20th August 2012 | Posted by: Daniel Birkett | Industry News

While there is no shortage of power capacity in the UK at the moment, the Telegraph questions whether this may change in the future. At present, there is almost 89 gigawatts (GW) on the grid - and even in the peak of winter, when you would expect energy usage to sky-rocket, the UK barely uses more than 60GW. However, with the country's ambitious plans to become a greener nation - with old, fossil fuel-fired power stations gradually phased out to comply with emissions regulations - the UK will need to find alternative methods of generating energy. Electricity demand in the UK is predicted to double by 2050, and the country aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% (from 1990 levels) by this time. The EU requires that 15% of the UK's overall energy consumption should come from renewable sources by 2020 - 5 times the 3% required back in 2009. To achieve this target, the government has stated it will aim for 30% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2010 - triple the 10% currently recorded. Reaching these targets, the Telegraph states, equates to plans for as much as 16GW of new nuclear power by 2025 and as much as 18GW of offshore wind by 2020 (with current levels lying below 2GW now). What if nuclear and wind energy don't provide what we require - will the lights 'go out'? Richard Smith, head of National Grid's Future Transmission Networks team, plotting scenarios, commented: "We would never say never, but it's very difficult to envisage a scenario where we would not see power stations come to market to help with a margin situation. "If you're looking to address a security of supply issue, gas will be the cheapest, simplest and quickest thing you can do."