UK could face blackouts by 2016

A massive building programme which would “industrialise” large swathes of the countryside will be needed if Britain is to meet its own energy needs from renewable sources, a Government adviser has warned.

Professor David MacKay, of Cambridge University, said there could be blackouts by 2016 unless new sources of energy are developed to replace ageing power stations, which are due to be decommissioned over the coming years.

He said public opposition to developments such as nuclear power plants, windfarms and tidal barrages was partly to blame for the prospect of electricity shortages.

Left to itself, the market would probably fill the energy gap by building new gas-powered stations, which would put the Government’s climate change targets at risk, warned Prof MacKay.

Cutting Britain’s carbon footprint as ministers want will require legislation to enable construction of renewable energy facilities on a large scale, he said.

The only alternatives were significant lifestyle changes to reduce energy consumption or buying in electricity generated abroad from renewable sources, such as solar panels in the desert.

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