We’ve recently discussed the confusing UK energy situation and following on from last week’s energy bill and the more recent Autumn statement, the mixed messages being issued by government look set to continue. This uncertainty has caused a dramatic decrease in the investment for UK renewable energy over the past six years by almost £4bn.The Chancellor, George Osborne, has shocked many by announcing new tax breaks for shale gas exploration and plans for building up to 30 new gas-burning power stations. This new announcement appears to be at odds with previous proposals, which have focused on investing in carbon neutral energy projects in order to reach the 15% renewable energy production target by 2020.
The Chancellor’s argument seems to be that gas powered energy is, and will continue to be, one of the most cost effective energy sources available, allowing us to replace ageing coal, nuclear and gas power stations with a new generation of plants that will also increase our energy capacity by around 5GW.
Whatever the merits of his plans, and whatever the final mix of generating technologies, one thing is for certain: plant and asset reliability and uptime will be essential if we are to maximise the efficiency of our future power stations, while continuing to reduce carbon emissions.
Techniques such as condition monitoring, asset efficiency optimisation and predictive maintenance will therefore become increasingly important, with vibration monitoring in particular remaining an essential managment technique.