UK faces widespread winter electricity blackouts

30th December 2016 | Residential Energy

According to a report, the UK faces winter electricity blackouts unless radical changes are made to the UK’s electricity network. The British Infrastructure Group published a report called “Electric Shock: Will The Christmas Lights Go Out Next Winter?” It looked at the problems Britain faces by trying to meet climate change goals.

It warned that Government targets for closing coal power stations have reduced the UK’s generating output.  This is despite their planned replacement with renewable energy sources.

Problems include electricity bill surges and slashed capacity margins, which are “so tight that National Grid’s emergency power deals have become the norm.”

Capacity Margins

MP Grant Shapps, chair of the group, said the report focussed on the “dangerously small electricity capacity margins”.  These have been “left in the wake of a decade of target-led, interventionist energy policy.”

“While nobody questions the noble intentions behind these interventions, it is clear that a perfect coincidence of numerous policies designed to reduce Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions has had the unintended effect of hollowing out the reliability of the electricity generating sector,” he continued.

Findings within the report claim that in recent winters the country’s spare electricity margin has fallen from around 17% during the winter of 2011-12 to around 1% this winter. The report says “there is a sustained danger of intermittent blackouts for the foreseeable future”.  It also says that this is down to “dwindling base capacity and freak weather events.”

And that in order to plug the capacity gap, household bills could increase by as much as £30 a year – nearly double Government estimates.

The report also stated that the National Grid has been given the go ahead by the Government to pursue emergency measures.  These are designed to cover peak demand and prevent blackouts. They will stop the country’s lights going out during peak periods include restarting old coal power stations, according to the report.

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