Could Britain face an “energy gap”, where we simply do not have enough power to keep the lights on? The Institute of Civil Engineers is one of the organisations that thinks so.
“Investment is needed now to plug an energy gap that may be with us in less than five years and to meet very demanding emission reduction targets,” a recent report by the Institute on UK infrastructure concluded.
In the next 10 years, eight nuclear power stations will come to the end of their functioning life. A further eight gigawatts of capacity will be lost when six coal-fired power stations close (by 2015 at the latest) because they are too polluting to comply with the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive, and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has just announced that any new coal-fired plants must be fitted with (as yet undeveloped) carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Yet high-speed electric trains and electric cars will increase demand for electricity.
Following the introduction of the Climate Change Act in 2008, the UK is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Meeting this target will mean basing much new energy infrastructure around renewable energy, particularly offshore wind power.
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