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Britain ‘Faces Blackouts’ Risk Due To Renewable Instability, Engineer Warns

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Tom Bawden, Independent on Sunday

Britain risks widespread electricity blackouts unless it improves the network’s ability to balance intermittent supply from renewable energy sources, a leading engineer has warned.

 Fears the UK’s ageing fleet of gas-powered plants will not be able to cope when wind levels are low

The UK is legally bound to produce nearly a third of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020, requiring a large number of rapidly deployable gas-fired power stations to be on standby to pick up the slack at times when the sun and wind are insufficient.

Hugh Sharman is an engineering consultant who worked on a government-commissioned, but unpublished, report looking at how to keep the lights on in the face of soaring renewable energy use. He warned that Britain’s ageing fleet of gas-powered plants will not be able to cope with the task of rapidly “balancing” the country’s electricity supply when wind levels are low.

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