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National Grid warns over winter blackout risk in UK



The supplier of the UK’s gas and electricity has said that the difference between power generated and energy demand might be tighter than ever this winter, as many polluting plants prepare for closure.

The National Grid says that supplies are sufficient to last through the season, but that there are short supplies of backup power. It predicts that the electricity margin against peak demand will be 5% lower than any other year.

The National Grid’s director of market operations Chris Train said, “As long as the market responds in the way that it has done historically then we will be absolutely fine.”

In its 2013/14 winter outlook report, the organisation said the new legislation on old power plants and greenhouse gas emissions had contributed to making some sites close down.

However, Train added, “While there have been power station closures since last winter, the information suggests that the market can meet demand in cold weather.

“But as the system operator, we’re never complacent and it’s up to us to be ready to balance the system in real time. We believe we are ready and have the tools we need to play our part”

New gas sites and renewable energy structures have partly compensated closure of old polluting coal and oil-fired power plants. At the same time, peak demand has sharply fallen thanks to energy saving measures.

Angela Knight, chief of trade body Energy UK, said that the figures were a clear call for investment.

This is not scaremongering”, she said. “What we need right now is clear, pragmatic energy policy to keep energy affordable, long-term certainty to attract vital investment and the necessary back-up to ensure we have energy security when and where it’s needed

In May, the National Grid revealed that energy providers were holding back gas reserves during the March shortages, when Britain was facing a potential energy supply crisis and rising prices.

Further reading:

Suppliers accused of ‘holding back gas’ during March shortages

British Gas profits shoot up because of 2013 cold spell

Energy companies accused of profiteering and infiltration

Good Energy: providing renewable energy for the masses

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013



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