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Green Madness: Factories Face Switch-Off To Keep Household Lights On, National Grid Warns

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Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph

Rising risk of blackouts means factories may need to be paid to switch off on weekday evenings to keep household lights on

Diamond particles discovered in candlelight

The risk of blackouts is forecast to be higher this winter than last year. Photo: ALAMY
Factories may have to shut down on weekday evenings this winter to keep household lights on as Britain faces the worst power crunch in a decade, National Grid has warned.

There is an “increased likelihood” that there will be “insufficient supply available in the market to meet demand”, forcing the UK to rely on “last resort” measures such as paying factories to power down, National Grid warned.

The risk of blackouts will be the highest since 2007/08, even once emergency plans to reduce energy demand from businesses and fire up old mothballed plant have been deployed, analysis released on Thursday shows.

Britain’s spare capacity margin – the effective ‘safety buffer’ between peak electricity demand and available power supplies – will be just 5.1 per cent once the emergency measures are used.

Without such intervention to artificially bolster supplies, the margin would have fallen to just 1.2 per cent, the lowest in a decade National Grid confirmed.

In a report, the company said there was an “increased likelihood” that it would have to pay large businesses to switch off between 4pm and 8pm during the week.

Busineses with 130 megawatts of capacity have signed up to take part in the scheme, which is voluntary. They will be paid for taking part, even if they are not actually called upon – as happened last winter.

A further 2.29 gigawatts of power plant capacity that would not otherwise be available will be paid to remain on standby to fire up if needed.

Such action would only be taken “as a last resort in the event that there is insufficient supply available in the market to meet demand”, it said.

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