National Grid will pay £122m to keep fossil fuel plants on standby
Contracts worth £122m to keep coal and gas-fired power stations on standby will help Britain avoid electricity blackouts this winter, National Grid has forecast, highlighting the difficulties facing the UK as it attempts to wean its power sector off fossil fuels.
The UK’s electricity system operator forecast that the margin between supply and demand over the course of the winter would be 6.6 per cent, an increase of almost 30 per cent on last year’s cushion and wider than a provisional forecast made in July.
However, without measures to ensure the availability of back-up generating capacity when regular supplies run low, the margin this winter would be close to record lows at 1.1 per cent, according to National Grid’s annual Winter Outlook.
National Grid will pay for 10 coal and gas-fired plants to keep spare capacity on standby, with further sums to be paid if they are called into action. These include coal plants at Eggborough in Yorkshire and Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire that had previously been earmarked for closure.
The dependence on fossil fuels to guarantee energy security during the winter months highlights the challenge facing the UK government as it seeks to phase out coal-fired power by 2025 in pursuit of aggressive carbon reduction goals.