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Blackout alert from National Grid as Britain sails close to wind

The Times

The timing could hardly have been worse. Barely a week after Boris Johnson had backed a huge expansion of offshore wind farms to power every home in Britain, National Grid was forced to issue a rare warning.

“Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced,” it said last month, warning of “tight margins” on Britain’s power gridin the days to come.

The alert was catnip to opponents of “windmills” — and there was more to follow. Last week, National Grid issued two electricity margin notices, the most serious security-of-supply alerts since 2016, both citing low wind farm output among the causes and urgently appealing for more power plants. To keep the lights on, Britain burnt coal in polluting old power stations that are due to close within a few years.

“The time has come to pause the blind rush into a renewable energy disaster,” claimed the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate-sceptic group that alleged “the risk of lights going out all over Britain is rising relentlessly”.

Even respected voices who support renewables expressed concern. Jonathan Marshall, of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the warnings showed that “the rapid transition in Britain’s electricity system is outpacing the changes in governance and regulation needed” to encourage technologies such as batteries, which could save surplus power generated when it’s windy for use when it’s not.

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