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Power Station by Martin Kelly
Power Station by Martin Kelly

UK energy predicament deepens

New government energy projections show Britain running out of energy before new capacity can be brought on stream.

Most obviously, coal generation is due to be phased out by 2022.  Less obviously, the government is projecting that its favoured gas generation is expected to fall significantly in 2017 and to continue declining until the mid-2020s.  Nuclear capacity is not expected to expand until at least the mid-2020s, with new projects like the troubled Hinkley Point C coming into operation.  Renewables will have to double.  But even if they do, they still will not meet demand.

According to the projections, Britain will have to import a quarter of its electricity by 2025.  This implies a 400 percent increase in interconnection capacity – about as credible as expecting all of those nuclear projects to come in on-time and in-budget.  And even if the interconnector capacity could be built in the time available, there is no guarantee that our nearest neighbours will have the spare capacity in their own systems to meet Britain’s needs as well.  For example, the French and Belgian nuclear industry is currently struggling to remain profitable following the discovery of faults in the older reactors.  If there is not enough electricity to go around, do we really imagine a French or Belgian government supplying electricity to Britain while its own citizens shiver in the dark?

The reality is that the wonks at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy have used hypothetical imports to balance an otherwise busted energy account; hoping, no doubt, that the mainstream media assume all is well.  Meanwhile, we can only guess at the quantity of Temazepam being consumed by civil servants charged with keeping the lights on into the 2020s with no obvious means of doing so.

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