Ready for the power cuts?

Tony Blair recently said "energy prices have risen. Energy supply is under threat. Climate change is producing a sense of urgency".

Later in the same speech, he said

"By around 2020 the UK is likely to have seen decommissioning of coal and nuclear plants that generate over 30% of today's electricity supply."

According to the DTI website, the fuels used in generating electricity in 2004 were:
38% COAL (many older coalfired power stations don't meet EU standards - being phased out)
35% GAS (price going up; increasing amounts imported)
22% NUCLEAR (stations being phased out)
1% OIL

My comments:

Our coal mining industry has declined enormously since the 1980s. Much of our coal is imported. The future is therefore uncertain.

The future looks uncertain here, too. We import increasing amounts through a very long pipeline... the Russians recently said that they will not compromise our supply ... so they know it's an option.

Our own nuclear experts (the engineers who built Sizewell, Heysham, Torness, etc) are nearly all retired or deceased, so the only choice here is to buy foreign technology.

...so in a few years, we will have a serious energy deficit.

Tony Blair is aware of all of this, and has spoken of the importance of nuclear power in supplying our electricity.

But on their present record, it's unlikely our politicians have the ability to do much. They are incapable of speaking about nuclear power without raising the hackles of the media. Their record in dealing with vociferous minority groups (anti-nuclear, anti-drug research, etc) is not good, and there is hardly a scientist among them. Therefore we cannot rely on new nuclear stations being built in the short or medium term.

Big companies will probably feel the effects first. They will be disconnected at short notice from the gas or electricity supply, for hours or days, so the domestic supply is not compromised.

Informing the public is unlikely to be a priority. A failing power supply is not a vote-catcher.

In the light of this, what can we do?

I'd recommend the following::

1) Reduce energy consumption. Fit low energy bulbs, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, etc.

2)Think about installing a stand-alone electricity supply which will run backup lighting, a computer, and which will keep the programmers on your boiler / water heating / central heating running normally. You could go for a wind turbine, photovoltaics, or a mixture of the two.

3)Consider getting a diesel generator.

Sorry this sounds negative, but we need to be realistic.

ND / Habitat21

Back to top

Energy Policy
Fuel to Electricity
Nuclear Power
Wind Turbines