British MPs have warned in a new report that the country could face blackouts next Christmas if the government's plans to close coal plants and expand renewables continue into next year.
The report, named Electric Shock: Will The Christmas Lights Go Out Next Winter? was published by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) — a cross-party group of MPs interested in the growth of UK infrastructure.
Grant Shapps, who chairs BIG, said that the report brings to light the "dangerously small electricity capacity margins" that the report claims is due to government targets to close coal plants and hit climate-change goals.
"While nobody questions the noble intentions behind these interventions, it is clear that a perfect coincidence of numerous policies designed to reduce Britain's carbon dioxide emissions has had the unintended effect of hollowing out the reliability of the electricity generating sector," Shapps said, according to the Guardian.
The report claims that the National Grid has had to pursue emergency measures to stop blackouts occurring, which could in future include restarting old coal plants.
It also says that the National Grid paid £33.9m on emergency measures last winter, with the figure for winter 2016-17 expected to hit £122.4m.
The report claims that this will be picked up by consumers in the form of higher energy bills. "A radical rehabilitation of electricity markets is required to bring both consumer prices and capacity concerns under control in the short term," said Shapps.
The then-Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said in a speech in November 2015 that the UK plans to close all coal-powered plants by 2025 — a move echoed recently by France and Canada, who plan to close all coal fire plants by 2023 and 2030 respectively.
In that same speech, Rudd said the the UK would move towards more "secure and cost-effective" energy and that the focus would be on natural gas, with the UK continuing to support off-shore wind farms "if and only if" costs come down.