A report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE) casts a worrying shadow over the UK’s ability to keep the lights on.
Existing Government policy of closing all coal-fired power stations, combined with retiring its ageing nuclear fleet, plus growing power demand leaves a 40-55% electricity supply gap to 2025.
“Government needs to take urgent action to work with industry to create a clear pathway with timeframes and milestones for new electricity infrastructure to be built,” said Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution.
As part of this, Baxter calls for a step change in the uptake of energy efficiency. “The UK National Infrastructure Commission must take urgent action to prioritise greater energy efficiency by industry, and clarify financial incentives for research and development of renewables, energy storage and combined heat and power.”
Efficiency top UK priority
After reducing demand, the Institution places energy efficiency second in its urgent list to prevent blackouts.
The report highlights the UK has neither the resources nor the skills to build new power stations, nuclear or otherwise, to fill the supply gap. Adding power capacity alone cannot work. Therefore, ‘New low carbon innovations must be supported over the course of the next 10 years,’ it argues.
But Baxter criticises insufficient UK incentives for companies to invest in any sort of electricity infrastructure or innovation. “Worryingly, even the Government’s own energy calculator does not allow for the scenarios that new energy policy points towards,” she comments.
The report’s key recommendations
- Reduce industry and public demand on the electricity system through engineering and energy efficiencies in processes and equipment
- Invest in research and development activities for renewables, energy storage, combined heat and power and innovation in power station design and build
- Deliver the construction of the ‘most likely’ new power infrastructure, along with growth in skills and knowledge within the UK to meet the increase in demand
“BG Energy Solutions stands ready and willing to provide the skills, equipment and expertise to build the UK’s energy efficient revolution today,” says Duncan Biggins, Managing Director of BG Energy Solutions.
“We simply cannot afford to wait any longer. This report is a clarion call to action on energy efficiency for us all.”