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18th Oct 2022

Brits told to expect blackouts for several hours on cold weekday evenings

Charlie Herbert

Brits told to expect blackouts for several hours on cold weekday evenings

The lights are most likely to go out when the temperatures are at their lowest

The National Grid has warned that British households could be facing blackouts during the height of winter due to energy shortages.

As the cost of living crisis grips the nation, we’re also facing the prospect of enforced blackouts on “really, really cold” days in January and February.

John Pettigrew, the National Grid chief, said blackouts would have to be imposed during the “deepest darkest evenings” in January and February if electricity generators did not have enough gas to meet demand, especially if there is a period of cold weather.

Although he made clear that the National Grid had not changed its “base case” of there being sufficient gas and power for the country this winter, Pettigrew explained that it was “right that we set out what some of the potential risks could be” this winter.

Speaking at the Financial Times’s Energy Transition Summit on Monday, Pettigrew said that in the “worst case” circumstances, power would be cut off to parts of the country for up to three hours “probably between 4pm and 7pm in the evenings on those weekdays when it’s really, really cold in January and February.”

So yes, the most likely time for blackouts will be when it is the coldest.

Sounds fun doesn’t it?

Pettigrew said there was a “huge amount of work” being done by energy suppliers, the regulator and officials to ensure vulnerable households in particular received support should it become necessary to impose blackouts.

He added that the situation could worsen if wind speeds are low, thus cutting the effectiveness of power turbines.

Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine means that Britain, along with much of Europe, is facing the very real prospect of gas and electricity shortages this winter.

Although Britain does not rely on Russia for gas, we do draw on European supplies to keep power stations running during the coldest months.

The issue is that countries across Europe usually rely on Russia for their gas in the colder months. Due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian gas imports, many European countries are facing gas shortages this year.

And back in August Russia shut off the Nordstream 1 pipeline, leaving energy analysts very concerned for the winter.

Countries across Europe have been left unable to rely on Russia for their gas as the colder months approach and, despite rationing, analysts said further cuts from Moscow could leave the continent short of supplies.

Britain gets 40% of its electricity from gas-fired power stations while gas heats the vast majority of homes, Sky News reports.

A number of measures are being planned to avoid blackouts, including placing coal-fired power stations on standby instead of retiring them as previously planned and an incentivisation scheme to get households to curb their energy usage during periods of low supply.

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