The National Grid has once again sent out a warning that electricity supplies in the United Kingdom will be stretched as less than expected electricity generators are going to be available at peak times. This is the second warning in the last three weeks that the national grid has announced. As well as limited electricity generators, the National Grid also expects that electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind or solar power will be lower than expected.
The warning was issued late on Tuesday to the market which requested that more capacity should be made available for the next day so that there would be an increased buffer between the supply and demand for electricity across the nation. The National Grid did however insist that there would be enough electricity generation to meet demand.
National Grid tweeted earlier on Tuesday that it has predicted that there would be tight margins on Wednesday between supply and demand. The group, who runs the electricity system across the United Kingdom, put the tight margins down to multiple factors including that there was a lower renewable output and limited availability of generators during periods of the day where demand would peak.
It is now the second time in less than three weeks that the group has had to issue an unusual warning that electricity supplies are running close to demand. The first warning came during the middle of October when multiple power stations (including biomass, coal and gas) became wholly or partially unavailable due to failures that were not expected. During this time there were also reduced wind speeds meaning that wind power was producing less electricity than expected.
Warnings like this are unprecedented in Britain as blackouts are very uncommon, however as renewable power becomes more prominent within the UK electricity system the National Grid will have new challenges trying to balance the renewable output with the old traditional methods of generation electricity.
Supporters of the more traditional methods of electricity generation, such as nuclear power, believe that the United Kingdom should continue to invest in more stable and reliable methods of producing electricity. This would limit the amount of times that the margins between supply and demand run close as the reliable traditional methods would make up for when the renewables are not able to produce electricity.
Back in September the National Grid issued a much more serious warning to the market that was triggered automatically as supply ran very close to demand however the warning was later taken back.
Some experts believe that the most recent issues have been caused by the electricity imports from the under the sea cables – interconnectors, which are used when countries trade electricity amongst each other. Some of these countries include, Ireland, Belgium and France.
In a recent report from last month the National Grid also stated that the margin between supply and demand this winter would be smaller than it was last winter due to some power stations having outages or being closed down. However, the margin between supply and demand should still stay well within the electricity reliability standards that are set out by the UK government.
The coronavirus pandemic is also presenting new challenges to the National Grid as they have to deal with these unprecedented times. During the first lockdown demand dropped and supply increased so they were left to deal with a mass excess of supply of electricity.