Greater support and a policy shift for renewables is needed to negate the threat of power outages, is the message to government amid dire warnings from the National Grid of possible blackouts.
The energy capacity margin could fall as low as 1.2 percent this winter – significantly worse than the four percent available 12 months ago, which threatened brown outs for intensive energy users.
Capacity is being lost as older polluting power stations are decommissioned, and the UK strives to meeting legally binding carbon reduction targets.
Against this worrying backdrop, the green energy sector is calling for a longer term and more sustainable response than the National Grid’s current emergency measures to bring dormant fossil fuel plants back online.
But industry leaders point to the increased investment required for renewables in order to bridge the gap following the withdrawal of the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind, and the challenges of connecting intermittent supply to an ageing infrastructure.
“The challenge lies in how to connect renewable sources while maintaining security of supply and affordability,” said David Lewis, energy efficiency expert at Sneider Electric.
“But necessity is the mother of invention. We cannot overlook the huge opportunities of smarter energy. We’re running out of time and money if we’re seeking to meet our winter needs with new sources. Our response to the capacity crunch needs to be smarter and more efficient to bring demand back under control.”
Paul McCullagh, CEO of UrbanWind, added: “Following the government’s decision to withdraw the Renewable Obligation scheme for onshore wind, citing that we have enough wind power, this demonstrates that this is simply not the case.
“Onshore wind is one of the cheapest and most readily deployable methods of generation that we have available to us, as well as being a low carbon solution. Instead of capitalising on this, we are forced to take the expensive option to pay mothballed power stations to be put on standby, essentially paying them for nothing for large periods of time.”