Engineers predict huge power ‘gap’

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Plans to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025, the retirement of nuclear power stations and growing demand for electricity will leave the UK facing a supply gap of up to 55 per cent, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The Engineering the UK Electricity Gap report says plans to plug the gap by building Combined Cycle Gas Turbine plants are unrealistic, as the UK would need to build about 30 in less than 10 years.

The UK has built just four in the last 10 years and closed one, as well as closing eight other power stations, the report states.

In addition, in 2005 20 nuclear sites were listed for decommissioning, leaving a significant gap to be filled.

According to the report, the country has neither the resources nor enough people with the right skills to build this many power stations in time. It is already too late for any other nuclear reactors to be planned and built by the coal ‘shut-off’ target of 2025, other than Hinkley Point C.

The report also highlights that a greater reliance on importing electricity from Europe and Scandinavia is likely to lead to higher electricity costs and less energy security.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 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.

“The UK is on course to produce even less electricity than it does at the moment. We cannot rely on gas turbine plants alone to plug this gap, as we have neither the time, resources nor enough people with the right skills to build them.”