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The Generation Gap: UK electricity fuel mix in 2020

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Author(s):  Alex Evans
Published date:  01 Jan 2003
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By 2020, the UK is projected to lose a sizeable proportion of its current electricity generating capacity. This report examines four different scenarios for what the UK’s electricity generation sector might look like in 2020.

By 2020, the UK is projected to lose a sizeable proportion of its current electricity generating capacity. Most of Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations are due for retirement by 2020, when only three are scheduled still to be open. To make matters harder, many of the UK’s coal power stations will also be phased out over the same period because of the effects of the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive, which will force coal power stations to install expensive equipment in order to reduce emissions that cause air pollution and acid rain.

In many cases, it will be cheaper for plant owners to close the power stations rather than install the technology.

This raises the question of what – if anything – the Government should do about Britain’s looming electricity ‘generation gap’. In many ways, this is the central issue facing the Government in its forthcoming energy White Paper.

This report seeks to answer the question by examining four different scenarios for what the UK’s electricity generation sector might look like in 2020. The four scenarios – Business as Usual, The Nuclear Option, Clean & Green and Fortress Britain – are designed to illustrate the consequences of decisions that the Government must make in the energy White Paper: decisions about the level of political commitment that is made to energy efficiency and renewables, whether the UK will need to build a new generation of nuclear reactors and where the balance between state and market should lie.