Blackouts to hit UK according to media
As we approach winter each year, you can guarantee that there will be talk in the media of “UK Energy Blackouts”. The theory is that we maintain a tight system of energy supply. The lights will go off because we have sat back and done nothing about the difficulties facing UK energy supply.
It never happens though. We manage to make it through each year unscathed. Now, I’m not saying for a moment that we aren’t facing issues surrounding energy supply, but I do feel it is blown out of proportion sometimes with people only too happy to give their opinions on doomsday scenarios.
Looking at the cold hard facts, Britain has and will continue to face issues with winter supply levels. Some root causes of potential shortages include:
- The closure of coal-fired power stations.
- Reliance on power/gas from Europe – a system we cannot control.
- Lack of progress in building gas-fired power stations.
- Potential lack of wind for existing infrastructure.
- The dwindling resources from the North Sea (combined with a poor oil price scenario).
But let’s not forget that Britain has done a huge amount to prepare for a supply squeeze:
- Hinkley Point go-ahead.
- Electricity Market Reform – Contracts for Difference and Capacity Mechanism.
- Driving change in energy consumption culture – CRC and ESOS.
- Huge investment in renewable technologies.
- Commencing a review of a flexible energy system.
Yes, there are things that could have been managed better. The delay in Hinkley was obviously a concern and we could have prepared better for the shutdown of coal-fired power stations. But transitions for projects of this size are always going to run into problems.
Looking at the current state of play, I believe the UK is in a very strong position for moving into a new era for energy generation. The steps being put in place by the Government will reduce our reliance on the rest of the world for energy, protecting security of supply. We are using less energy than we were 10 years ago – both per capita and in total as a nation. We are also moving into an era where we can become more intelligent with how we use and conserve energy.
Sometimes it’s worth standing back and taking a look at the progress that has been made in this country; moving away from conventional fossil fuel generation and an attitude of consumption-over-conservation. It’s very easy to criticise and catastrophize when the going gets tough and supply gets squeezed. However, it won’t be long until these kinds of concerns are a thing of the past.
I hope we’re just as quick to praise the people and organisations who get us to that point as we are to criticise right now.