The UK national power operator has warned that citizens should brace for up to three-hour power blackouts this winter in the “unlikely” event that gas supplies fall short.
The National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) announced Thursday that it has taken steps to establish precautionary measures to ensure gas supplies from October 31 to March 31, 2023.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means that overall, this is likely to be a challenging winter for energy supply throughout Europe,” the national operator said in a statement that highlighted multiple scenarios where Brits could find their power shut off during peak use.
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“There may be days when it was cold (therefore likely high demand), with low levels of wind (reduced available generation), where there is the potential to need to interrupt supply to some customers for limited periods of time,” the ESO said , adding that any blackouts would be “managed and controlled.”
“However, our expectation is that our mitigation measures will be effective,” it added.
Officials said the public can also help by not excessively using the heat and limiting power use during peak hours.
Britain’s gas stockpiles through winter are expected to be sufficient in large part due to its North Sea gas supply lines and imports from Norway.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Union member nations relied on roughly 40% of their gas imports from Moscow.
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Though they have made moves to drastically cut imports from Russia by 90% by the end of the year, it remains unclear how much the EU has continued to import from Moscow, particularly amid continued supply disruptions.
The UK has relied significantly less on the Kremlin for its energy needs and imports just 3% of its gas from Russia.
Roughly half of the UK’s gas imports comes from the North Sea, a third comes from Norway and the rest is sourced from nations like Qatar and the US, according to British news outlets.
“We are cautiously confident that there will be adequate margins through the winter period,” executive director of the ESO, Fintan Slye, said in a statement.
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Style said that while he is relatively confident British homes will remain heated throughout the winter months, it is still “incumbent on us to also factor in external factors and risks beyond our control like the unprecedented turmoil and volatility in energy markets in Europe and beyond. “
Style said UK officials will continue to work with European gas officials to ensure stable supplies in the months ahead.