(Bloomberg) — The UK grid is set to use new emergency measures for the first time on Monday as a plunge in wind power and freezing temperatures across the country test its ability to keep the lights on.
National Grid Plc said it expects to use three coal plants kept in reserve as a cold snap hits the nation and wind generation plunges. Prices for the evening are the highest since Dec. 21 and some customers were asked to conserve power.
The drastic measures are a stark reminder that Europe’s power crunch is far from over and highlights the danger of the UK’s steadily shrinking generation buffer. It also makes the nation more reliant on imports from France, which is struggling with its own nuclear crisis and can’t export as much as it used to.
“Our forecasts show electricity supply margins are expected to be tighter than normal on Monday evening, a spokesperson from the ESO said. “These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need.”
UK wind output is poised to plunge below 2,000 megawatts this evening, according to a Bloomberg model.
Maxar Technologies forecast that temperatures in London will be as low as minus 2 degrees Celsius (28 Fahrenheit) on Monday, and the sub-zero temperatures are causing demand to spike.
Also a first, households are being asked to cut back demand from 5 p.m. by as much as 336 megawatts.
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The government has started an energy efficiency campaign, encouraging people to use less energy to cut costs and conserve electricity and fuel. The request to reduce consumption only applies to customers who have agreed to take part in a program run by their supplier.
Consumption is expected to peak on Monday evening at 44.7 gigawatts up from 42.2 gigawatts on Sunday, grid data show.