Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Britain Could Be Short on Electricity in a Few Years

From the Daily Express:

Britain is "quite simply running out of power" and blackouts are almost inevitable within the next few years.

This is the stark warning from the head of an energy think-tank who believes power cuts could be serious enough to spark civil disorder.

Campbell Dunford of the respected Renewable Energy Foundation said: "It’s almost too late to do anything about it. Nothing will stop us having to pay very high prices for power in future."

...

The “retirement” of a string of nuclear and coal-fired power stations will see 37 percent of the UK’s generation disappear by 2015, partly because of EU environmental directives.
But here's what caught my eye:
The [REF] report concludes: "A near fatal preoccupation with politically attractive but marginal forms of renewables seems to have caused a blindness towards the weakening of the UK’s power stations and a dangerous and helpless vulnerability to natural gas."
Wow, I'm a bit stunned (and impressed) that a renewable think-tank admitted this conclusion. Hopefully many in the U.S. are watching and taking notes on Britain's experience.

Hat-tip to Eric McErlain!

5 comments:

George Carty said...

Are there any energy traitors in the New Labour government, comparable to Gerhard Schroeder in Germany?

Bill said...

The “retirement” of a string of nuclear and coal-fired power stations will see 37 percent of the UK’s generation disappear by 2015, partly because of EU environmental directives.

Do the nukes have to be retired? Most US plants have had their licenses extended.

MartinJ said...

The UK AGRs might get a few extra years squeezed out of them, but are unlikely to get the size of life extension typical of most US LWRs due to issues with their graphite cores.

The Express article is quite sensationalist, however. The idea that the UK would meekly shut down its old coal stations and suffer powercuts because of an EU directive is farfetched. Modernisation of old plants or payment of fines for non-compliance are the far more likely consequences of the directive.

Alistair said...

The fear of power shortages in the UK has pushed up the forward price of wholesale electricity to over $160/MW so it is not surprising that nuclear power is looking very attractive with new generation in the UK likely to cost around $100/MW.

drbuzz0 said...

The reactors may not be able to get that much of a life extension but that means nothing of the plant. The steam turbines will run just fine off of any reactor. Many plants in the US have old reactors that have been retired but new reactors have been installed to replace them. They could just build new reactors at the existing plants and that only takes a couple of years.

They'd still need more plants than they have though.

That might not be politically possible though. Without new nuclear reactors though, they're not necessarily not going to be able to power the country. They'll just need more submarine cables to France, since they're not stupid about nuclear energy there.