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National Grid Bonkers Policy on Avoiding Blackouts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

National Grid Using Consumer’s Money To Pay Firms To Stop Work In Order To Avoid Winter Blackouts Is Bonkers Says GMB

UK Government and National Grid are far too complacent about the risks of widespread power blackouts says GMB.

GMB, the union for energy workers, commented on the Winter Outlook report for 2015/16 published on 15th October 2015 by National Grid. See notes to editors for copy of National Grid press release.

Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary, said “GMB considers that the UK Government and National Grid are far too complacent about the risks of widespread power blackouts. See notes to editors for copy of press release dated 14th October on GMB position on nine power stations closing in 2016.

There can be eight to ten days per month when there is not a lot of output from the10.2 W of installed wind capacity.

We have the bonkers position where National Grid is using consumer’s money to pay firms to stop work in order to avoid winter blackouts.

That and bringing unused inefficient power production back into operation are the special measures National Grid,  as system controller,  is being forced to rely on to keep the lights on and the cost is added to consumers' bills.

National Grid and Ofgem should come clean about the true cost of this harum scarem energy balancing game. Government has got to urgently get a grip and ensure there is sufficient energy production to securely provide the nation’s energy needs.”


Contact: Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary on 07860 606137 or Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810  or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

1 Copy of National Grid News Release - Thursday 15th October.

National Grid publish Winter Outlook report for 2015/16
*         Diverse sources of gas available and demand looking similar to last winter
*         Electricity margins are manageable with a range of tools available to keep the system in balance

National Grid has today published the Winter Outlook 2015/16 report, looking ahead at the picture of supply and demand for both the gas and electricity systems for the coming winter. It follows consultation with the energy industry during the summer.

The report is published by National Grid in its role as electricity system operator and as owner and operator of the gas transmission infrastructure in GB.

The peak transmission system demand forecast, used for calculating the winter margin for the coming winter is 54.2 Gigawatts, a slight increase from last year.  There has been no change in the position for generation since the Winter Review was published in July.   The de-rated margin figure for winter 2015/16 is 5.1% which equates to a loss of load expectation of 1.1 hours - well within the Reliability Standard set by the Government.

Additional balancing services of 2.4 GW have been contracted for the winter period to be available to manage periods of peak demand.   This includes 133MW coming from businesses who have signed up for reducing demand at peak periods if called on, in return for payment.

Cordi O'Hara, Director of UK Market Operations said:

"Electricity margins are manageable throughout the winter period and we believe we have the right tools in place to manage the system.   This includes using the 2.4 GW of additional balancing services that we have ready in place for times of highest demand.

"On the gas side, supplies are expected to be comfortable this year, thanks to good availability of liquefied natural gas on the global market and stable flows from the North Sea and Norway."

Gas demand for the winter period is expected to be broadly in line with last year, showing a slight increase to 48.6 billion cubic meters (bcm).  Peak daily demand is forecast to be 465 million cubic metre (mcm).

The maximum potential delivery of gas supplies, including from storage is 613 mcm, which is significantly higher than the peak demand forecast.

- ENDS -

Contact information Gemma Stokes Corporate Media Relations Manger +44 (0) 7974 198333

2 copy of GMB press release dated 14th October 2015


The Government secret plans called “Operation Black Start” to cope in the event of widespread power blackouts will not be much help says GMB

GMB, the union for energy workers, is very concerned that the UK Government and National Grid are far too complacent over an energy crunch if there is a very cold winter when existing power stations are closed in 2016.

At the end of 2014 installed capacity (all electricity) was 80.6 GW. This includes 10.2GW of wind capacity.


National Grid states that 7.4GW of capacity is likely to close by 2016. The stations are listed below.


Capacity (MW)

Longannet - coal


Eggborough - coal


Ferrybridge - coal


Littlebrook - oil


Wylfa - nuclear


Ironbridge- gas /biomass


Deeside - gas


Barry - gas


Roosecote-  gas




Peak demand (the amount needed on a cold, dark winter’s day) is about 60GW. After the nine stations close this will leave 73.2GW of installed electricity capacity.

Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for energy said “If peak demand were to co-incide with a time the wind is not blowing the UK will have just 63GW of reliable, easily-dispatchable power.

No coal stations will be built because of environmental standards, the new nuclear programme is delayed and the Government is failing to get more gas-fired power stations built.

The Government has stated that interconnectors, renewables and demand-side response can deal with any shortfall. However the first two cannot be relied upon at a time of system stress and demand-side is unlikely to cover a major shortfall.

Breakdown or outages at existing stations could lead to a major shortfall and widespread power blackouts. No Government can rule out breakdown or outages at existing stations.

At a time when 7.4GW is likely to come off at nine stations only one station is likely to be built in the coming year (Carrington, 900MW gas-fired station) that can provide solid, reliable power. The other major new build station – Trafford, c. 2GW – has stated there are major financing issues.

Government should direct National Grid to alter its approach to incentives in the capacity market to deliver enough reliable electricity supplies to avoid blackout.

Government and National Grid are far too complacent. The Government secret plans called Operation Black Start”.” to cope in the event of widespread power blackouts will not be much help.”





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