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UK Energy Crisis Looms Under Inadequate Energy Policies

The United Kingdom is walking into an energy crisis it may not be ready to face, according to industry experts.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) has warned that the UK Government’s policy to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025, in combination with the retirement of the majority of the nation’s ageing nuclear fleet and growing electricity demand will leave the country facing a 40-55% electricity supply gap.

Communities May Benefit from Wind FarmsResponding in tandem with the IME, the UK’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) has warned that current Government policies are cutting off one of the only ways such an electricity supply gap could be closed — namely, renewable energy in combination with energy storage.

A new report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has found that the current plan to plug the looming electricity supply gap with Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plants are unrealistic — requiring approximately 30 new CCGT plants within 10 years, compared to only 4 being built in the past 10 years. The significant reduction in existing nuclear and coal-fired power plants may be politically and environmentally beneficial, but the current in-place “solutions” don’t hold up to closer scrutiny.

Additionally, the report, Engineering the UK Electricity Gap, claims that “a greater reliance on interconnectors to import electricity from Europe and Scandinavia is likely to lead to higher electricity costs and less energy security.”

“The UK is facing an electricity supply crisis,” said Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Lead Author of the report. “As the UK population rises and with the greater use of electricity use in transport and heating it looks almost certain that electricity demand is going to rise.”

“However with little or no focus on reducing electricity demand, the retirement of the majority of the country’s ageing nuclear fleet, recent proposals to phase out coal-fired power by 2025, and the cut in renewable energy subsidies, the UK is on course to produce even less electricity than it does at the moment.”

“Currently there are insufficient incentives for companies to invest in any sort of electricity infrastructure or innovation and worryingly even the Government’s own energy calculator does not allow for the scenarios that new energy policy points towards. Under current policy, it is almost impossible for UK electricity demand to be met by 2025.”

At the same time, the Renewable Energy Association have weighed in on the discussion, warning that 2016 may result in “being the year where the government subsidises nuclear, gas, and diesel but stifles the most cost-effective renewables such as solar, biomass, and wind.”

“This crisis is the clear product of a lack of vision in energy policy,” said James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association. “Technologies are here now that can supply this country’s power needs in a low-carbon, low cost way and can be rapidly deployed, including solar PV, wind, and energy storage.”

Specifically, a report published last week by the REA in conjunction with professional services company KPMG, outlined how the decrease in energy storage costs have made the technology economic in many situations at grid scale right now, and stated that by 2017 they will be economic in tandem with solar PV. Such a decentralized energy system will, according to James Court, “lower costs to consumers and increase” the country’s energy security.

 
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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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