“Significant risk” of gas shortage this winter

There is a ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages so severe that they will drive gas-fired power stations across Britain out of service this winter, the energy market regulator has warned: the latest such warning regarding major shortages across Europe in recent days.

England, Scotland and Wales face a ‘significant risk’ of a natural gas shortage leading to a ‘gas supply emergency’ this winter, a letter released by the production regulator Ofgem energy and reported by The temperature revealed.

Responding to a power station owner fearing he could face stiff fines for not producing electricity – as they are contracted in advance to do – if the gas supply runs out, Ofgem refers to the National Grid Procedures Emergency Document for Grid Gas Supply for Standard Procedures, but also adds its own thoughts. “Due to the war in Ukraine and gas shortages in Europe, there is a significant risk that gas shortages will occur during the winter of 2022/23 in Britain,” the body wrote, while specifying that a decision will be made on finer points of treatment. shortages by November 18.

The case is not the least – as the letter notes, if power producers are left unable to obtain gas for long periods of time when contracted to generate electricity and are fined, this risks “the potential insolvency of gas-fired power plants”. generators” – in other words, power plants go bankrupt. The BBC quotes the owner of the SSE power station saying through a spokesperson: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the station would be heavily penalized for failing to meet its production obligations.”

But the letter also highlighted other issues to consider in the event of a “gas emergency”. In particular, the letter refers to plans for “Phase 2” of the emergency document, which spells out what will happen if a power shortage actually occurs. Beyond changes in administrative and commercial roles, the National Grid document describes a public awareness campaign to rapidly reduce gas consumption, using “radio or television…relevant social media…Posters and leaflets drop “, and starting with” A call to “use as little gas as possible”.

If this did not achieve the desired results, the National Grid would then ask the public to ‘stop using gas altogether’ – a tall order in winter when most UK households are heated with natural gas. Perhaps reflecting the government’s experience in managing public buy-in to lockdown demands in the age of coronavirus, the newly revised document however notes: “It is expected that the effect of public appeals would diminish with time and that they should be repeated and reinforced. at frequent intervals and possibly it is possible that the reduction in demand for remedies is insufficient”.

But while that was happening, something else quite more critical was going on: load shedding. This cuts the largest users of gas off the grid, and as Ofgem notes, these would be “probably large gas-fired power stations which produce electricity for the national electricity transmission system”. Britain gets almost half of its electricity from burning gas, depending on the time of year, hence concerns over blackouts.

The admission that a ‘gas supply emergency’ is a ‘significant risk’ this winter comes just weeks after the national grid told consumers there would be no outages this winter.

It’s not as if the UK is the only country facing such shortages this winter, and indeed Britain is among the least dependent nations in Europe on imported Russian gas, however, the effects of This shortage drive in countries like Germany coupled with decades of mismanagement of energy policy by the British government has left the country feeling as vulnerable as any other.

Berlin police have even gone so far as to draw up contingency plans to deal with unrest if the power grid collapses during the winter, leaving people cold, an image that has been reflected across Europe those last weeks.


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