Energy Gap Angle

In Angles on January 9, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Some of the biggest news at the moment in relation to the UK’s energy sector is focused on the idea of an energy gap.  This perspective again hit the headlines due to a study which found that many of the UK’s coal plants are going to close sooner than expected. These plants oppted out of the EU’s large combustion directive i.e they didnt want the expense of better pollution control. They where given a certain number of opporational hours before closing down. As they where ‘peaking’ plants at the time, this would have lasted them quite a few years but now that gas is more expensive and they are acting as baseload things are quite differnt.

The key question of course is how we meet this gap; and developing renewables and waste heat as a credible alternative has to be a priority for climate campaigners.

Bellow is a summary from the PA


Fears over power station closures

Power stations generating a tenth of the UK’s electricity capacity could be forced to close more than two years earlier than expected – stoking fears of blackouts, it was reported.

Some coal power plants have been running at historically high rates that would put them out of action by 2013, provoking concern over an energy “generation gap”, according to the Sunday Times.

Under EU rules companies operating old coal and oil-fired plants were given the option to upgrade them to comply with stringent emission limits.

Those plants for which it was uneconomic to upgrade were permitted to continue operating until 2016 and given 20,000 hours to run.

But the report, based on research from energy consultants Utilyx, said of the nine plants that opted out, five could be decommissioned by spring 2013 if they continue running at current rates.

Chris Bowden, chief executive of Utilyx, said when the plants made the decision not to upgrade they anticipated being “peaking plants”, used only at a time of maximum consumption and power prices.

“Now they are running as base-load providers,” he told the Sunday Times.

“The technology of some of these power stations would make them like classic cars, but now they are ready for the scrapheap.”

The affected coal-fired plants are Kingsnorth in Kent, owned by Eon, Scottish Power’s Cockenzie plant, Npower’s stations at Tilbury and Didcot, and Scottish & Southern’s Ferrybridge plant. It is understood the stations generate some 7.6 gigawatts of electricity – 10% of the UK’s total capacity.

According to the Sunday Times, the plant at Cockenzie, which generates enough power for 1 million homes, will close as early as September 2010 based on current rates.


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