There's a classic "report out today" from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers - probably to be soon dissmissed as special pleading, one imagines, though they get a bit of press coverage. The numbers ought to be a bit sobering.
"the retirement of the majority of the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet by 2025 and growing electricity demand will leave the UK facing a 40-55% electricity supply gap"They might not be right about the growing demand, as it happens, but that's a tiny factor compared to the closures, most of which are pretty much set in stone. The Engineers are a bit confused as to how the problem they've identified is to be fixed:
"plans to plug the gap by building Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plants are unrealistic, as the UK would need to build about 30 new CCGT plants in less than 10 years ... the country has neither the resources nor enough people with the right skills to build this many power stations in time"That's us f****d, then, because there is no other plausible solution. The Engineers have a suggestion of their own:
"Government needs to take urgent action to work with industry to create a clear pathway with timeframes and milestones for new electricity infrastructure to be built including fossil fuel plants, nuclear power, energy storage and combined heat and power. With CCS now out of the picture, new low carbon innovations must be supported over the course of the next 10 years"But if we don't have the "resources nor people" for 30 CCGTs - pretty quick & straightforward compared to nukes, storage and "new low carbon innovations" - how does that help? At least they are right about CCS ...
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So - when does anyone get up off their arse? Trouble is, the National Grid is just too good at applying the sticking plasters. Really good at it - spraying our money around (and taking a % for themselves) on all manner of finger-in-the-dyke schemes and scams. With a bit of luck (I almost said 'with a following wind ...') they can keep that trick going for, what, maybe a couple more winters? Then people will start to notice. At very least it will be a genuine issue at the next election.
Lead-time for just the construction of a serious power plant (> 400 MW) is 3 years - and that's if you have all your ducks in a row (ordered the turbines, got all the permits etc etc). It's hard to imagine what nuke-and-frack-obsessive Osborne plans to do about it all, seeing that neither of those technologies will contribute a single extra kWh by winter 2019-20. If he comes up with a new scheme this year to throw money at CCGT developers (I'm predicting he will), and it finds immediate uptake (rather less likely), he might just get two gas start-ups by then. But I doubt it.
UPDATE: EDF running away from the decision on Hinkley - again. Laughably, the Grauniad says:
"The opening of Hinkley Point C has been delayed twice, from 2017 to 2025"Twice? It's been delayed twice a year, every year since they bought British Energy back in '08. And to think they gave the Chief Frog an honorary knighthood. Refund, I should say.