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Power-cut threat to the UK

A committee of MPs claims Britain could face widespread power-cuts unless there is urgent investment in a new fleet of gas-fired power stations.

With almost a quarter of the country's current electrical generating capacity due to be decommissioned by 2016, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee said that there was not time to wait for a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The committee also warned the need to cut damaging "greenhouse gas" emissions meant the era of cheap energy was coming to an end as old fossil fuels were replaced by cleaner technologies.

The Government's energy review, due later this year, is widely expected to recommend a return to nuclear power generation in what the committee said would be a "major U-turn" in energy policy.

However with the first of any new nuclear plants not coming on stream until 2017 at the earliest, while the full generating capacity of such a programme may not be available until 2030, the committee said the country would still face a "generating gap".

"Over the next nine years, therefore, very substantial investment in new generating capacity and energy efficiency will be required if the lights are to stay on - even in the absence of demand growth," it said.

The committee said that the shortfall would have to be met through an "extensive programme" of new gas-fired power... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
With almost a quarter of the country's current electrical generating capacity due to be decommissioned by 2016, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee said that there was not time to wait for a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The committee also warned the need to cut damaging "greenhouse gas" emissions meant the era of cheap energy was coming to an end as old fossil fuels were replaced by cleaner technologies.

The Government's energy review, due later this year, is widely expected to recommend a return to nuclear power generation in what the committee said would be a "major U-turn" in energy policy.

However with the first of any new nuclear plants not coming on stream until 2017 at the earliest, while the full generating capacity of such a programme may not be available until 2030, the committee said the country would still face a "generating gap".

"Over the next nine years, therefore, very substantial investment in new generating capacity and energy efficiency will be required if the lights are to stay on - even in the absence of demand growth," it said.

The committee said that the shortfall would have to be met through an "extensive programme" of new gas-fired power stations, supplemented by a significant growth in renewable energy sources such as wind power.

Tony Blair is thought to favour the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations as a way of cutting Britain's carbon dioxide emissions which lead to global warming.

However the committee said that the development of new, cleaner gas-fired stations meant that a new "dash for gas" would not necessarily result in an increase in carbon emissions.

In the longer term, the committee questioned whether a return to nuclear power was the the right strategy to meet the country's energy needs.

Issues concerning the disposal of nuclear waste, the future availability of uranium and the carbon emissions associated with nuclear - as well as the public acceptability of such a programme - still needed to be dealt with.

At the same time, it said that it was "scandalous" that so little progress had been made in developing alternative technologies such as "carbon capture" which could drastically reduce the emissions from fossil fuels.

With the right investment, renewable energy sources could deliver up to 20% of the country's electricity by 2020.

"With the possibilities afforded by energy efficiency, renewables, distributed generation, and carbon capture and storage, it is abundantly clear that new nuclear build is not the only option for lower-carbon electricity generation within the UK. Indeed, the Government is spoilt for choice," the committee said.

The committee said that ministers needed to provide "far more decisive action and political leadership" in terms of adopting energy saving measures in reducing consumption.

Members complained at the lack of transparency in the way that the energy review was being conducted.

They said that the Government needed to explain to the public that cleaner energy would ultimately mean higher prices.

"Governments should make clear to consumers and taxpayers that low-carbon technologies have an explicit price premium: we cannot move to low-carbon power generation on the basis of cheap energy," the committee said.

The committee chairman Tim Yeo urged ministers to return to the strategy laid out in the Energy White Paper of 2003 which focused on energy efficiency and renewables as the cornerstones of a sustainable energy policy.

"The Government must be far more imaginative and radical in pursuing the twin goals of the Energy White Paper - energy efficiency and renewables," he said.

"The last three years since the White Paper have been something of a wasted opportunity."


Source: http://www.24dash.com/conte...

APR 16 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2172-power-cut-threat-to-the-uk
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