Just under 10% of our generation capacity has gone off-line this year alone as coal-fired power stations are being shut down under the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive, and nuclear sites are closing as they reach the end of their natural lives.
The net result is that the UK is heading for power shortages unless action is taken now.
Ironically the recession has helped keep the lights on as the power requirement in the UK has dropped dramatically (a closed factory uses little or no power!) but increased industrial and commercial demand as we rise out of recession will come just as power plants come off-line.The government has tried to overcome objections that it is subsidising the building of traditional power stations by ‘re-packaging’ energy subsidies in a different guise.
It has publicly stated that there will be no subsidies for nuclear power, but is guaranteeing prices for low-carbon power, which happens to include nuclear.The government cannot keep prevaricating. By definition everything we do affects the environment and it is therefore impossible to avoid criticism from somebody: a wind-turbine ‘spoils’ the countryside, tidal-generation may jeopardise marine life, etc.
The argument for a ‘mix’ of power sources that includes renewable energy is, I believe, unequivocal. Undoubtedly we will need to build new traditional power stations - and now - but the government cannot overlook the potential that shale gas presents. In America, Shale gas has dramatically reduce CO2 as well as reducing their dependency on the import of natural resources.
That is not to say we should just ‘accept’ fracking without robust checks into its safety and suitability.
Joint Managing Director,