Skip to content

Green Britain: UK Announces Emergency Measures To Prevent Winter Blackouts

Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph

Emergency measures to prevent blackouts this winter have been unveiled by National Grid after Britain’s spare power capacity fell to just 4 per cent.

A series of power plant breakdowns and closures have left the safety buffer between maximum supply and peak demand in a typical cold spell at the tightest level for seven years, National Grid said.

It is now finalising deals with three energy companies to pay them to each keep a power station in reserve – guaranteeing the plants are available to fire up if needed.

National Grid said the measures, alongside existing emergency demand-reduction plans to pay businesses to cut their usage at peak times, would together cost households less than £1 and should bolster spare capacity back to 6 per cent.

The margin going into last winter was 5 per cent and this winter had been expected to be between 5 per cent and 10 per cent before the unplanned outages, which included several fires, and nuclear safety problems.

Cordi O’Hara, director of market operation at National Grid, said: “The electricity margin has decreased compared to recent years, but the outlook remains manageable and well within the reliability standard set by Government.”

National Grid’s emergency supply plans were designed to secure power plants that could “offer additional capacity over and above that available in the electricity or balancing markets” – for example “plant that would otherwise be closed or mothballed”.

But one of the power stations that is in line to secure payments through the scheme – ScottishPower’s Rye House gas plant – was expected to have been available in the market anyway, sources confirmed – raising questions over why it has secured the extra cash.