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UK Government planning new dash for gas

04 December 2012

According to media reports on December 4, Britain could have 30 new gas-fired power stations running by 2030 under a dramatic expansion of generation plans to be unveiled this week. The Department of Energy and Climate Change gas strategy is expected to say 26 gigawatts (GW) of new gas capacity is needed - up to 30 plants - an increase from current plans for up to 20GW

Chancellor George Osborne wants to prepare the ground for widespread shale gas exploitation in the UK
Chancellor George Osborne wants to prepare the ground for widespread shale gas exploitation in the UK

Some of the new capacity will be created by modernising existing plants.

In a coup for Chancellor George Osborne, it will also show a scenario in which 37GW of gas plants could be built, making gas account for nearly half of the UK energy mix by 2030. That would require amending carbon emissions plans enshrined in law last year.

The Chancellor has indicated he does not want to see Britain move faster than the rest of Europe in cutting emissions, while the 37GW scenario would be closer to European plans.

According to the Guardian the strategy document will say: "The government expects that gas will continue to play a major role in our electricity mix over the coming decades, alongside low-carbon technologies as we decarbonise our electricity system."

Gas expansion will be opposed by environmentalists, who already questioned how 20GW of new gas would square with Britain’s legally-binding long-term goal of an 80pc reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels.

It will also raise questions about Britain’s dependence on potentially expensive imported gas at a time when rising gas costs have been blamed for soaring household energy bills.

But the plans will cheer those who believe a shale gas boom could keep prices down in Europe and make a cheaper alternative to renewables and nuclear.

According to the Telegraph, Osborne will this week confirm he is consulting on tax breaks for shale gas in the UK and will establish an Office for Shale Gas.

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