Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fears about Possible Blackouts Are Rising

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fears about Possible Blackouts Are Rising

Article excerpt

FURTHER concerns have been raised about potential future electricity shortages by two of the region's leading energy industry figures.

Meanwhile, the National Grid has unveiled proposals to cope with potential electricity supply shortfalls in a little over a year.

This involves paying customers not to use power and creating a back-up reserve of diesel-powered generators - measures which have been described as akin to those of a third-world country As the UK aims to hit its target of garnering 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, there is growing concern over a looming shortage of capacity.

Tilbury in Essex is the latest coal-fired plant to close this year and with emissions regulations meaning most of the UK's coal-fired power capacity is coming off line over the next few years, there are concerns that the nation may face power cuts.

The National Grid says the winter evenings of 2014/15 and 2015/16 are the time when Britain will be most at risk. It estimates the margin of spare generating capacity could fall to as low as 4% and the risk of some disconnections could be as high as 50%.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery sits on Westminster's Committee for Energy and Climate Change and argues that the energy firms should be allowed to run their coal-fired power stations beyond current deadlines.

He said: "There is real concern about blackouts and we should be prepared to seek amendments to laws which say we should stop using coal.

"There is a real opportunity and we should extend the life of our coal-fired power plants until we have the new generation of gas plants and nuclear."

Lord Ridley, from the Blagdon Estate in Northumberland, a leading science journalist and author, said: "As we close down coal and gas power stations faster than expected, while failing to open nuclear or offshore wind stations fast enough, forecasts show that there will come a risky moment in a few years' time when we may struggle to meet peak demand. …

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