UK faces winter power rationing as risk of blackouts rises
Industrial users of electricity would be first to face usage restrictions
The risk of electricity shortages this winter is at its highest level for nearly 10 years, National Grid warned today, with the situation likely to get worse before it gets better.
The company said that in a cold winter, the UK's electricity “margin”, or safety buffer, would be just five per cent - almost half last year’s level and the lowest since early in 2007.
But the company insisted it was wrong to say Britain faced blackouts and was confident extra energy would flow from the Continent if the country risked a supply shortage.
In the event of potential shortfalls industrial users of electricity would be the first face usage restrictions.
Chris Train, director of market operations for the grid, told an industry conference that “things will be tighter than they have been historically.”
But he would not comment on the likelihood manufacturers may be forced to cut back on their electricity or gas use at times of peak demand.
In its 2013/14 winter outlook report, National Grid said its central forecast was for an electricity margin of five per cent during peak demand in cold weather, broadly in line with previous analysis. A spare eight per cent capacity was forecast for average temperatures.
Margins have been falling over the past few years, due to new laws on power station emissions and economic pressure to mothball old gas-fired power stations.
This has only partially been offset by a fall in peak demands amid energy saving measures and declining heavy industry, together with increasing wind generation and some new gas-fired power stations.
Mr Train said the latest report took into account a range of data based on experience, historical information and feedback from the market.
He said: “While there have been power station closures since last winter, the information suggests that the market can meet demand in cold weather.
“But as the system operator, we're never complacent and it's up to us to be ready to balance the system in real time. We believe we are ready and have the tools we need to play our part.“
Concern about energy supply has been fuelled by reports that gas stores were driven “dangerously low” during the prolonged cold spell in March. However the new National Grid report said gas storage has increased since last year.
There is also ongoing public concern about high prices and profits made by the big energy firms amid a continuing squeeze on household incomes, resulting in a Labour pledge to freeze tariffs should the party win power.
But suppliers have warned that such price caps would have a damaging effect on the investment needed to maintain energy supply.
- 2 Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
- 4 Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
- 5 Kate Moss on the naked Calvin Klein shoot and the obsession that ended her relationship
Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
Archaeologists discover 2,400-year-old gold bongs in Russia
Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after British tourists complain of 'awkward' holidays
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...
£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...