Engineers criticise minister's 'unrealistic' energy policy

The Government's energy policy is "hopelessly unrealistic" and leaves the UK vulnerable to a shortage crisis, a panel of leading academics will say today.

Ministers rely far too heavily on the success of green energy sources and ignore serious concerns about the lack of reliable gas supplies, it warns.

The Royal Academy of Engineering today launches a broad critique of the energy review published by the Cabinet Office's performance and innovation unit.

The academy will tell Brian Wilson, the Energy minister, it is deeply worried about the security of Britain's gas supplies.

It says the Department of Trade and Industry's own figures indicate that by 2020 the UK might need to import up to 90 per cent of its gas requirements.

"We could experience gas shortages as soon as 2004 or 2005 in a severe winter," the academy said.

It urges the Government to address the planning, funding and operational questions involved in expanding the pan-European gas transmission network, so the UK can access imported gas. The energy review set a target of generating 20 per cent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

It also placed great faith in wind energy and proposed installing 22,000 megawatts of turbine capacity by 2020. Its other attention-grabbing finding was that the nuclear option should be kept open in case we cannot find alternative sources.

However, the report, which was prepared by a high-profile team including Rolls-Royce's engineering director, and six academics including Michael Laughton at University College London, takes issue with the findings.

It says greater reliance on renewable sources is a "laudable" aim, but brands it "over-optimistic" and accuses it of failing to address the problem that renewable energy is intermittent.

"Experience on the Continent has shown that grid stability can be adversely affected when the penetration of intermittent renewables reaches about 15 per cent," the report says.

The academy says that to hit targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Britain must replace nuclear reactors coming to the end of their lives with non-carbon emitting energy sources.

"But it takes so long to build new power stations that we need to commission them in the next few years if they are to be on stream in time to prevent supply shortages," it says.

A DTI spokeswoman said a White Paper would be published "at the turn of the year" and it would not be appropriate now to comment on the report.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her