Is the UK facing an electricity crisis?

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Britain’s energy strategy, as set out by the Government, is to replace its old coal fired and nuclear power stations with a blend of renewables and new gas fired power stations.
 
But the Government is failing to meet this ambition. The 2012 Gas Generation Strategy estimated that 26 GW of new gas generation would be needed by 2030. Yet the actual amount of new domestic capacity being created is falling well short.
 
Britain has therefore begun – with little public acknowledgment – to import an increasing amount of electricity from continental Europe. It is now projected that the UK will receive 67 TWh of power from undersea interconnectors by 2030, which is a tenfold increase in the projection made in 2012. 
 
‘The Hidden Wiring’ by Tony Lodge and Daniel Mahoney – due to be published by the Centre for Policy Studies on Monday, 23rd October – shows why a move towards a greater reliance on imported electricity could be problematic.
 
Its key conclusions include that:
 

  • Interconnector capacity will almost quadruple by 2030, allowing 20 per cent of UK electricity to be imported from Europe.
  • Interconnectors can be a useful way of delivering secure and cheap supplies across Europe, given they can be used to import and export. But in Britain’s case it is increasingly one-way traffic. In the 12 months to March 2017, the UK imported 17.22 TWh but only exported 2.78 TWh.
  • There are concerns about growing reliance on imported electricity from Europe as surplus supplies there decline. This is particularly the case in light of the German elections. Germany is already decommissioning its nuclear plants. If the Greens form part of the governing coalition, as is likely, they will demand the closure of fossil-fuel plants.

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