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UK’s Blackout Prevention Plans In Doubt After Back-Up Power Plant Fails

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Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph

Peterhead power station, paid to guarantee it can help keep the lights on, fails to function properly during testing

Ed Miliband's price pledge threatens to bring forward Britain's energy crisis by a year, to winter 2014-2015, analsyts warn

A spokesman for National Grid said it was in the process of discussing with SSE what had gone wrong at Peterhead during last week’s test.

Britain’s plans to keep the lights on this winter have been thrown into fresh doubt after a power plant supposed to provide back-up electricity supplies failed during testing.

The Peterhead gas-fired station in northern Scotland was unable to generate power as expected during a test last week, it has emerged.

The plant, owned by energy giant SSE, was one of three power stations handed a contract last month by National Grid to be paid to guarantee they could fire up if needed, as part of emergency measures to prevent blackouts.

The plans were drawn up after a series of power plant closures eroded Britain’s spare electricity generation capacity – the safety buffer between peak supply and demand – to wafer-thin levels.

The three back-up power plants recruited under the emergency plans were supposed to guarantee they would be available if required between 6am and 8pm on weekdays from November to February.

But Peterhead, a 32-year old plant with 780-megawatt capacity, unexpectedly failed to produce required power levels last Thursday during a monthly “proving” test.

“We are in the process of discussing what did go wrong,” a spokesman for National Grid said.

Both SSE and National Grid declined to disclose details of the fault or to confirm whether it had now been fixed.

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