BRITAIN WILL have to rely more on gas imports by 2020, even if the government decides to build more nuclear power stations, engineers warned this week.
Gas will have to fill gaps in generating capacity because any new nuclear power stations are unlikely to be ready by then.
Power sector engineers said new nuclear power plants, if commissioned, would be delayed by a mixture of component shortages and planning delays.
The warnings came as the government published its energy review consultation document on Monday.
This highlights nuclear power and clean coal technology as options. The previous energy review put more emphasis on developing renewable energy sources.
Former ICE energy board chairman David Anderson said energy companies were attracted to investing in gas fired power plants because of the speed with which supplies could be brought on stream.
Gas fired power stations also take less time to get planning permission.
Anderson said clean coal technology has yet to be developed and new nuclear power stations could face component shortages and planning delays.
Others shared his view.
'A bottleneck in the supply of parts for nuclear plants will severely restrict the speed and quantity of newbuilds, ' said Queen Mary & Westfield College electrical engineering professor Michael Loughton.
Mott MacDonald business development director Simon Harrison said the government should start planning for a nuclear future now if it was to increase nuclear capacity. This would allow a construction programme to begin as soon as possible.
Loughton said renewable energy could not be relied on to provide Britain's baseline energy supply. This was because renewable energy storage technology to release power during supply low points has yet to be developed.
INFOPLUS Access the energy review document via www. nceplus.co. uk