Threat of UK winter power black-outs underlines importance of Longannet for future of Scottish energy security

Longannet power station
Longannet power station

12.00-midday

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has today emphasised the importance of the Longannet thermal power station in ensuring the lights stay on in Britain this winter.

Responding to an earlier report in today’s Scottish Energy News ( Highest risk in a decade this year of winter power cuts as UK grid capacity margin falls to 1.2%http://goo.gl/JZVuPj ) the Minister accused the UK government of complacency over the risk of black-outs.

The National Grid’s Winter Review and Consultation report has confirmed that the margin of spare generating capacity could be as low as 1.2% for this coming winter, compared to a margin of 4.1% last winter.

The report presents a review of the security of supply in gas and electricity for the last winter (2014/15) and launches an industry consultation on National Grid’s forecasts for the coming winter (2015/16), which will conclude in August.

Ewing said: “Next year the margins could be under even greater pressure if Longannet is forced to close prematurely.

“The current transmission charging regime for Great Britain was introduced by the UK Government in 2005. Since then, successive UK Governments have failed to address the significant disincentive to any new thermal generation in Scotland which these charges present.

“The UK Government’s policy continues to impact negatively on the existing thermal generating capability in Scotland, and in particular on the potential for new power stations to be built.

“These figures show that the national grid is becoming even harder pressed to keep the lights on this winter.

“Thermal energy is a source of generation which has a significant impact on grid capacity margins and can enhance energy security.

“At a time when the UK Government is presiding over a period of extremely narrow generation capacity margins, it has chosen not to intervene regarding the unfair transmission charges which are threatening the future of thermal generation in Scotland.

“Given the need to address shrinking capacity margins it makes no sense to cancel planned onshore wind developments, as the UK government is doing through the removal of financial support. The situation of narrowing capacity margins will only be exacerbated if Longannet closes prematurely.

“It is vital, therefore, that all possible options for averting the premature closure of the Longannet site are explored, such as action to address discriminatory transmission charges.

The Scottish Government has raised these concerns at the highest level in the UK Government and is engaging all relevant authorities and agencies alongside Scottish Power to secure the best possible outcomes for those affected throughout the local economy and further afield by the uncertainty of the site.”

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