BRITAIN'S NATIONAL Grid has warned that generator closures and breakdowns have reduced its capacity to supply electricity to a seven year low.
Its 2014/15 Winter Outlook report bases its figures on similar demand for last winter whilst taking into account that since 2012, 15 power plants have been closed or partially closed, taking out a sizeable chunk of the UK's energy-generating capacity.
Three years ago spare capacity on the Grid was 17%. This time last year it was down to 5%, but this winter it is expected to be down to about 4% spare capacity.
However Cordi O’Hara, director of market operation at National Grid, said: “The electricity margin has decreased compared to recent years, but the outlook remains manageable and well within the reliability standard set by Government.”
The network operator said it was finalising contracts with three UK power stations to provide reserve power in case of higher-than-expected demand.
Professor Jim Watson of the UK Energy Research Centre, said he thought that it was “very unlikely we will see blackouts in the UK, but what it does mean, this tight situation, is that lots and lots of extra measures are having to be layered on top of an already complicated policy framework."
National Grid said the measures, alongside existing emergency demand-reduction plans to pay businesses to cut their usage at peak times, would together cost households less than £1 and should bolster spare capacity back to 6%.