The boss of the energy firm SSE has warned that “there is a very real risk of the lights going out” in Britain.
Ian Marchant said the government was significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the country.
He was commenting on the company’s decision to cut back on power generation at five sites.
The energy regulator, Ofgem, has also warned of an increased risk of a blackout.
In February it predicted power station closures could mean a 10% fall in capacity by April alone.
SSE points out that the regulator did not take into account its plans to cut power generation when the warning was issued and that therefore, makes the warning even more stark.
Ofgem’s chief executive Alistair Buchanan told the BBC that Britain “would be very tight on power station capacity in three to five years’ time”.
SSE’s Mr Marchant added that the government “can reduce this risk significantly by taking swift action to provide much greater clarity on its electricity market reforms and bringing forward capacity payments for existing plants from 2018 to 2014”.
The company is reducing its energy generation by 2,000MW over the next year. The power stations affected are Ferrybridge, Keadby, Slough Uskmouth and Peterhead. It is also postponing further investment in gas-fired electricity generation until at least 2015.