Government report highlights need to secure energy supplies over the next 15 years

The government has said it may increase UK coal production as part of its drive to secure energy supplies.

It said that there might be “scope for additional indigenous coal production” in its Energy Markets Outlook report, published today.

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said renewable energy would play a “far greater role” in meeting energy needs, but did not give precise figures.

The government predicts 20-25 GW of new electricity generation will be required by 2020 to meet increased demand.

Wicks said: “Security of energy supply is one of the fundamental challenges this country faces. We need to ensure that the market delivers enough energy supply in five years time, in 10 years time and in15 years time.”

“Decisions are being taken, the market is delivering investment, but we can’t let our guard down.”

The Energy Markets Outlook report said delays caused by the planning system had had a major impact on the ability to deliver new infrastructure and there was a continued need for skills and resources in the engineering and construction sectors.

The report, which was developed with energy regulator Ofgem, provides energy market information on security of supply, looking ahead over a 15 year period.

Its publication comes as The Guardian reported the government is unlikely to meet its target for 20% of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, citing leaked documents.

It also coincides with the news today that nearly half of the UK nuclear power plants have been out of action due to breakdowns and maintenance.

Out of the 16 reactors which supply 18% of the UK's electricity, seven have been shut down.