Wiser to spread our bets than gamble it all on gas power

From: David Bowe, Silverdale Mount, Guiseley.

The Government has announced that it intends to allow the building of up to 30 new gas-fired power stations. Between them, they will provide over 50 per cent of the nation’s energy needs. They will replace ageing nuclear power stations and coal fired power stations, forced to close due to the new environmental regulation. This seems to me to be a classic example of “putting all your eggs in one basket”.

Enthralled by the possibility of a shale gas bonanza and believing gas-fired power stations to be a painless way of meeting our CO2 reduction targets, the Government is moving away from a strategy of maintaining a balance of energy supplies from nuclear, gas, coal and renewable sources. This represents a huge gamble with the security of the nation’s energy supply.

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Given the unpredictable nature of markets, making it impossible to forecast the future price of gas and acknowledging that it is as yet to be proven that shale gas is available for extraction in the quantities needed. Then we must continue to ensure that other sources of energy gain access to the UK energy market.

Improvements in the efficiency of renewable energy generation still need to be made to bring down costs. At the same time, the installation of super-critical boilers and (in the longer term) the introduction of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technology is needed to ensure coal fired power plants meet environmental and CO2 targets.

These would be strategically sensible measures to ensure a balanced and more secure energy policy for the country.

In recent years when energy demand peaks in the winter months, coal has been preferred as the reliable, economical fuel of choice. It would be the actions of a wise man and an even wiser government to spread their bets and not gamble the future security of our nation’s energy supply on gas.

From: Chayley Collis, Meltham

THE Government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change have just issued a report warning that household energy bills will be about £600 higher per year in the coming decades if the UK relies increasingly on gas, but would only be £100 higher than today’s average dual fuel bill of about £1,300, if the country concentrated on renewable power generation, such as wind power.

The committee’s findings contradict the Government’s argument that gas will in future provide a cheap source of electricity and heating.

David Kennedy, the chief executive of the committee, said: “You hear a lot about the costs of moving to low-carbon power systems [such as wind and solar energy] but not much about the benefits. What we are showing is that a key benefit is the insurance you get against potentially very high gas prices and rising carbon prices.”

He has also said that said paying £100 more by 2020 for renewables was “a sensible insurance” against paying potentially £600 more for a reliance on gas.

These findings would also add to the case for a clear de-carbonisation target within the forthcoming Energy Bill currently going through Parliament.