Why is the United Kingdom at the possible risk of Energy Rationing or Electricity Blackouts this Winter?
Our main source of Electricity Generation within the United Kingdom is Gas, however due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, there have been a level of Sanctions issued which in turn has seen imports of this commodity to Europe reduced to almost nothing.
Although the level of Gas we previously imported from Russia was minimal, it was, however, the primary source for the continent of Europe. Due to these sanctions, Europe are now looking to other countries to supply Gas, of which pushes up the overall price and availability, affecting our ability to source enough for our requirements.
In the absence of Gas, our electricity generation is heavily reliant upon renewable initiatives. Our renewable electricity generation is heavily waited on Wind Power through the Colder Months. It is expected, that if we see a drop in this method through the next 6 – 8 months, a level of Rationing will be required at certain points, to ensure Electricity Blackouts can be averted.
Although the New Prime Minister Liz Truss has categorically ruled out Energy Rationing this Winter, it is a real possibility some level of intervention is required, as circumstances out of our control will determine this requirement.
What could Energy Rationing look like?
The United Kingdom Government have in place planned contingencies, should Energy Rationing be required, to preserve enough Electricity to prevent Blackouts, however fortunately these are rarely used.
Between 1973 – 1974, our government implemented a series of scheduled & planned Electricity Blackouts to manage energy shortages. The outcome of this included the mandate of a three-day week for the commercial use of Electricity, with other areas including work & leisure having to take place using candlelight and battery powered torches.
Current reports indicate the United Kingdom may have a shortfall of 10 Hours of Electricity Generation, whereby Rationing will be required to avoid Blackouts. This was previously indicated to be a level of 29 hours, however averted with the Government’s move to keep several coal-fired power stations open for the foreseeable future.
The Governments “Worst Case Scenario” issued in August 2022 indicated we could face an Electricity capacity shortfall totaling about 1/6th of the required peak demand, even after emergency coal plants were fired up. It was noted that should we experience below-average temperatures and reduced electricity imports from allies, it could expose four days in January when we may need to trigger emergency measures to conserve Gas.
It is likely any rationing measures will be minimal at first, with a view to reducing Voltage to certain areas of the country, allowing Electricity to remain on but at a reduced power factor, to conserve levels. This is also known as an “Electricity Brown Out”. Any further measures will likely be requests made by the Government, rather than enforcement, asking for conservation in usage of Industrial & Commercial Premises for certain periods, to protect Domestic Users & Households.
Further measures may also include requests to reduce energy usage during peak periods of the day, around 14:00pm and between 16:00 & 20:00pm of an evening, however these will be confirmed in advance.
It is important to note that with the recent reopening of Centrica Storage Ltd Rough Gas Storage Field, and the recent Energy Security Agreements our Government has signed with Allies, the above still seems unlikely, however in the current climate it is certainly possible a level of Energy Reduction maybe required.
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