Energy Crunch Looms in Britain

by William Yeatman on September 23, 2008

Evidence is mounting in Britain that the Labor Party’s policy of replacing conventional sources of energy with renewables is leading to a major energy crunch.

Currently, Britain gets three-fourths of its electricity from natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. But domestic production of natural gas in the North Sea has peaked and is declining rapidly, and the Labor Party intends to retire by 2016 coal and nuclear power plants that now generate a third of Britain’s electricity. The plants will be shut down largely to comply with European Union environmental regulations.

To keep the lights on, the Labor Party plans to rely on renewable energy sources, which the government promises will generate 40 % of Britain’s electricity by 2020.

However, a number of recent studies cast doubt on the feasibility of Labor’s 2020 target. In July, the non-partisan Renewable Energy Foundation released a report warning that “a near fatal preoccupation with politically attractive but marginal forms of renewables seems to have caused a blindness towards the weakening of the UK’s power stations.” The report predicted steep increases in energy bills.

Last week, Iain Fells, emeritus professor of energy conversion at the University of Newcastle, issued a report, “A Pragmatic Energy Policy for the UK,” which states that the 2020 renewable energy targets were “demonstrably unattainable.” Prof. Fells warned of massive, disruptive blackouts if Britain continued with its current energy policy. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: