Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sparks effect at risk of fizzling out?

This insightful contribution from Thomas Docherty MP (Dunfermline and West Fife, Labour) in yesterday's Commons Energy Efficiency debate:

One thing that brings a wry smile to my face is hon. Members talking of the need for more railways and electric cars.

Those are admirable suggestions, and I support them, but it is never explained where we will get the energy to power those new electric trains and cars.

If we compare our consumption statistics with our supply statistics, the result is worrying. At its peak in 1998, the nuclear industry provided approximately 90,000 GWh. In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, that had fallen to 48,000 GWh, although it has risen again slightly since then. At the same time, many of our coal-powered stations are coming to the end of their lives.

By the end of the coming decade, all our Magnox nuclear power stations will have closed, as will almost all of the advanced gas-cooled reactor nuclear power stations and many of our coal-powered stations-either because of new European regulations on carbon emissions, which both sides of the House would support, or because they have simply come to the end of their lives.

I suggest that we need to understand that, although the aim of being more efficient in our energy consumption is laudable, we face a massive energy gap that needs to be addressed.

Eye fears that the greatest threat to further electrification may not be a shortage of money, but a lack of juice.