19 February 2013
Europe’s largest engineers’ body has responded to warnings from Ofgem that British energy supplies are on a “roller-coaster” heading “downhill fast”.
Dr Simon Harrison from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: “Coal stations will be closing at a time when coal prices are low and gas prices higher.
“Gas is plentiful in the world, but the pipeline and/or liquefaction infrastructure does not exist to allow it to be freely transported from its source to the UK, meaning that while US gas prices are very low, gas is much more expensive in Europe including the UK.
“Other options such as new nuclear are some time from being available, and renewables in the UK are mostly relatively costly at present, although the industry is confident it can reduce prices if it can see visibility of large scale orders. A stable policy regime and confidence around decarbonisation targets is required to bring this investment forward.
“So in the short term we have little choice, and we need gas fired power plant to replace coal closures.
“In the longer term we need to take care to look at the energy system as a whole, maximising the opportunities to use less energy, and balancing use of the full range of low carbon energy sources to give us a clean energy system without vulnerability to price shocks. But doing so will not be cheap.”
Dr Simon Harrison is Chair of the IET’s Energy Policy Panel.
Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespersons.
The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.