Fears of future power blackouts grow in the UK

By Diarmaid Williams, International Digital Editor, Power Engineering International

The chairman of the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, Tim Yeo, says government inaction means Britain is in danger of suffering energy shortages and blackouts in a few years.

Mr Yeo believes that the country has been compromised by relying on just one developer, EDF, to build new nuclear power plants, and is now under pressure to come to an agreement on price with the French-owned company.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today program, the Conservative MP said: "We've had a decade of neglect of nuclear policy, and we do need nuclear, it's an essential part of our energy mix."

"The danger is there's only one company ready to build nuclear power stations, and the negotiations which they're having with the government are at a crisis point, they may even fail - it will then be at least 10 or 12 years before any nuclear power stations are built in this country."

"The government seems to be crossing its fingers that private companies will deliver a fleet of new nuclear power stations on time and on budget. Ministers need to urgently come up with a contingency plan in case the nuclear industry does not deliver the new power stations we need."

Last month the outgoing chief executive of Ofgem, Alistair Buchanan warned that the UK will have to go shopping on world markets for gas to try to make up for the pending shortfall. He painted a stark picture of a scenario whereby nuclear power plants were over 10 years away, coal power plants were closing down and shale gas development was far from ready.

EDF Energy is in a stand-off with ministers over demands for higher prices for its energy, and work on the first potential reactor is likely to face further opposition, endangering the government's timetable for new nuclear power plant developments.

This article originally appeared in Power Engineering International. It was republished with permission.

 

 

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