There are very real signs that future electricity generation – along with C02 emission and energy efficiency targets - in the UK could be trouble and the country’s government only has itself to blame.
First comes fresh news that the UK nuclear industry has a shortfall of inspectors. It currently needs 30 additional nuclear inspectors just to cope with the country’s existing nuclear programme. Another 20 are required to make the initial assessments of plans for future power stations.
With a generation of UK nuclear experts now retiring and countries all over the world now needing experts for their own nuclear ‘renaissances’, skills are now in short supply. The UK government have left it far too late and are now putting the country’s already shaky reputation for nuclear safety at greater risk. They will now have to offer huge salaries and other inducements to attract experts.
To make matters worse, it now seems that the UK government may have also left it much too late to meet its renewable energy targets. With the exciting news that Germany is about to launch the world’s largest wind turbine (the massive seven megawatt Enercon E-126) and America planning even bigger ones, the UK finds itself worryingly far, far behind.
The simple fact is that the UK government has made it difficult for the wind power industry to operate. Delays in planning permission and failures to facilitate the connection of wind turbines to the national grid have meant the uptake of wind power has been slow. Other, more forward thinking countries, racing ahead with their own wind power programmes now means the turbine production industry has more than enough work for the next five years.
The UK is simply too late and will fail to meet its emission and efficiency targets without significant government intervention and funding. In a time of economic meltdown, where is that money to come from? Optimistic plans and a misplaced faith in nuclear power just aren’t going to be enough.
This week, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown will tell the British Wind Energy Association conference that the UK is a world leader in wind power. He’s going to have to go to great lengths to prove that. Taking the massive sums of money required for a new generation of nuclear power stations and pouring them into the struggling UK wind industry would be a start.