Britain’s lights to stay on thanks to 1.6GW of solar a year

A new white paper published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance has predicted that Government’s renewable energy policies for Britain will ensure that the country will not suffer an electricity crisis.
 
Over the coming years, 19GW of nuclear and fossil-fuel capacity will come offline in the UK. Sceptics have maintained that the decommissioning of such a large proportion of the island’s capacity would leave a huge shortfall in the national grid that could lead to rolling blackouts sweeping the nation, plunging millions of homes in the dark.

However, the research company has predicted that by the end of 2016, the UK will build more than 30GW of power-generation capacity; 10GW of which will be fired by natural gas with the remaining 20GW provided by solar, wind and biomass.

“The U.K. is embarking on an historic shift in its electricity supply, and commentators and critics have continually raised the spectre of the lights going out once again,” said Michael Liebreich, Chief Executive Officer of New Energy Finance. “Our analysis shows that, barring unforeseen circumstances, it is not going to happen.”

It is estimated that the cost of replacing Britain’s ageing power plants and upgrading the nation’s electricity grid could cost UK utilities as much as £200 billion. According to Ofgem, a third of Britain’s fossil-fuel plants will close in the next three years to meet ambitious EU targets for carbon emissions by 2015.

The report estimates that solar PV will play an important role in the short and long-term future of new British generation capacity.

Bloomberg predict that an average of 1.6GW of solar PV will be added each year up to 2016, in spite of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s newly-announced FiT cuts and cost-control mechanism.
The report forecasts that a continued decline in module prices, improvements in installation efficiency and more sophisticated financing packages will help drive wider adoption of solar PV.

Despite acknowledging Greg Barker’s claim that the UK will achieve 22GW of solar capacity by 2020, the report predicts that the UK will fall short of the Minister for Energy and Climate Change’s ambition by 5GW. The UK will reach Germany’s current level of solar capacity in 2030 after installing 25GW.

The paper concludes that the national power grid will continue to meet the nation’s needs past 2020, thanks in large part to renewable capacity.