July 26, 2021
Britain at risk of winter blackouts, warns system operator.
Reported today

The Guardian Newspaper reports there is a greater risk of blackouts owing to the closure of coal plants and nuclear reactors.

As the economy resurfaces from the Covid-19 restrictions, old coal plants and nuclear reactors are due to be shut down. As a result, Britain will face its most significant threat of blackouts in six years. 

The newspaper reports that the National Grid’s electricity system operator expects the UK’s electricity demand to return to “normal levels” this winter. Therefore we should be braced for “some tight periods”. 

Conventionally, the National Grid has published its winter forecasts in September; however, they surprised the market last Thursday when they published a preview report. 
“Following tighter margins in winter 2020-21 compared to previous winters, we have decided to publish an early view of the margin for winter 2021-22. We believe this will help to inform the electricity industry and support preparations for the winter ahead,” it reads. 

The report disseminated a string of official warnings. Last winter’s tight electricity supplies are expected to intensify this winter due to an “uncertainty” regarding the country’s power supplies. It has even been suggested that some situations may see the “margin” of forecast electricity supplies surmount demand by 5.3%. This margin would be the tightest recorded since the winter of 2015-2016, when businesses were forced to reduce electricity usage after a torrent of coal plant breakdowns. 

The system operator stated electricity supplies were put under heavy pressure last year, notwithstanding the 3-4% drop in energy demands as the public avoided pubs, restaurants and office spaces during the pandemic. Britain’s last remaining coal power plants have subsequently been put under strain as the country has been forced to rely on them to meet the enormous demand.

This year threatens to be only more challenging; the closure of older nuclear plants means that the UK’s ability to fix a sudden outage at a power plant, subsea power cable or low wind speeds has dramatically decreased. It is assumed that Dungeness B and Hunterston B nuclear power stations will no longer be available for the full duration of winter. Additionally, the Baglan Bay, Severn Power and Sutton Bridge gas power stations will remain completely unavailable. 

“While we remain confident there is sufficient supply to meet peak demand, we should prepare for some tight periods during the winter” as there “is still some uncertainty” with regards to electricity supplies, the electricity system operator said.

For more information on this story, visit the Guardian website: 




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