No nukes, more gas? npower predicts expensive future

A dash for gas, far less nuclear power, China as the world’s biggest economy and £330bn needed to invest in UK energy. That could be what faces us in 2030 […]

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By Sumit Bose

A dash for gas, far less nuclear power, China as the world’s biggest economy and £330bn needed to invest in UK energy.

That could be what faces us in 2030 according to academics who have written a new report for npower exploring possible energy scenarios.

The npower future report predicts three scenarios for 2030; one where Europe dominates new clean green technologies, a dash for gas and a crisis of austerity where the UK trails in the wake of BRIC countries. Written by boffins at LSE, the report looks at the future for UK energy and what it means for the business community, concluding that whatever happens, an extra £330bn will need to be invested to keep pace with energy demand which is predicted to increase by two per cent per year for the next few decades.

Professor Sam Frankhauser who wrote the paper said: “This report shows how fragile and delicate the equilibrium of factors is for portecting the future of the UK energy industry. A slight change of emphasis of policy, a weakening economic picture or a preference for cheaper energy sources over low carbon energy generation could result in very different operating environments for UK businesses.”

The three scenarios officially called; Hitting the target, Gas is key and Austerity reigns, outline likely futures. In the first low carbon policies win political backing, targets are met and £330bn is invested in getting to a low carbon future fuelled by a financially recovered Eurozone. It also suggests the EU will turn away from nuclear lead green tech and even export green skills worldwide.

In the gas scenario we gain short term price stability by switching to gas, carbon targets are ditched and less infrastructure is built. Europe is left behind as BRIC countries take the economic lead, China becomes the world’s largest economy and leads the way.

And in the final scenario, Europe is crippled by 20 years of stagnant economic growth, India and China lead the world and investment in energy infrastructure is low in the UK as it turns to carbon sources from abroad.

Overall the futures mean just one thing, UK businesses need to take control now as inevitably energy prices will rise. The report says businesses must put energy efficiency measures in today to cope and move energy from procurement to boardroom level.

Volker Beckers npower’s CEO (pictured) said the report means more cash must be found: “£200bn by 2020 has long been held as the figure needed for a secure energy future. However this report shows that almost the same again is needed just ten years later to provide the right environment to balance cost, carbon and continuity of supply.

“It is therefore crucial that the UK energy industry, government and businesses work collaboratively to ensure this level of investment is secured and foundations are set for economic and environmental prosperity by 2030.”