Blackout fears as Britain runs short of power
POWER cuts are set to become frequent again as nuclear and coal-fired power stations are closed to meet green targets, energy regulator Ofgem warned yesterday.
By 2015 there will be only two per cent spare electricity capacity and the risk of supplies being interrupted will be 10 times higher.
Millions of homes could be blacked out every four years. At present the risk is only one in 47 years. The last time Britain suffered prolonged power cuts was in the Seventies.
Mark Todd, founder of website energyhelpline.com, said: “We could be looking at a return to the days of regular blackouts. This could be the Government’s green policy spectacularly backfiring. It’s a very worrying situation – time to start stocking up on candles.”
Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy conversion at Newcastle University, said: “We have been warning of this for four years. It takes just one power station to stop, which happens when things go wrong, and there won’t be enough to replace the lost energy.
“Successive Governments have known about this imminent problem but just pretended it wasn’t going to happen and now we are facing a serious situation.”
Ofgem said urgent reform was needed to encourage energy companies to increase investment in generation. Some gas-fired plants are being mothballed due to lack of profitability.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it planned to give investors incentives to increase storage capacity through a system of auctions next year. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “This will be an insentive to investment in new gas plant in order to maintain an adequate supply margin for 2018 onwards.”
But experts say relying on gas imports could push electricity bills up 20 per cent by the end of next year.
Dr Monica Giulietti, from Warwick Business School, said: “The wholesale gas price will rise and that will eventually be passed on to consumers.”
“ I think most children in the 70s enjoyed power cuts, I think we will all think different now though” says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire.