It will not be long before the Grid is unable to meet the UK's demand for electricity, unless someone in authority takes decisive action.
Political attention needs to be focused on energy security. This winter, the country has needed more power than usual because of the unusually cold weather. The contribution from wind has been very poor; it has operated at approximately one twentieth of nominal capacity, and as low as 1% of nominal for a 24-hour period in the last week of February.
New nuclear stations are the only reliable alternative to fossil fuels. They are a decade away; so far as I know, there are still no firm orders placed. As perfectly serviceable coal stations close under externally-imposed EU rules, gas will become the dominant fuel for power generation and heating, both domestic and industrial. We are becoming too dependent on imported gas. We are the end of a very long pipeline which passes through many countries. Think of the implications.
We need an energy strategy which allows new coal-fired power stations to be built, with flue gas desulphurisation but no carbon capture. There is no commercial carbon capture facility of a decent size anywhere in the world, for the very good reason that it is a no-brainer - astronomically expensive, and based on the unproven belief that carbon dioxide harms the environment. There is no proof for this. None, not any of any kind.
Meanwhile politicians talk about energy schemes which cannot deliver the goods. Ever wonder why your gas and electricity bills keep going up? Look at the amount spent on renewables. You're paying for this.
Something which is certain is that we need to keep warm in the cold weather. Factories, hospitals, colleges and schools must stay open. We cannot afford three-day-weeks like we had in the 70s, and we should not become over-reliant on imported energy.
It is essential to get rapid planning consent for new power stations and gas-storage projects. We may also need research into new technologies, but not when we have an energy crisis to sort out. We have to keep the lights on.
Industry knows this, and so do the companies supplying our energy, but is anyone listening?
Nigel Deacon, habitat21 / 3Mar10
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