National Grid at winter low
28th October, 2015
The National Grid has said that electricity margins will be “tight but manageable” this winter, after revealing that the risk of blackouts is the highest in over a decade.
This year’s forecast capacity margin – the difference between available supply and forecast peak demand – is just 1.2%, the lowest since 2006. National Grid have put emergency measures in place in order to secure additional supplies, including paying power stations to provide extra capacity and asking companies to be ready to reduce electricity usage. With these measures, the margin rises to 5.1%.
In its winter report, National Grid said that the energy balancing services it has in place will be enough “to meet even the tightest week”.
“We expect electricity margins to be tight but manageable for this winter. We have procured our contingency balancing services which we may need to use in order to help us balance the system,” it added.
This report comes after criticisms in July that National Grid oversaw a huge fall in spare capacity, meaning that it had to buy in £36.5m of emergency capacity for the coming winter.
In an interview with the Financial Times, chief corporate officer of Scottish Power Keith Anderson warned that the National Grid will “start going to various industries or large users and saying: at certain times of the year, or at certain days, or at certain times of the day, switch off the energy please, because we don’t have enough.”
Greenpeace’s chief scientist Doug Parr commented that recent events were part of a trend – and that change to the UK’s energy infrastructure is needed.
“Every year the National Grid say they can keep the lights on, but every winter, some still say our energy infrastructure will struggle to cope with a cold snap. George Osborne needs to empower cities and towns to provide local, decentralised energy which can help provide the resilience that the country needs, alongside a smart interconnected grid and clean energy,” he said.
With large businesses having to reduce their energy usage, and smaller businesses facing the reality of disruptions to their energy supply, this winter is set to have a serious impact on UK businesses.