing about it and now consumers are going to pay,” he said.

The Government has now hit-back, saying: “It’s wrong to take a single chart out of context, and alarmist to talk of 70s style three day weeks.

“No one’s head is in the sand. We’re already seeing the benefit of putting extra incentives behind renewables, we have two new nuclear operators gearing up to invest because of our work to remove unnecessary hurdles and our proposed framework for clean coal is the most advanced in the world. 

“There’s 10GW of new electricity capacity being built right now and, with the recent opening of the Milford Haven terminal with capacity to meet a fifth of our gas needs, the UK’s gas imports are more diverse than ever, alongside still significant North Sea production.

“The public should be reassured the UK energy system is one of the most resilient and responsive in the world, it will deliver for the long term and our transition plan will shift it onto a secure low carbon footing,” he said.

Readers' comments (5)

  • When this government says they have everything under control that is the time to worry

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  • The dithering by all major parties has placed the UK in a position where the future is likely to be plagued by "Brown outs".

    The Government says that we will lose 20% of our electrical capacity by 2015. Both EDF and E.On estimate larger closures. Replacement of the old plant will be difficult.

    Apparently in Oct 2008, the EU's Environment Committee ruled that any new fossil fuel plant must produce less that half a kg of CO2 per kWHr. This rules out conventional technology and effectively makes carbon capture essential (doubling the cost of power). Nuclear has a long lead time and wind is intermittent and according to E.On needs 90% back-up from conventional plants to guarantee base load.

    Thus the alternatives would seem to be that we renege on our promises to reduce CO2 or sit shivering in the dark,

    The matter is not helped by the idealist "green" activists that seem to have taken over policy (including at the NCE) , who promote their fundamentalist views over the quieter, saner voices of the rational majority. Greenpeace is doing more harm to he UK than the Taliban.

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  • All forms of electricity generation should be assesed and utiiilised when seen as appropriate.We, in the UK, sit on vast amounts of deep coal. The deep coal industry was demolished by Thatcher and Scargill and yet this is where, the future base load elecitricity supply should come from. The Greens have valid points. Coal is a dirty fuel. Burning it will always produce CO2. CCS is a long way ahead, if not a dead duck. The answer lies in biochar. A coal fired power station desigened to produce electricity, jobs, biochar, jobs, heat for related industries, jobs, heat for local housing. This is what we in the UK need.Biochar is the trendy name for charcoal. Wood can be used or grasses such as miscanthus. The resultant biochar can be used to improve soil and also create carbon credits. More jobs. Better for the UK, better for the planet. Please forget past wars. Deep coal is where the UK's future energy needs will be satisfied.

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  • Wind power works fine with up to 20% contribution in countries such as Denmark which have a much smaller wind recourse than the UK does. The key is in sensible integration with current energy supplies.
    The wind also happens to (typically)pick up at different times to the tide coming in and out.
    If there happend to be a barrage, lets say, across the Severn(?) and maybe also the Humber this could produce 10% of demand at different times of day.
    If we learned to use a bit less energy then we wouldnt need as much power.
    The people who cause the problems are not the 'greens' or the Taliban they are the people who seem keen to slam any scheme that is not their 'ideal'.
    Rather than saying "I like wind so Tidal is rubbish" or "I like nuclear so everything else is rubbish" why dont we say "We have a problem with energy supply, what feasable recourses do we have that we can utilise that also can contribute towards our renewables obligation and stop the country getting fined whilst creating a robust energy supply infrastructure that can be used as a world wide example of good practice that illustrates that the UK's civil and electrical engineers can all work together nicely and come up with good solutions to our problems"
    Just a thought!

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  • we're all doomed!

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