Britain is facing a bleak winter of soaring energy costs, with gas prices rising by a staggering 37 per cent in a single day and pushing more energy firms to the brink of collapse while the National Grid warned of electricity shortages as the country faces its worst crisis since the first Covid outbreak last year.
Millions are facing a financial squeeze because of rising inflation driven by labour shortages, rising energy costs, a lack of HGV drivers and gaps in global supply chains, as it was revealed hard-pressed families face paying £1,700 more for energy in April and an extra £1,800 for other essentials by Christmas.
While Boris Johnson today brushed off the crisis and used his Manchester Tory conference speech to set out his vision for a ‘high wage, high skilled, high productivity’ economy, the price of wholesale gas surged by £1 a unit to 400p per therm this morning – up 37 per cent in a day and 600 per cent higher than the start of 2021.
Prices reversed course hours later, sending the UK contracts back to £2.87, after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to stabilise the gas market by saying that state-backed monopoly exporter Gazprom could increase supplies to Europe. Critics accused Mr Putin of trying to stave off allegations that Moscow is trying to ‘weaponise’ gas supplies amid tensions between Russia and NATO powers over Ukraine.
On a day of worsening news, National Grid’s chief executive John Pettigrew told the FT that Britain will face tighter electricity supplies this winter due to a lack of capacity in the system and a colder winter predicted, which means the cost of electricity will increase as gas prices spike to record high.
Investment experts Moody’s also warned that more UK energy firms will go to the wall, which will push hundreds of thousands of people on to more expensive tariffs with new providers. While Britain’s Energy Intensive Users Group, which represents steel, chemical and fertiliser firms, said production at some plants is already being halted ‘at times of peak demand’ due to energy prices. They have called on the Government to give financial support to keep businesses in the way a taxpayer-funded deal to curb CO2 shortages was done to keep two fertiliser plants running last month.
The explosive rise that will hit households and businesses is being fed by fears that a cost of living crisis has arrived as global oil prices also jumped to a three-year high of $83 a barrel.