In its first annual Electricity Capacity Assessment, Ofgem (the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets) has published worrying statistics which suggest that Britain could be facing severe power shortage risks as soon as winter 2015. The report states that in three years’ time the country could be lacking in power of almost 30,000 megawatt hours, equivalent to the annual demand of approximately 9,000 households. It also mentions the possibility of blackouts. Though the chance of blackouts (the likes of which were seen in the crisis of the 1970s) is currently estimated at 0.03%, it is thought that it could increase to over 8% in the next three years. The report also predicted that in this same time period, the amount of spare energy capacity could fall from 14% to 4%.
In the light of its study, Ofgem is now calling for more investment in fresh generating capacity. Its chief executive, Alistair Buchanan, said, “the unprecedented challenges in facing Britain’s energy industry…to attract the investment to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy supplies for consumers, still remain.” Following the report, the trade union Prospect has called for government action to ensure that power shortages do not become an issue for the UK. Greenpeace has also voiced its concerns, but has emphasised that the assessment “sends out a clear warning that we need to reduce demand” rather than build new power stations.
The government had been hoping to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, but plans have been stalled since Chinese, German and other major investors have begun pulling back from expected UK investment. It has, however, reassured the nation that there will be a secure supply of power in the country, ensured by its forthcoming Energy Bill. Ed Davey, the government’s Energy Secretary, said that the government would respond to the Ofgem report before the end of the year.
Sources include: The Guardian, BBC News, The Daily Mail
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