20/02/2006

London Olympics could face blackouts, poll suggests

The 2012 London Olympics could be hit by electricity blackouts, a poll of energy experts has suggested.

The poll, conducted by energy company Mitsui Babcock, found that over three-quarters of leading energy experts in the UK cited blackouts during the Olympics as a "genuine threat".

The poll also found that there were "serious concerns" over whether the government would meet its Kyoto emission targets in 2012.

The survey questioned 140 energy experts, including senior corporate executives, energy analysts, MPs, environmentalists, NGOs and academics in the UK.

Security of supply was singled out as the biggest issue facing the UK in 2006, with 39% of respondents citing it. It was followed by price volatility (36%) and emissions (16%).

Three-quarters of respondents also said that they did not believe that the UK would meet its 2012 Kyoto target. Nearly a third suggested that a balanced portfolio was the best way to reach the 2012 emissions target, while 23% suggested that clean coal was the solution.

The majority of respondents - 88% - felt that the government was responsible for reducing emissions, while 86% thought that the government should meet at least half or all of the costs of solving the energy gap crisis.

The poll found that experts suggested a "balanced and diverse" portfolio of power generation sources could achieve the best long-term benefits, including nuclear, coal, gas and renewables as a possible solution to security of supply and the energy gap.

Iain Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Mitsui Babcock, said: "There is a growing gap in our energy needs. According to economists, finding an urgent solution will require billions of pounds of investment. This is a challenge. However, UK industry has the expertise and capability, which if supported by the government, would have immediate environmental benefits and help to secure future energy supplies. We will see energy blackouts unless we act immediately."

Charles Shields, Chief Executive of the Industrial and Power Association, said: "There is a growing hunger for energy internationally but the government and power market is not focused on its economic potential.

"We must create a sustainable technology-based industry at home that can harness the immense export opportunities. We have the talent and the experience to succeed in the global market for clean energy. But, it will take a strong and effective partnership between government and industry to make that happen."

(KMcA)

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