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Warnings about keeping the lights on turn urgent

The head of Ofgem has warned energy supplies are on a 'rollercoaster' heading 'downhill fast'. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

So what is behind the new urgency in the warnings about keeping the lights on?

The boss of Ofgem, the energy regulator, has just been telling me it is because coal power stations like Kingsnorth in Kent are closing earlier than planned.

Curiously the reason they are doing so is not because they haven't been making money, but because they have been making too much.

Power stations are only licensed to run for a certain number of hours, and the market for coal power has been so good that they have burned through their allotted life span faster than expected.

At the other end of the market, Ofgem says the Government will have to look at subsidising new nuclear, renewables and gas one way or another to make it financially viable to build.

Although demand is certainly there, the upfront costs of new infrastructure are so enormous that it is unlikely the power stations we desperately need can be built without it.

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