The operator of Britain’s electricity network warned late on Wednesday afternoon that low wind levels had forced it to search for emergency sources of power.
In a statement, the National Grid Electricity Systems Operator (ESO) said:
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 added that it was exploring measures to ensure that there was enough generation available to increase its capacity, and would update the market later on Wednesday evening.
The news comes just a week after Boris Johnson pledged to quadruple British offshore wind capacity to 40GW within the decade, part of a so-called green industrial revolution that the Prime Minister believes could create millions of jobs over the next 10 years.
The UK has the world’s biggest offshore wind market and earlier this year the government dropped an effective ban on onshore wind as part of its drive to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
But critics say that wind power is unreliable compared to other forms of electricity generation such as nuclear, or gas, and can drop at a moment’s notice.
The infrastructure linking Britain’s offshore wind to onshore power stations has also come under scrutiny in recent months. Developed when the sector was still in its infancy, faulty transmission lines have created numerous issues as the industry has blossomed in recent years.
Millions of British households missed out on clean energy generated by strong winds in January because a crucial undersea cable stopped working, and record levels of power created by wind farms in Scotland could not be piped to heavily populated parts of England due to faults with the Western HVDC Link, a network of underwater cables that runs down the UK west coast.