Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and advisor to the Labour party on infrastructure in the UK, has controversially stated that energy shortages could help the UK review and improve its energy generation sector.
Speaking on the challenges facing the UK’s energy generation industry, Armitt blamed a lack of foresight from ministers for an impeding power crisis. He singled out a lack of construction of new power plants and the decommissioning of nuclear and coal plants as the main reason for possible energy shortages.
His comments were criticised by a number of business leaders and downplayed by the government.
‘We are very close to being in a crisis when it comes to energy’
In an interview with construction magazine Building, Armitt said: “In harsh political terms [power shortages] would be the best possible thing that could happen because this country is extremely good in a crisis.
“We are very close to being in a crisis when it comes to energy […] the Central Electricity Generating Board used to say that a resilient network operated on a 25% capacity surplus. We’re down to 4% because we’ve gone slower than we should have done on nuclear.”
DECC dismisses risk of blackouts
The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) was quick to issue a response to Armitt and said: “Our priority is to keep the lights on both in the short and long term, that is why we have legislated through the Energy Act 2013 to bring on the investment in new energy infrastructure that we need to replace power stations that are closing down.
“To increase security in the short-term, Ofgem and National Grid are consulting on the extension of measures that already exist to balance supply and demand. As a longer-term solution, we are introducing a Capacity Market in 2014 which will ensure new capacity is online by the winter of 2018-19.”