Gas power stations “to cover electricity supply gap after Hinckley Point delays”

3rd July 2017 | Commercial Energy

Ageing gas-burning power stations may need to fill an electricity supply gap after newly-announced delays at Hinkley Point nuclear power station, an expert has said. One reactor at the previously-delayed Hinkley Point C risks running 15 months behind schedule and another may be nine months late, EDF said today. The French energy company also announced the Chinese-backed project, the UK’s first new nuclear power station for more than 20 years, is estimated to be £2.2 billion over budge, up from 18.1 billion.

Any delay to the project’s planned 2025 completion date could cause an electricity supply gap, said Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at IMechE. The UK is facing “significant challenges” in energy supply, she said.

Hinkley Point

“With new technologies coming online, UK population growth and likely increases in the use of electricity in transport and heating to help meet carbon reduction targets, it looks almost certain that the electricity demand profile be ever more challenging over the next 10 years,” said Dr Baxter. Extra energy demand may have to be filled by fossil fuel-burning plants, she said.

“Today’s news that the Hinkley Point C project will cost more and maybe take longer means that it’s possible that some existing power stations will require further life extensions. It is not an option to ‘turn the lights off’, and that means that any gaps will need to be covered by gas and other technologies to secure supply and meet changing demands.”

Many were quick to criticise the delays and budget increase at the Somerset power station, which was confirmed in September 2-16 by prime minister Theresa May. Greenpeace called the news a “damning indictment” of the government’s agreement to go ahead with the project, and claimed today’s teenagers will still be paying for Hinkley when they approach pension age.

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