Britain faces risk of winter blackouts, system operator warns

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Britain faces its biggest risk of power outages in six years this winter as old coal-fired power stations and nuclear reactors close and demand for energy rises as the economy emerges from restrictions of Covid-19.

The National Grid power grid manager, who is responsible for keeping the lights on, said he expects the country’s electricity demand to return to normal levels this winter and prepare for “Tight times”.

The system manager issued a surprise report warning that tensions over electricity supply recorded last winter could be tighter in the coming winter due to “uncertainty” over the country’s electricity supplies.

He said that in certain scenarios, the “margin” of forecasted electricity supplies could exceed demand by 5.3%, the narrowest margin recorded since the winter of 2015-2016, when National Grid was forced to ask businesses reduce their electricity use to keep the lights on. after a series of blackouts in coal-fired power stations.

National Grid has traditionally released its winter forecast in September but surprised the market Thursday by releasing a preview report.

“Following tighter margins in winter 2020-21 compared to previous winters, we have decided to publish an overview of the margin for winter 2021-22. We believe this will help educate the power industry and support preparations for the coming winter, ”he said.

The system operator has issued a series of official warnings that the electricity supply was under pressure last year, despite a 3-4% drop in energy demand as people stayed behind. gap of offices, pubs and restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK has been forced to rely on its latest coal-fired power plants to meet demand during cold periods, again when demand was high and wind speeds low last winter. This year, it might be more difficult to cover the loss of a sudden power plant failure, an underwater power cable or low wind speeds due to the shutdown of older nuclear power plants.

The grid operator assumed that the Dungeness B and Hunterston B nuclear power plants would not be available throughout the winter, and that the gas plants in Baglan Bay, Severn Power and Sutton Bridge would remain unavailable.

“While we remain confident that there is sufficient supply to meet peak demand, we need to prepare for difficult times during the winter” as there is “still some uncertainty” regarding the electricity supply, said the manager of the electricity network.

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