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A hurricane on the way, when the lights go outOctober 2014


Colin Pearson, Head of the Building Performance Investigation team, BSRIA
Written by Colin Pearson, 
Head of the Building Performance Investigation team, BSRIA

The UK power supply network is complex with a range of large and small power stations fed by different fuels at varying prices. Some are new and efficient, others old and inefficient. Some are clean and others produce sulphurous emissions. This makes the job of predicting the power network capacity very difficult, but Ofgem produces an annual update to its assessment of the most likely peak demand and the most likely available capacity. Ofgem’s Winter Outlook 2014-15 report was published today (28 October 2014). It says the likely margin of supply over demand is now just 4.1% or 2.3 GW. This is based on average winter conditions so an extreme cold spell could push the supply network to its limits and possibly lead to outages. Loss of a large power station such as Didcot B at a critical time could also lead to outages. Of course there are reserves, some old polluting power stations can be brought back into service and maintenance work can be postponed to increase supply for short periods. Ofgem has also secured an extra 1.1 GW of so-called Balancing Services, planned demand reduction and standby generation that brings the margin back to 6.1%. So the situation is more precarious than any winter since 2006 but Ofgem is still saying power outages are ‘unlikely’.

BSRIA published an article with advice to business electricity users last February which looks at reviewing the risks and control measures applicable to their facilities.

Read the full article here

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