Britain must prepare for low energy supplies this winter as two nuclear plants shut down and workers return to the office, the business behind the power network has warned.
Low wind speeds and surging demand in Europe may also squeeze the amount of electricity available as the months get colder, according to National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO).
The Hunterston B and Dungeness B nuclear stations are both due to shut within months, taking away a stable energy source at a time when unpredictable wind and solar generation is an increasingly part of the country’s power mix.
There is also uncertainty over how much energy will come from remaining coal-fired power stations as they start to shut down.
National Grid ESO said: “While we remain confident there is sufficient supply to meet peak demand, we should prepare for some tight periods during the winter. We have a well-functioning market that responds to market signals and the ESO may need to use its tools to manage these periods.”ADVERTISING
The power system is getting less predictable as it moves from relying on large, fossil-fuelled plants to more wind and solar power stations, as well as cables linking to the continent which can be used to import and export power.
Meanwhile, French company EDF announced last month that it would immediately shit down the Dungeness nuclear plant in Kent following a string of technical problems. It is also closing the Hunterston site in Scotland because of cracking in its graphite reactor core.
National Grid ESO has to constantly balance supply and demand. If a short-term crunch is looming, it alerts the market – effectively telling generators they will get a good price if they ramp up supply.
The ESO issued three such notices last year, the first since 2016. The wholesale price briefly hit £1,000 per megawatt hour in response to one notice in January.