The UK is heading for a severe electricity supply crisis by 2025, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) is warning today.
IME, which has more than 112,000 members in 140 countries says the closure of coal and nuclear plants would lead to a 40-55% shortfall amid growing demand.
And the group’s new report – Engineering the UK Electricity Gap – also says plans to plug the gap by building combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants are unrealistic as the UK would need about 30 of them in less than 10 years.
CCGT is a form of highly efficient energy generation technology which combines a gas-fired turbine with a steam turbine. It is a key part of the UK Government’s energy mix strategy.
Launching today’s report, IME head of energy and environment Jenifercorr Baxter, lead author of the document, said: “The UK is facing an electricity supply crisis.
“As the UK population rises and with the greater use of electricity use in transport and heating, it looks almost certain that electricity demand is going to rise.
“However, with little or no focus on reducing electricity demand, the retirement of the majority of the country’s ageing nuclear fleet, recent proposals to phase out coal-fired power by 2025 and the cut in renewable-energy subsidies, the UK is on course to produce even less electricity than it does at the moment.
“We cannot rely on CCGTs alone to plug this gap as we have neither the time, resources nor enough people with the right skills to build sufficient power plants.”
She added: “Imports will put the UK’s electricity supply at the mercy of the markets, weather and politics of other countries, making it less secure and less affordable.
“Currently there are insufficient incentives for companies to invest in any sort of electricity infrastructure or innovation and worryingly even the government’s own energy calculator does not allow for the scenarios that new energy policy points towards.
“Under current policy, it is almost impossible for UK electricity demand to be met by 2025.”
Today’s report urges the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to “assess the necessary incentives for industry and the public to reduce the demand on the electricity system through engineering efficiencies into processes and equipment, awareness-raising and advocacy”.
It also calls on NIC to “urgently implement the changes necessary across the industry and supply chain to deliver security of electricity supply”.
And it recommends a government/industry review of the supply chain’s capacity to deliver new power infrastructure.