Former National Grid power director urges re-think of ‘dash for renewables’

scientific-alliance-banner-logoThe Scientific Alliance has published the second paper by Dr Capell Aris and Colin Gibson analysing the National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios study.

These two highly experienced experts conclude that continued expansion of renewable energy would be considerably more expensive than building more gas or nuclear capacity in the medium term.

Colin Gibson, former Power Network Director for National Grid, said:

“Building 10GW of highly flexible open cycle gas turbines to provide a secure supply of electricity would cost £3.6 billion.

“This seems a bargain compared to the projected £11 billion to be spent on programme of ‘smart’ meter installation, particularly as the benefits of this are already being called into question.”

Capell Aris, who has extensive experience in the supply industry, pointed out that many of the assumptions used by National Grid are questionable.

He said: “The figures provided by DECC underestimate the real cost of building more wind farms, while overestimating the cost of building more nuclear power stations. The new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is an unnecessarily expensive way to add capacity –  but even this looks like a bargain compared to wind farms”.

The ‘Gone Green’ scenario presented by National Grid is almost twice as expensive per unit of electricity generated as building the necessary number of either gas- or nuclear-fuelled power stations.

At the same time, the previous report made it clear that the push for renewables would put security of supply in severe jeopardy. The proposed refocussing towards gas and nuclear generation would in fact be considerably less expensive than any of the four scenarios considered in the National Grid study.

Any future energy policy must provide a secure supply at a cost that does not disadvantage the nation’s economic health, while minimising the environmental impact. At present, it seems that all the attention is being put on the environmental aspects, particularly in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Unfortunately, the need for conventional backup of wind and solar farms reduces their impact on emissions while pushing up costs and threatening energy security.
The authors conclude that energy policy needs to be rethought from first principles using the expertise of engineers who understand all three aspects fully.


  1. An Examination of National Grid’sFuture Energy Scenarios Part 1  Security of Supply; Dr Capell Aris and Colin Gibson; Scientific Alliance;http://www.scientific-org/node/1012
  2. An Examination of National Grid’sFuture Energy Scenarios Part 2 – Cost of Supply; Dr Capell Aris and Colin Gibson; Scientific Alliance;http://www.scientific-org/node/1018
  3. Future Energy Scenarios 2016; National Grid;
  4. The Scientific Alliance was formed in 2001 to encourage politicians to make policy on the basis of scientific evidence rather than lobbying by vested interests.
  5. The Scientific Alliance presents unbiased, peer-reviewed scientific and technical knowledge. Its role is to encourage a rigorous and rational approach to policymaking for the benefit of individual citizens and the economy.
  6. Both the Scientific Alliance and SA Scotland are guided by their own Advisory Forum of qualified scientists and engineers.

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