Widespread winter blackouts! – nine power stations are to close


WITH nine power stations closing, the GMB warned yesterday about government ‘complacency’ and potential ‘widespread power blackouts’.

The government’s secret plans, called ‘Operation Black Start’, to cope in the event of widespread power blackouts, will not be much help, said the GMB. GMB said it is very concerned that the UK Government and National Grid are too complacent over an ‘energy crunch’ if there is a very cold winter, when nine power stations generating 12% of UK peak demand are closed in 2016.

At the end of 2014, installed capacity (all electricity) was 80.6GW. This includes 10.2GW of wind capacity. National Grid states that 7.4GW of capacity at nine stations is likely to close by 2016.

Peak demand (the amount needed on a cold, dark winter’s day) is about 60GW. After the nine stations close this will leave 73.2GW of installed electricity capacity.

Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for energy said: ‘If peak demand were to coincide with a time the wind is not blowing the UK will have just 63GW of reliable, easily-dispatchable power. ‘No coal stations will be built because of environmental standards, the new nuclear programme is delayed and the government is failing to get more gas-fired power stations built.

‘The government has stated that interconnectors, renewables and demand-side response can deal with any shortfall. However the first two cannot be relied upon at a time of system stress and demand-side is unlikely to cover a major shortfall. Breakdown or outages at existing stations could lead to a major shortfall and widespread power blackouts. No government can rule out breakdown or outages at existing stations.

‘At a time when 7.4GW is likely to come off at nine stations, only one station is likely to be built in the coming year (Carrington, 900MW gas-fired station) that can provide solid, reliable power. The other major new build station – Trafford, c. 2GW – has stated there are major financing issues.

‘Government should direct National Grid to alter its approach to incentives in the capacity market to deliver enough reliable electricity supplies to avoid blackout.  This failure to maintain permanent generating capacity means that National Grid have to pay for extra inefficient short-term capacity and pays firms to shut down, at a cost of 50p-£1 per customer who is subsidising this chaotic so-called market.

‘Government and National Grid are far too complacent. The government’s secret plans called “Operation Black Start” to cope in the event of widespread power blackouts will not be much help.’