UK Energy Minister warns country faces generation drought

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry says the country must put its faith in nuclear power and admitted yesterday that, historically, Britain’s energy sector had failed to deliver investment opportunities.

And he said unless the current – and successive – governments address this, a power crunch was going to happen.

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry

“There will be pinch points in the future when there will not be enough generation to go round. That is the scenario that brings down governments – I will be sacked on the day the lights go out.”

He said that key to keeping blackouts at bay was a revival of the UK’s nuclear industry – Britain has eight sites earmarked as potential new nuclear plants. He said the government was working to “remove the barriers and create a stable environment” for a nuclear renaissance, and claimed that a year after Fukushima public support for nuclear in the UK was at “the highest level it has ever been”.

He said he was committed to renewables and the government was also in talks with Norway, Iceland and Ireland over interconnections to ramp up security of supply.

Speaking at the Marketforce Future of Utilities conference in London, Hendry added that he was determined that the UK would “lead the world” in carbon capture and storage. Last year Europe’s largest CCS project became operational at Ferrybridge power plant in Yorkshire.

However, Hendry said CCS was not “just about pilot schemes. We don’t want to find a range of worthy projects that we cannot take forward.”

He said it was essential that the industry innovation and investor backing was in place to put CCS on the energy map and added that the UK’s energy challenge “is as much about technology as it is about sources of fuel. We have to reinvent the way we do business in this country.”

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