National Grid’s standby power plants are just “prudent”

The UK’s grid operator downplayed fears of blackouts today, describing its decision to bring forward plans to have power stations on emergency standby as “prudent”. A string of nasty surprises […]

Register now!

By Vicky Ellis

The UK’s grid operator downplayed fears of blackouts today, describing its decision to bring forward plans to have power stations on emergency standby as “prudent”.

A string of nasty surprises at power stations over the summer – from fires to cracks in boilers – put several plants the grid was relying on out of business for the winter.

The “generation picture started to deteriorate in summer”, explained Cordi O’ Hara, National Grid’s Market Operation Director. 

She was speaking as National Grid released its Winter Outlook report this morning, revealing there is a margin of 4.1% between the amount of power generation we can call on and the maximum electricity needs of the country.

However this gap rises to 6.1% taking into account the three emergency power plants – under the Supplemental Balancing Reserve (SBR) – and the 431 sites around the UK which can be asked to slash their energy use if needed.

Ms O’Hara told an audience at Imeche’s offices on London: “SBR is a prudent measure to cover generational uncertainty.”