According to a new report, Engineering the UK Electricity Gap, by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the UK Government’s plan to shut down all coal-fired power plants by 2025 combined with retiring the majority of its nuclear fleet could could create a 40 – 55% electricity supply gap by 2025.
The report explains that plans to close the gap by building Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plants are unrealistic, as the UK would need to build about 30 new CCGT plants in less than 10 years. The UK has built just four CCGTs in the last 10 years, closed one and eight other power plants. Additionally, in 2005 twenty nuclear sites were listed for decommissioning, leaving a significant gap to be filled.
The report has highlighted the country has neither time, the resources nor enough people with the right skills to build this many gas-fired or nuclear power plants in time. It is already too late for any other nuclear reactors to be planned and built by the coal ‘shut-off’ target of 2025, other than Hinkley Point C.
Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Lead Author of the report stated: “The UK is facing an electricity supply crisis. 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.”
The report also highlights that a greater reliance on interconnectors to import electricity from Europe and Scandinavia is likely to increase electricity costs and lead to less energy security.
Baxter continued: “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.”
“Government needs to take urgent action to work with industry to create a clear pathway with timeframes and milestones for new electricity infrastructure to be built including fossil fuel plants, nuclear power, energy storage and combined heat and power. With carbon capture and sotrage (CCS) now out of the picture in the UK, new low carbon innovations must be supported over the course of the next 10 years.
Baxter concluded: “we need to ensure we have the right skills and knowledge in place to enable this key infrastructure to be built. The UK Infrastructure Commission must also take urgent action to prioritise greater energy efficiency by industry and clarify financial incentives for research and development of renewables, energy storage and combined heat and power.”
The Engineering the UK Electricity Gap report’s recommendations include:
- The UK Infrastructure Commission should assess the necessary incentives for industry and the public to reduce the demand on the electricity system through engineering efficiencies into processes and equipment, awareness raising and advocacy.
- The UK Infrastructure Commission must urgently implement the changes necessary across the industry and supply chain to deliver security of electricity supply with no coal-fired generation. These include investment in research and development activities for renewables, energy storage, combined heat and power and innovation in power plant design and build.
- Collaboratively the UK Government and its delivery bodies, along with industry, should review the capacity in the supply chains to deliver the construction of the ‘most likely’ new power infrastructure. This includes identifying timeframes and milestones for conventional and unconventional power generation build (fossil fuel, nuclear, energy storage, combined heat and power and off-grid options) along with growth in skills and knowledge within the UK to meet the potential increase in demand.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/power/26012016/uk-could-face-an-energy-gap-of-up-to-55-by-2025-112/