UK warns of three-hour winter blackouts if gas demand falls short

Britain’s national electricity supplier has warned citizens should brace for up to three hours of blackouts this winter if gas supplies are “unlikely” to go out.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) announced Thursday that it has taken steps to take precautionary measures to ensure gas supplies from October 31 to March 31, 2023.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means that overall this is likely to be a challenging winter for energy supplies across Europe,” the national operator said in a statement, which highlighted several scenarios in which Brits could switch off their power supplies during peak periods .

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“There may be days when it has been cold (hence likely high demand), with little wind (reduced available generation), when supply to some customers may need to be interrupted for limited periods,” ESO said, adding, that all power outages would be “managed and controlled.”

“However, we anticipate that our mitigation efforts will be effective,” she added.

Officials said the public can also help by not overusing the heat and limiting electricity consumption during peak periods.

Britain’s gas supplies are expected to be sufficient for the winter due in large part to its North Sea gas pipelines and imports from Norway.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, European Union member states relied on about 40% of their gas imports from Moscow.

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Despite taking steps to drastically cut imports from Russia by 90% by the end of the year, it remains unclear how much the EU continued to import from Moscow, especially amid ongoing supply disruptions.

Britain has relied far less on the Kremlin for its energy needs, importing just 3% of its gas from Russia.

Natural gas from the North Sea

A worker walks down the stairs in the face of a gas burn-off tube on the Armada gas condensate platform, operated by BG Group Plc, in the North Sea off the coast of Aberdeen, Britain, December 10, 2015. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

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About half of Britain’s gas imports come from the North Sea, a third from Norway and the rest from countries like Qatar and the US, according to British news outlets.

“We are cautiously confident that there will be sufficient margins during the winter period,” ESO Executive Director Fintan Slye said in a statement.

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Style said that while he is relatively confident that UK homes will remain heated throughout the winter months, it “is incumbent on us to also consider external factors and risks beyond our control, such as the unprecedented turmoil and volatility in energy markets in Europe and beyond. “

Style said UK officials will continue to work with European gas officials to ensure a stable supply in the coming months.

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