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Green Madness: Britain Could Face Blackouts If The Wind Doesn’t Blow

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Emily Gosden, Daily Telegraph

Britain could face blackouts if the wind doesn’t blow in winter 2016-17, unless emergency measures are brought in to bolster electricity supplies, official analysis suggests.

Output from Britain’s power plants would not be enough to meet peak demand if there was “low wind” – meaning the thousands of wind turbines across the country would generate very little electricity, forecasts show.

Old mothballed power plants are now likely to be paid millions of pounds to fire back up or factories paid to switch off at peak times, under proposed emergency measures to ensure the lights stay on.

Normally, the UK’s electricity grid has a spare capacity “margin” – meaning more power is available than is expected to be needed to meet peak demand.

The margin ensures that “consumers are not affected” if demand for electricity increases unexpectedly – such as in a cold snap – or power plants break down, Ofgem says.

But the margin has eroded in recent years as environmental regulations force the closure of old coal-fired power plants.

Emergency measures to keep the lights on were first introduced last winter, when the margin fell to 4.1 per cent, and are also in place for this winter, when the margin is expected to fall to 1.2 per cent.

The measures had not been expected to be needed in winter 2016-17, but officials now believe the situation could worsen significantly as more plants may be closed, meaning the margin could fall to zero.

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