Will there be blackouts this winter?

Article posted

4th Dec 2023

Read time

3-5 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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As we are now well into the current winter, many are wondering about a potential energy crunch in the UK. Over the past few years blackouts have been something that the Electricity System Operator has warned about. With the UK still not out the clear completely with the energy crisis, many wonder weather potential blackouts will cause an issue.

Although it is unlikely that we will see blackouts . National Grid, the UK's electricity system operator, paints a cautiously optimistic picture. Their September 2023 report, while acknowledging a "de-rated margin" of available power compared to last year, maintains that widespread blackouts remain an improbable scenario.

However during the cold weather the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) has been in play. This scheme rewards energy consumers for not using certain household appliances during peak times of the day. This keeps the energy demand down to avoid power cuts.

Factors Fueling Uncertainty

Although the National Grids ESO has said that power outages this winter are unlikely there are still some factors that are a cause for concearned.

  • Global Gas Crisis: The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to disrupt global energy markets, driving up gas prices. This could impact gas-fired power generation in the UK.
  • Renewable Reliance: Britain's increasing reliance on wind and solar power is commendable, but these sources are weather-dependent. Prolonged cold spells or low wind speeds could strain the grid.
  • Demand Dynamics: Energy bills soar due to the aforementioned factors, potentially leading to consumers reducing usage. This could create unforeseen imbalances in the system.

Measures to Mitigate the Risk

National Grid and policymakers are proactively tackling these challenges:

  • Demand Flexibility Scheme: A program in place where households and businesses can be financially incentivized to reduce electricity consumption during peak periods.
  • Strategic Fuel Reserves: Increased coal and gas stockpiles provide additional options for power generation, albeit with environmental concerns.
  • International Collaboration: Efforts are underway to secure alternative gas sources and improve grid connection with European neighbors.

What can you do?

While the overall risk of blackouts is low, your business should always have a plan just in case of an emergency blackout.

  • Stay informed: Follow updates from National Grid and local authorities for any potential issues.
  • Be energy-efficient: Reduce your consumption through simple measures alike switching off lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Have a backup plan: Keep torches, battery-powered radios, and essential supplies readily available in case of any unexpected outages.

While the specter of winter blackouts looms larger than usual, thanks to proactive measures and a diversified energy mix, a widespread blackout remains highly unlikely. However, individual vigilance and continued efforts towards energy efficiency remain crucial.

Find out more about what to do in the case of emergencies here.

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