The head of the National Grid has spoken out about the potential blackouts the UK could face in the winter months. At the Financial Times’s Energy Transition Summit John Pettigrew spoke about the “unlikely” scenarios in which Britain may not have sufficient energy supplies.
As gas and electricity prices have seen astronomical increases and families across the UK struggle to heat their homes amid the cost of living crisis, the energy crisis means that there is a small chance that Britain may not have sufficient energy to power homes in the darkest months.
Sky News reported that Britain gets 40% of its electricity from gas-fired power stations and gas heats the vast majority of homes. It’s reported that if the UK experiences extreme cold weather this winter that would put a large strain on national electricity supplies.
Pettigrew confirmed that periods of particular concern are throughout January and February when weather can be at its coldest. He said that the company would have to impose rolling power cuts the “deepest darkest evenings in January and February” if generators failed to secure enough gas to meet demand.
The warning comes after previous statements from the National Grid that the risk of gas shortages in winter have risen, but this is the first time that there has been explicit discussion about what time blackouts may take place. The crisis is not specific to the UK with most European countries facing gas shortages this winter due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian gas imports.
However, the National Grid Chief did confirm that the companies unchanged ‘base case’ suggests there would be sufficient gas and power to meet demand in Britain this winter adding: “In the context of the terrible things that are going on in the Ukraine and the consequences of that, it was right that we set out what some of the potential risks could be”.
So, when would the potential blackouts happen and why? Here’s everything we know so far about the energy crisis.
When could the blackouts happen?
The National Grid chief, John Pettigrew, gave insight into when UK families could experience blackouts saying that households should prepare for blackouts between ‘4pm and 7pm on really cold weekdays throughout January and February’ in the event of reduced gas imports from Europe.
However, Mr.Pettigrew did reiterate that this was a worst case scenario and that a huge amount of work is being done by energy suppliers to ensure vulnerable households receive support should the blackouts be imposed.
Why could the UK see blackouts throughout the winter months?
While the UK does not import gas from Russia it does import electricity and gas from European countries that do rely on Russian gas. The UK Government has been taking steps such as putting coal-fired power stations on standby instead of closing them and creating a service reward for not using power during peak times, to avoid blackouts.