To plug the predicted shortfall of electricity in the next decade, the UK government should consider extending the lifespan of coal and nuclear facilities, says a veteran energy policy analyst.
Ian Fells, emeritus professor at the University of Newcastle, in a report, stated that the energy shortfall could dent the country's economy, leading to businesses crashing and hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs in the next decade.
The impending energy gap will be caused by the closure of the UK's old nuclear and coal-fired power stations over the next decade. The report indicates that the UK will lose a third of electricity generating capacity in this time either due to old age power stations or European Union carbon emissions restrictions that come into force in 2015.
Fells says that to fill the impending shortage of energy, the country should build more nuclear power stations and keep the existing and ageing nuclear and coal plants going. Citing the 12 hour power cut in London in 2003, due to which the country sufferred financial losses upto almost £700 million, Fells warned that the country would be be hit by repeated power cuts in the future if the problem was not tackled quickly.
The report also said that renewables will not be able to cope with the electricity demands of the country and the UK was set to fall far short of its own target of getting 10 per cent of its electricity from renewables such as wind and waves by 2010. "Gas is getting politically and geographically dangerous to rely upon. Security of supply must take priority over everything including climate change," the report added.
Environmentalists argued that the rest of the world was forging ahead with renewables to tackle climate changes while Britain has been left behind by proposing projects such as renewal of coal-fired power stations, which was against the inetersts of the scientific community and large scale conversion of coal into fuel would only pollute the climate.
However, Fells feels that securing the country's supply of electricity is more important than tackling climate change. He criticised proposed renewable energy schemes and wants the government to come up with newer energy policies. He insisted that the government should stop imposing climate tax on nuclear power. Instead the government should highlight a long-term need for new nuclear power stations and coal-fired stations with ready to fit technology to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground to maintain future energy security in the UK.
Fells wants the UK government to also give the go-ahead for the Severn Barrage, a tidal generation system that could produce up to 5 per cent of the UK's electricity needs.
Fells' report also suggested laying transmission lines to Norway, Germany and Denmark and also an additional line to France. "That would mean we were properly connected up to Europe. That would add a great deal of comfort and security, provided there was someone there to make.