UK bracing for possible January blackouts

Woman holds candle up to electricity meter
Image: Shutterstock

Bloomberg reports the UK is planning for several days over the winter when cold weather may combine with gas shortages, leading to organised blackouts for industry and even households.

Related article: US states facing further blackouts this summer

Under the government’s latest “reasonable worst-case scenario”, the UK could face an electricity capacity shortfall totalling about a sixth of peak demand—even after emergency coal plants have been fired up.

Below-average temperatures and reduced electricity imports from Norway and France could expose four days in January when the UK may need to trigger emergency measures to conserve gas. 

The scenario is “not something we expect to happen,” the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said in a statement. “Households, businesses and industry can be confident they will get the electricity and gas they need.”

Related article: Australia’s eastern states face blackout risk from 2025

If the winter is particularly cold, Britain may have to rely increasingly on pipeline shipments of gas from mainland Europe, where supplies are already thin as Moscow withholds gas. That presents a dilemma for the UK, which has very little domestic storage capacity. The nation has been shipping record amounts of gas to the continent and will want the favour returned when temperatures plunge. 

Previous articleSenex embarks on $1b Australian gas expansion
Next articleTransgrid launches community sentiment program