Energy MPs on the Westminster parliament are to question National Grid about UK energy security after its Winter Outlook Report predicted a capacity margin of 5.1% for electricity in the winter ahead – the tightest in a decade.
The pressures on the system were highlighted on 4 November, when a NISM (Notice of Insufficient System Margin) was issued, back-up generation was employed, and prices in the wholesale market surged to over £400/MWh – several times their normal level. The hearing will investigate the following topics:
- National Grid’s predictions for security of supply in the UK electricity and gas markets
- The availability of electricity generation this winter
- The likelihood of insufficient margins and National Grid’s tools to respond to these
- Next winter – are early reports of even narrower margins to come accurate?
- Long-term trends in electricity generation and consumption, and whether mechanisms like the Capacity Market are sufficient to cope with them
Angus MacNeil MP (SNP, Stornoway) Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, explained:
“The security of our electricity supply is something we all take for granted, but a lot of effort goes on behind the scenes to keep the lights on and the gas flowing. The closure of polluting coal-fired generation has left capacity margins at worryingly low levels this winter.
“Making a swift transition to a low-carbon economy is crucial, but meeting the every-day energy demands of households and businesses must always take priority. National Grid has statutory responsibility to keep the lights on: the Committee intends to examine their capability to do so.”
The Energy and Climate Change Committee is holding a one-off hearing on 24 November at 10am to question:
- Cordi O’Hara, Director, UK System Operator, National Grid
- Duncan Burt, Head, Operate the System, National Grid
- Ro Quinn, Head, Energy Strategy and Policy, National Grid