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UK could cut power investment by 35 bln stg-study
UPDATE : 2009/8/4 14:16:38  CLICK : 1718

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - Britain's power industry could save 35 billion pounds ($57.50 billion) in investments needed to secure future energy supply if consumers adopt aggressive efficiency measures in coming years, a study said on Tuesday.

The current economic downturn -- which has sapped power and gas demand -- offers a unique opportunity to sustain lower levels of energy consumption when growth returns, the Ernst&Young report said.

If this happens, the industry could scale back the amount of investment needed to upgrade the country's energy infrastructure to ensure future supply, it added.

"Lower levels of demand now offer an opportunity to embed change that could not have been anticipated 12 months ago," Tony Ward of the consultant's power and utilities team, who worked on the report, said in a statement.

"But we need to seize this opportunity and act now."

The report was commissioned by Centrica (CNA.L), one of Britain's biggest electricity suppliers.

The latest estimates suggest that demand for electricity and gas has dipped by about 5 percent and 6 percent, year-on-year between 2008 and 2009, the report noted.

But if the government could cut 2008 gas demand by 7 percent by 2020 and hold electricity demand at 2008 levels to 2020, this could reduce the overall energy infrastructure requirement to 199 billion pounds by 2025 from its previous estimate of 234 billion, the report said.

"Crucial decisions that will set the investment framework for projects that will ultimately deliver Britain's energy objectives have to be made well before 2015," Ward said.

In February, Ernst&Young said Britain's power industry needed to invest at least 234 billion pounds by 2025 to secure supply and meet its targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy.

The updated report issued on Tuesday said Britain needed to grab any chance to speed the deployment of all low carbon technologies, from renewables to nuclear.

Britain is already home to the world's biggest offshore wind farms with around 3 gigawatts, but it is planning to raise offshore wind capacity to 33 gigawatts.

The country also has to renew almost all of its ageing nuclear power plants, which currently account for about 20 percent of its electricity supply.

To do this, Ernst & Young urged policy makers to set out a framework over the next two years to detail how the country -- and the power industry -- can make the investments needed for Britain to meet its 2020 targets to cut fossil fuel emissions.

"The level of industry-wide investment required equates to roughly 13 billion pounds a year from today, and the years to 2015 will be absolutely critical in determining whether Britain will get close to meeting its 2020 commitments, and be on track towards the even tougher targets thereafter," Ward said.

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; editing by Keiron Henderson)

 
 
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