Britain’s failure to build new power stations in recent years means it is now importing more energy than ever from Europe, which means it is struggling to keep up with demand.
Britain’s energy mix is becoming increasingly reliant on imported energy from Europe, with plans to quadruple its energy imports to provide a fifth of its electricity supply from Europe by 2025 – putting billions of pounds worth of investment at risk, as well as the country’s power supply.
Energy imports into Britain through interconnectors increased by 52% in the three years running up to 2016 and will continue to grow with new interconnectors planned.
In 2012, projections suggested imports would contribute just 6 terawatt hours (TWh) of supply in 2030, however these figures have dramatically increased to an estimated peak of 77 TWh in 2025, with 21TWh imported today.
During David Cameron’s coalition government, it was predicted that 26GW of gas generation would need to be generated to support the grid on cloudy windless days to replace that generated by coal, oil and nuclear. Today, the UK is on track to generate just 12 GW by 2030, which explains the urgency to import power from the continent.
However, this leaves Britain’s power grid dependent on Europe and susceptible to surges in prices, as experience in December following a gas explosion at a Baumgarten in Austria, resulting in significant disruption to the gas supply across Europe.
Furthermore, imported energy does not have to pay the high carbon price floor tax that its UK competitors do, meaning coal power from Germany and the Netherlands can undercut those in Britain. As a result, the UK is often offshoring its carbon emissions to the continent rather than cutting them, thus nullifying its decision to close its coal fleet.