One of Britain’s leading energy providers warned yesterday that Britain will need substantial fossil fuel generation to back up the renewable energy it needs to meet European Union targets. The UK has to meet a target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020.
E.ON said that it could take 50 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation to meet the EU target. But it would require up to 90% of this amount as backup from coal and gas plants to ensure supply when intermittent renewable supplies were not available. That would push Britain’s installed power base from the existing 76 gigawatts to 120 gigawatts.
Paul Golby, E.ON UK’s chief executive, declined to be drawn on how much the expansion would cost, beyond saying it would be “significant”. Industry sources estimate the bill for additional generation could be well in excess of £50bn.
E.ON’s calculations are part of what the company calls its energy manifesto – designed to draw attention to what Golby described as Britain’s “trilemma” – balancing the priorities of carbon, costs and energy security.
“We are calling for a new balanced and honest debate about the UK’s energy needs, one that truly assesses the consequences in terms of carbon, cost and security of our energy choices.
E.ON is investing or has plans to invest in a series of new generation projects including wind, marine, gas and coal and has indicated interest in new nuclear stations. Golby said he wanted to to confront single-issue campaigners.
“It is easy to say ‘no’ to coal, easy to say ‘no’ to nuclear. I’m quite interested in what they are going to say ‘yes’ to.”
4 June 2008
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