[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Keeping Britain's lights on
London by night
Send us your views on the energy gap via the email form at the bottom of the page
Britain's stocks of North Sea oil and gas are running out, most of our coal mines have closed and our nuclear power stations are getting old.

So, exactly what is going to keep the lights on - and our industry working - over the next two decades?

Last week on Breakfast, we looked at the thorny issue of Britain's looming energy gap.

Declan Curry called in the experts to look at the options facing us over the next 20 years: can renewables such as wind farms really fill the gap - or will the government have to take another look at nuclear power?

We've looked at wind, natural gas and microgeneration - here's the highlights from our week long series:

Day by day:

  • Monday 24 October: : when the lights go out

    "...choices need to be made."

    Declan was in Electric Avenue, Southend.

    He spoke to Professor Jim Skea, from the UK Energy Research Centre. He said if we're to plan for alternative fuel we need to estimate five to ten years of planning. He thought we could survive without resorting to nuclear power.

  • Tuesday 25 October: wind and wuthering

    Can renewable energy - wind and wave power - really fill the gap? We're in Horsey, Norfolk and in Great Yarmouth, where 30 massive turbines make their contribution to the national grid.

    We heard from Dr Keith Tovey from the University of East Anglia, and from John Constable who is from the Renewable Energy Foundation.

    Dr Keith Tovey said in "short term management wind power is more reliable than conventional energy."

    And Declan spent the day in Great Yarmouth which has one inexhaustible supply of energy: wind...

  • Wednesday 26 October: going nuclear

    Britain has built no new nuclear power plants for nearly 20 years - but are we about to experience a dramatic change of heart? We'll debate the pros and cons, live from Sizewell B in Suffolk - the country's most modern nuclear power station.

    Sizewell B is the UK's most modern nuclear power station

    Nuclear power stations currently generate around 24% of all our electricity.

    But by 2023 it's planned that all but one of the UK's nuclear power stations will have closed down. We already import gas from abroad - but will this have to increase in the future?

    Should we actually be building more nuclear power stations?

    Or can renewable energy sources plug the gap?

    We'll debate the issues on this morning's programme.

    For Breakfast, Dominic Hughes reported from Finland, where they're constructing a new nuclear power station. They believe that nuclear is the best way to generate more electricity and combat global warming.

    Thursday 27 October: natural gas

    Since the 1970s Britain has relied more heavily on natural gas, and gas to produce electricity from supplies in the North Sea.

    Declan looks at gas as a way of generating electricity
    Britain's gas resources have already peaked

    Today, Declan was in Connah's Quay in Flintshire at a gas fired power station.

    But supplies of gas from UK sources peaked in 2000, and that has meant importing more gas, and building pipelines to connect with European and Scandinavian countries.

    Currently, 40% of Britain's electricity is generated from gas - but that's expected to rise to 60 or maybe 70%, and that in turn means buying in more gas.

    Gas was originally seen as an alternative means of energy and advertising campaigns encouraged its use in the 1970s.

    But by 2006, Britain won't be able to produce enough of its own and will import it from Norway, some Russian countries and even the middle east.

    Friday 28 October: microgeneration

    In the concluding part of our series on energey, Declan was in Falkirk looking at microgeneration.

    He was at a school which was using alternative ways of generating power, and even selling the surplus back to the Scottish electricity authority.

    Declan in Falkirk
    When your VCR is on stand by, it's still using 85% of it power

    Deanburn primary school generates half of its own electricity from a wind turbine and also uses hi technolgy devices to trap and store heat.

    There's also a system for moving surplus energy around the building to generate heat.

    But Declan also looked at how unplugging mobile phone chargers, switching televisions and VCRs off - rather than leaving them on stand-by, can also make a big difference.

    A VCR can still be using 85% of its power even on stand by. Watch our report and Declan's live broadcasts via the link below.

    And we want your views

    Your E-mail address
    Where you live

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

    Breakfast's Declan Curry talked to Prof. Jim Skea

    The nuclear power building programme in Finland

    BBC Breakfast


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific