Wholesale energy prices soar following National Grid fire

Prices of electricity on the day-ahead market peaked at £2,500.01 per MWh for delivery between 7pm and 8pm on the N2EX exchange.

Alexander Britton
Thursday 16 September 2021 17:45
A fire has knocked out a power cable, sending prices up (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A fire has knocked out a power cable, sending prices up (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A fire has caused a power link between the UK and France to be shut off, leading to a jump in wholesale electricity prices.

The National Grid said its site at Sellindge in Kent was evacuated on Wednesday morning following the fire.

The blaze and planned maintenance means the IFA interconnector will be offline until September 25, and only half of its two gigawatt capacity available until March 2022.

Prices of electricity on the day-ahead market peaked at £2,500.01 per MWh for delivery between 7pm and 8pm on the N2EX exchange, with an average daily price of £424.61.

This compares with an average in August of £106.83, and an average across 2020 of £35.26.

The fire at the Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) site broke out in the early hours of Wednesday.

A National Grid spokesman said it expects to “continue supplying electricity safely and securely” despite the incident.

It added: “Our investigation is ongoing and we will update the market with any changes as necessary.”

The link can carry up to 2GW of power, and had been importing electricity from France in recent days, after UK prices hit a record high of £540 per MWh on the wholesale energy market.

Rising energy prices has been a key concern for economists in contributing to inflation hitting a nine-year high in August.

Downing Street said it “absolutely” recognised that rising bills meant it was a “challenging time” for consumers and businesses.

Asked what support the Government was providing, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We already have processes in place to support the public – the energy price cap is continuing to save 15 million households up to £100 per year.

“We plan to trial automatic switching for those who are on expensive tariffs and are extending the warm home discount so a total of 2.7 million pensioners and low-income households get £150 knocked off their bill each year.”

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