Chris Huhne looks to reign in gas plant surge

The increasing number of gas fuelled power plants popping up could result in Britain breaking its CO2 commitments.

The UK’s recent surge in the construction of gas power plants is to be halted by the government as they believe if it continues to go unregulated the growth of the stations could end up breaking Britain’s legally binding targets for CO2.

The number of gas-fuelled plants in the UK has seen a steep increase because they are comparatively quick and cheap to build. They also only generate around 50% of the carbon emissions expected from a coal powered plant.

Recently gas power has been touted as the transition fuel, paving the way for carbon neutral electricity. The director of public affairs for Centrica (they own British Gas) backed up this idea saying “Gas is a critical part of the fuel mix, it is a transition fuel. At this moment in time it is as crucial to the UK, as nuclear and renewables.”

Yet green energy campaigners are showing concern that too many gas plants are being built making it nearly impossible for the UK to adhere to its carbon budgets or worse still once it’s the transition period is over the plants will become stranded assets due to the technology being obsolete in a carbon neutral environment.

In 2010, there was approximately 27 Giga-watts of gas based power capacity in the UK, with 4GW worth of new plants under construction, and a further 8GW having been granted planning permission. At present the installed capacity of all types of electricity generation is 75GW. Yet predictions by the national grid have shown that by 2018 there will be around 45GW of gas based power in the network.

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