Recently we have discussed how the UK is in a fairly poor position in regards to meeting it’s 2020 renewable power targets and how other countries such as Germany and Italy due to long term investments in such areas as
The UK’s Capacity Is Set To Fall Below 2% By 2015
This is primarily due say Ofgem to sever under investment on all fronts of the energy sector. Such a deterioration will lead the UK in the coming years to have the worst capacity levels within the EU. Assertions that development and investment has been overdue for a number of years claim many within the industry and while new power stations are now either in final stage discussions or work has commenced the lack of development in conventional and under investment in renewable energy up until this point has left the country in a dangerous position.
What is Energy Capacity And Why Is It Important
Energy capacity is the level of reserves within the system after the grid is working to maximum predicted UK levels. What this means is that if the system is operating at peak levels and then there is an energy surge for whatever reason then there is actually only a 2% overflow to facilitate this extra demand. This is particularly concerning for the government given there persistent claims that the lights will stay on in the UK amidst growing concern from providers and energy groups.
Can The Capacity Be Increased Quickly
With investment this can defiantly be achieved how quickly though depends on firstly the level of investment and secondly managing the pre-existing infrastructure degradation given that in the coming years there are a number of nuclear plants that are due to be decommissioned which given the current forecast figures couldn’t have come at more difficult period. Due to the red tape that is involved with giving such new nuclear plants the go ahead the government has come under criticism for not investing more in solar panels, wind power, hydro, biomass and more solutions given the appetite of the nation for cheaper energy bills. Such consistent investment in solar PV in Germany has recently led the to the country now recording it’s lowest electricity bills in nine years. Thus capacity level with in Germany are also at a record high.
Are Power Shortages Likely Within The UK
Given the assertions from Centrica (UK’s leading energy solution supplier) of investment grounding to a halt you would be safe to assume that in the coming years the energy grid of the UK is in for a turbulent time. With now the talk of previously decommissioned power plants being recommissioned should the situation get any worse this could be described as a short term move to fix a big problem and one that would no go down well with the suppliers and speculators alike given the cost of performing such an action while at the same time such capital could be invested in hydro, wind, solar power and more for the long term.
How Will Meeting Our 2020 Carbon Targets Effect Our Capacity
One of the biggest threats to increasing capacity further is the UK being signed up to the EU carbon emissions targets and the potential penalties this can carry. The reason this should be highlighted is that a number of the UK’s existing coal fired power stations require modernizing to meet objectives while also yet again more of them are set for closure for coming to the end of their life which again will add to the capacity issue. Thus with the 2016 carbon deadline approaching the UK government could be set for some tough decisions.
The Scotland Factor
Another key area is the issue regarding Scotland and the potential effects that the country becoming independent will add to the capacity issue given that the country has a substantial renewable power infrastructure not so much around solar PV but their on and offshore wind generation would be a huge loss not only to carbon targets but also to 2020 renewable targets should the country decide to go it alone.
Will The Lights Stay On
Ultimately given the chancellor’s recent energy spending plans be it the attempts to the make the most of the existing fossil fuels or the renewed investment within the green energy sector it appears the issue is at the forefront of the government’s plans. As we have recently discussed how and when the government will look to issue capital for renewable projects will be further scrutinized; will they look to build on the consistently growing domestic solar PV market, wind energy or others. Or will they go down the more controversial route of shale and nuclear, thus the coming years will represent some seriously difficult decisions.