Energy chiefs clash on UK electricity blackouts from 2015
THE bosses of two energy companies have clashed on whether the UK is heading for electricity blackouts.
The boss of Notts-based Alkane Energy, Neil O'Brien, fears we are.
But Tony Cocker, chief executive of Eon UK, disagrees.
Mr O'Brien subscribes to the view that the country is lurching towards an energy gap caused by the closure of power stations and a shortage of new ones.
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"Everyone knows there is a risk of power cuts," Mr O'Brien told the Post.
The energy bill currently before Parliament will lay the foundations for new power stations.
The first bidding round for investment next year is unlikely to see new power stations before 2018 – too late to avoid blackouts. said Mr O'Brien
He added: "Power cuts could start in 2015 Power stations such as Kingsnorth, Didcot and others are shifting this quarter.
"The nuclear programme is in a mess."
But Mr Cocker, who took over as chief executive of E.on 14 months ago, dismissed any suggestion of blackouts and said companies would be able to buy electricity from Europe.
He agreed that a lot of plant was being decommissioned or closed for environmental reasons, such as old coal power stations. Old nuclear power stations are also due to close.
He said: "A lot of that capacity has to be replaced. That is what the energy market reform framework is basically designed to do.
"It is designed to get in new geo-carbon plant such as nuclear, on and off shore wind and biomass. On the other hand, it is designed to bring in new gas plants through the capacity payments."
Mr Cocker rejected the prospect of blackouts, pointing to the huge energy efficiency programmes currently under way in homes, offices and commercial premises .
"That is starting to get some momentum," he said.
Much work was going into working with businesses such as offices and commercial premises which could turn down energy use during times of high energy prices.
"We are investing in power stations such as Grain in Kent, London Array Thames estuary offshore wind farm and we are investing heavily in energy efficiency insulating about 160,000 homes last year," said Mr Cocker.
"We are also building district heating schemes.
"Where there is a new development, we are building an energy centre to provide electricity and heat providing residents with an opportunity to hook up."
Mr Cocker said new smart meters would provide consumers with a way of monitoring their consumption.
Heavy investment is also going into connections with Europe to import energy and electricity.