The news of surging gas prices in the UK further highlights that we need a better energy mix to meet our ambitious net zero target by 2050 and achieve security of supply.
No single generation technology provides a perfect solution. To put this into perspective, the UK power generation figures on the 22nd September 2021 looked like this:
- Gas 41%
- Wind 18%
- Nuclear 16%
- Solar 8%
- Biomass 5%
- Other 12%
These figures show a reliance on Combined Cycle Gas Turbine electricity generation and if there is a fall in capacity from other sources i.e. Wind, Nuclear, etc. then this gap is usually filled with Gas, further unbalancing the energy mix.
Within our Energy and Infrastructure Report, we said that to meet the government’s ambitious plans for net zero by 2050, renewable energy will play a central role, but we need both gas with carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and nuclear power to complement renewables. Consider that the UK's nuclear generating capacity of about 20% will be halved by 2025 as some existing stations are retired. This gap cannot be filled by renewables alone or gas, and new nuclear builds will be critical to ensuring security of supply.
Gleeds has expert insight in this area as we support new nuclear build clients, including EdF on construction of Hinkley Point C, but we need more large and small-scale nuclear generation. What's the main barrier then? In short, financing high project development and build costs, and this means the government must provide a funding model to make the sector more attractive for private investment.
The electricity system is incredibly complex, but what has probably surprised most people is the knock-on effects of high gas prices putting domestic energy companies and food supply chains at risk. For one, food supply chains rely on CO2 (a by-product from fertiliser production that utilises natural gas), and this is just a glimpse at the wide-ranging impact energy has on our everyday lives. If the UK’s power generation overly relies on gas, this raises demand, which affects wholesale price, other industries, and potentially the more vulnerable within our communities.
If you would like to read more on Gleed’s insight into this area, check out our energy and infrastructure report.
Consider that the UK's nuclear generating capacity of about 20% will be halved by 2025 as some existing stations are retired. This gap cannot be filled by renewables alone or gas, and new nuclear builds will be critical to ensuring security of supply.