National Grid warns of winter blackout risk

The UK faces a heightened risk of power blackouts over the winter as rising demand and supply gaps continue to wreak havoc across the energy market.

A fire at a converter station in Kent in September disrupted the IFA interconnector that usually brings in around 2 gigawatts of power from France. It is thought that only half of this will be back in working order by late March next year.

In July the National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) warned that the UK must prepare for constrained supplies over the winter as post-pandemic demand spikes and nuclear power plants shut down.

In it’s official Winter outlook published today, the ESO warned that Britain’s few remaining coal-fired stations are also likely to run more frequently than in 2020 as they scramble to take advantage of the profits to be made from gaps in other power supplies.

A cold winter in 2020 left Europe’s natural gas stocks low, and a less windy summer than usual meant reduced generation from renewables.

The UK has also reduced its gas storage facilities in recent years.

In 2017 British Gas closed its storage site off the Yorkshire coast in 2017 as the project was not currently profitable and the facilities that remain are smaller in comparison.

The issue has been exacerbated by lower-than-expected Russian gas supplies and increased demand across Asia.