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How Close are we to an Energy Blackout? - 17th October

Blackout over city

In the 1970s, rolling power cuts caused by coal strikes led to the three-day working week and the eventual collapse of government.

Not only must the UK’s energy suppliers avoid the country ending up as dependent as the European mainland on Russian gas, they must also navigate the challenges of climate change, consumer dissatisfaction at rising bills, and changing government policies on nuclear and other sources.

The biggest challenge to the UK’s energy supply margin isn’t years ahead, the data suggests, but very soon indeed – by the winter of 2015-16. The trouble for those managing our power is a combination of factors hit all at once: old generators are being switched off for the last time, gas plants – those best able to plug shortfalls – are being mothballed for the medium to long-term due to the abundance of cheap coal, and the plans for next-generation power production haven’t yet kicked in.

The net result is that the UK’s supply margin, according to forecasts by Ofgem, is predicted to fall from a tight 6% at the peak of winter demand in 2014-15 to a possible low of less than 2% just a year later.

For more information on this story, and for discussions on fixing the problem, please click HERE.

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