Emergency Winter Electricity Scheme Cancelled

  • Date: 23/08/16
  • Kiran Stacey, Financial Times

One of the flagship schemes for keeping Britain’s lights on this winter has been cancelled at the last moment due to a lack of demand, illustrating the difficulties policymakers are having in balancing the UK’s electricity supplies.

National Grid had promised to pay organisations that were willing to turn off or turn down equipment this winter if there was a spike in demand or a drop in supply. The scheme proved vital last year when several power plants unexpectedly shut down — heavy electricity users such as businesses, hospitals and factories took 40MW of demand off the system in response.

But this year National Grid has cancelled the scheme, known as the “demand-side balancing reserve”, after too few users said they were willing to put themselves on standby. The move could cost the grid millions of pounds, which it expected to receive from the energy regulator to implement the policy.

The grid’s decision, which was announced in a letter to the few organisations who did apply, shows how difficult the company is finding it to keep supply and demand balanced with large old power stations rapidly reaching the end of their lives. National Grid has said it expects the margin between supply and demand at peak hours during this winter to be the lowest ever.

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