Power supplies could be ‘tight’ at times this winter, electricity body says

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Britain’s electricity supply might be tight at times this winter, the body that is tasked with balancing the grid has said. The Electricity System Operator (ESO) forecast that margins might narrow significantly towards the very end of the year, but it believes it should be able to keep the lights on.

“Our operational modelling indicates that there could be some tight periods this winter, which are most likely to occur in the first half of December,” it said in a report issued ahead of winter. The grid needs to make sure that it has enough electricity generators ready to go when demand for electricity peaks.

It means that it needs to maintain a margin above the forecasted demand to deal with any short spikes. If the margin falls below certain levels the ESO will send out a so-called Electricity Margin Notice (EMN). This lets generators know that more electricity is needed.

The ESO said that it might need to use the EMNs this winter to ensure supply is stable. “We may need to use our standard operational tools to manage these periods should they occur which, for example, may mean issuing EMNs,” it said.

“We expect there to be sufficient available capacity to respond to these market signals to meet consumer demand.” In the report it notes that Britain is not as reliant on Russian gas as other countries in Europe.

But “it is clear that the cessation of flows of gas into Europe could have knock-on impacts, including very high prices,” the report said. The ESO has worked with the Government to ensure that four coal power stations are still ready to use if they need to be called on this winter – they are working on a fifth.

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