The UK National Grid is expected to confirm today (15 Oct) that Britain will face the highest risk of blackouts in almost a decade this winter, with the amount of ‘spare’ electricity expected to fall to just 1.2% – if temperatures plunge as forecast.
Last night, Tanuja Randery, President UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric – the energy management and automation supplier – warned: “The electricity supply over demand margin is at its tightest during the coldest hours of winter. It is the management of energy during these critical winter hours that will determine if the UK is plunged into darkness.
“The energy dilemma can be addressed by a multitude of forces. Most notably, the UK’s provisioning of reserve capacity, combined with active network management and integrating renewables into the grid.
“Active network management is at the heart of the UK’s energy predicament. Real-time monitoring of production, demand and flows across the grid, allow for peaks to be forecast and accommodated.
“Overall, energy capacity has dropped because of the closure of three UK power stations since last winter. Investment in renewable energy must be encouraged as a means of avoiding future energy crunches.
“Just 9.5% of the UK’s electricity was generated by on- and offshore wind in 2014, but much more green energy production is possible. Cuts to subsidies and the curtailment of significant renewable energy projects needs to be reviewed, and quickly.”
“The immediate impact of the winter capacity crunch will be an extra 50 pence on household energy bills. For large consumers of energy in industries, that could mean planned downtime during the coldest peaks. In the long term, there must be a continued focus on creating a system that uses less energy and gains more power from renewable sources.
“Large energy-consuming industries include the chemicals sector and food and drink industry, so to place emphasis here will drive the most benefits. The focus must be on identifying, and acting on opportunities for energy savings.”