08 January 2010 17:20 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
The sub-zero temperatures have also, however, raised concerns about a much wider issue: the country’s push to renewables and its base load electricity generating capacity.
Spikes in demand during the cold snap have put strain on the supply of gas to major industrial users although the chemical industry has largely been unaffected by supply interruptions.
The perennial problem is of storage capacity: the
More storage capacity is being added, although far from enough, and certainly not fast enough, say some. The
Prices in the liberalised
But for some, current nationwide concerns about gas supplies draw focus away from a mounting, critical problem for the
High pressure sitting over northwest Europe has driven the Jet Stream south and with it milder air from the
On Friday, the
But British politicians want to see a much stronger push towards renewables in the energy supply mix.
The contribution of wind power to electricity production in
But delivering a reliable and flexible base load of power looks as though it will be more of a challenge than many have recognised.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, in the current freezing weather, coal-fired generating capacity has stepped in to balance output, supplying something like 45% of power needs. Yet coal generating capacity will be cut back by close to 50% under plans to rebalance supply and reduce carbon emissions.
Nuclear is an option and will be needed to match electricity demand but the challenges to make progress with a new generation of cleaner coal and nuclear power plants are immense.
The problems highlight the need for decisions to be made sooner rather than later on a balanced and reliable energy complex that can deliver power under challenging conditions of supply and demand.
Chemicals producers are great users of energy most of which is used to control process conditions. They need competitively priced energy options and steady supplies if they are to maintain or improve process efficiencies.
Alternative sources of energy will be needed if the country is to reach its carbon dioxide emission control targets. But the contribution of hydrocarbons to the energy mix has to be fully appreciated.
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