Engineers were this week calling for greater oversight of the UK electricity market amid growing fears of power outages.
The concerns were raised as energy regulator Ofgem revealed details of its investigation into UK energy firms’ ability to deliver new capacity that meets the needs of customers and the government. Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan said the regulator’s Project Discovery, due to report to the government this summer, would investigate whether a raft of issues faced by generators would aff ect their ability to deliver much needed infrastructure.
Buchanan was speaking at a Society of British Gas Installers conference in London. Up to 12GW of coal and oil fired plant – 14.5% of the UK’s total electricity generating capacity – will be forced to close under EU legislation in 2015 and a further 7.3GW of nuclear plants will close by 2020. Buchanan said the credit crisis and a lack of clarity over the EU Emissions
Trading Scheme beyond 2012 was stalling investment decisions. Project Discovery was, he said, asking whether the market would be able to deliver the capacity without some form of intervention from Ofgem or government.
Engineers speaking to NCE in its Energy Report agreed that generators were unlikely to deliver capacity or meet the EU target for 15% renewables by 2020 without some form of intervention. ICE president Jean Venables said that national oversight was needed to deliver a green, balanced and secure energy supply. “The view [in 1990 when deregulation occurred] was that ‘the market will provide’ and the ‘dash for gas’ was just beginning,” Venables added. “I was concerned then about the security of supplies in the future. Now I believe that we still have to take steps to ensure that we have suffi cient supplies for our needs.”
Parsons Brinckerhoff technical director Ian Burdon said: “Market drivers have not had an effect other than to deliver a lot of gas plant, which is the quickest and cheapest to build.