Energy crisis – cancellations risk leaving 20 million homes in the dark
By TruePublica: Amid the political implosion of the Conservative party that continues to leave Britain with not just a constitutional crisis but a crisis on just about every aspect of responsible government such as the continuing decline of health services, social care, homelessness, poverty et all, yet another crisis is building in the background that threatens Britain’s national security – keeping the lights on.
The Resilience of UK Infrastructure document, published in 2010 by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (HERE – pdf) noted at the time there was a need to invest. “The national infrastructure is a highly interconnected network both within and between sectors. Failure in one area can spread unexpectedly to others. The need to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets, such as the 80% emission reduction by 2050, to replace ageing infrastructure and respond to population rise and changing patterns of demand are also key motives for investment.”
The document covers what was at the time concern over the environment and climate change in general. There were major references to Britain’s energy supply weaknesses in this regard, but also of supply in general. Some of the supply need is critical to other services such as power required to pump water to cities, towns and small communities.
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“According to the plan, meeting these targets will require a five-fold increase of renewable energy on current levels and replacement of existing nuclear power stations, all but one of which are due to close by 2023. In addition, investment in electricity transmission to serve new assets is needed.”
In a background of a recognised ageing energy infrastructure, internal reports confirming the need for investment to bolster the overall supply of electricity amid rising demand comes the cancellation of several important energy infrastructure projects. These cancellations risk leaving as many as 20 million UK homes in the dark. This does not take into account the economy as businesses would be affected and life-saving critical systems.
From a domestic point of view – these cancellations are equal to around three-quarters of British households.
New figures obtained by Labour show that energy infrastructure projects cancelled or blocked under the Tories would have generated enough energy each year to power more than 20 million homes.
In the last six months alone, the Government has reneged on plans to build three new nuclear power plants which would have powered 17 million homes each year.
And yet the government’s own reports states:
“The threats to National Infrastructure associated with climate change are likely to be exacerbated by concurrent demographic change as greater demand reduces spare capacity. The UK population is projected to reach 71.6 million by 2033, an increase of 16.6% from 2008; much of this will occur in London (19.8% increase) and the South East of England (20.1% increase).”
In June 2018 the Government axed plans for the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea Bay – enough to power nearly 150,000 homes each year.
And the Government’s ban on onshore wind, introduced in 2015, is blocking nearly 800 shovel-ready onshore wind projects – enough to power more than three million homes each year.
As mentioned in the government document, most of Britain’s remaining nuclear power stations are set to be closed in the 2020s, with Labour warning of an imminent energy gap if the Government does not secure further investment in energy infrastructure.
The government’s recent sector deal set out an ambition for offshore wind to deliver “up to” 30 gigawatts of energy by 2030, but failed to establish concrete targets or bring forward substantial new investment.
Labour has pledged to approve the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, remove barriers to onshore wind, and support new nuclear as part of a sustainable and secure energy mix.
The party also say that, when in Government, it would create 400,000 new jobs through a ‘green industrial revolution’.
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary, said:
“These figures show that the Tories risk failing in one of the first duties of any Government – keeping the lights on.
“When the Wylfa plant was cancelled Greg Clark announced an energy white paper for summer 2019 – six months down the line. That’s the sign of a Government absorbed in its own meltdown, not the real issues facing our country.
“Ministers should come clean to the public about the gaping hole in their plans and what that means for our energy security.
“Labour has been consistent in its support for nuclear as part of our energy mix, calling on the government to take a public stake in new nuclear projects.
“We would end the short-sighted and ideological Tory ban on onshore wind and mobilise huge investments in renewable energy.”