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PricewaterhouseCoopers Survey Reports Blackouts Expected to be More Frequent

Blackouts are expected to become more frequent worldwide as power plants age and investment dries up, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 119 investors and executives at utilities in 36 countries.

Of those surveyed, two-thirds believe the "likelihood" of blackouts will increase or remain the same. About 25% believe there will be fewer blackouts. Security of supply is a "major concern" for 72% of those surveyed, up from 65% a year ago. More than 50% expect to see an increase in nuclear power stations.

"The challenge for the utilities sector is immense," said PwC's global utilities director Manfred Wiegand. "We urge governments, utility companies, investors and consumers to work together to find a truly sustainable and long term strategy for this industry."

The report said that nearly $12.7 trillion is needed worldwide through 2030 for building new power infrastructure and to fix aging systems. A report by the International Energy Agency has estimated that $10 trillion would be needed over the same time period.

Because it is the largest energy consumer, North America will need $3.4 trillion of investment in power and natural gas assets through 2030, more than any other region, according to the report. Second is China, which will need $2.4 trillion. Europe overall will need about $1.9 trillion of the total worldwide investment through 2030.

Although popular with the public, the survey found that the growing investments in renewable sources are not expected to deliver enough power to replace thermal or nuclear stations. Those surveyed said that they expect the share of renewables "to remain virtually the same in the next 10 years."

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