The European Union could ban gas exports and limit industrial use as part of emergency measures to protect household energy supplies this winter, as it braces for a possible halt in Russian gas as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
After unexpected plant shutdowns which have raised fears of potential shortages, National Grid started seeking additional electricity supplies for winter. One of the possible solutions was the extra supply capacity from power generators as a precautionary measure.
The action follows a number of problems at power generation plants across the UK over the last couple of months. Fires at both Ironbridge and Ferrybridge power stations, as well as the closure of Barking, have put additional strain on the UK’s energy supply.
Fears over winter supplies aroused by the temporary shutdown of four nuclear reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool owned by EDF Energy. A crack was found in a boiler at one of them in August and the closure was initially expected to be short term.
The National Grid’s plan is to ask major consumers, largely factories, to reduce their energy usage when demand is at peak levels.
However, according to the UK’s Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, the outages, along with the loss of generating capacity at SSE’s fire-damaged Ferrybridge coal-fired plant, will not lead to power shortages.
Davey told MPs: “We have taken a number of measures to ensure the security of the UK’s energy supply, including introducing new electricity system balancing measures. He added: “The impact that that will have on our margins over the winter has already been taken account of in National Grid’s analysis and procurement plans.”