Friday, 22 March 2013

The media wakes up to the current energy shortage

Today Reuters and the BBC realised we don't have much gas left in UK storage. I've been blogging about this on and off for some years now, and in particular over the past month or so, and finally it's deemed important enough to be in the news.

Britain is grappling with a potential gas supply crisis as a late blast of winter depletes stored reserves, coal power plants close and pending maintenance in Norway threatens to further squeeze supply.

The country risks running out of stored gas by April 8 based on the fall in its reserves seen since the cold hit at the beginning of March, Reuters calculations show.

Gas storage sites have been depleted by 90 percent, with the equivalent of less than two days' consumption remaining, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe shows.

If the cold persists, as is forecast, the UK may need to cut gas supplies to some big industrial customers, as it did in 2010 at a time of severe gas shortages. source
The BBC starts with a message from SSE about the impending electricity crunch, and mentions the gas issue later on:
The boss of the energy firm SSE has warned that "there is a very real risk of the lights going out" in Britain.

Ian Marchant said the government was significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the country.

He was commenting on the company's decision to cut back on power generation at five sites.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, has also warned of an increased risk of a blackout.

In February it predicted power station closures could mean a 10% fall in capacity by April alone.

SSE points out that the regulator did not take into account its plans to cut power generation when the warning was issued and that therefore, makes the warning even more stark.
SSE is reducing its energy generation by 2,000MW over the next year. The power stations affected are Ferrybridge, Keadby, Slough, Uskmouth and Peterhead. It is also postponing further investment in gas-fired electricity generation until at least 2015. source
Just to make matters worse, the current cold snap comes just as Didcot A coal power station shuts down - it will stop generating at 2pm today,  so that's 2,000 MW of capacity which will need to be replaced by gas from this afternoon.
Aerial view from Paramotor of Didcot Power Station, Dave Price, from wikimedia

Don't forget you can keep an eye on the current gas supply situation on the National Grid website. The next few days are forecast to be very cold - more news to follow as it happens...

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