Fears of blackouts are overblown, report claims

A reserve power scheme that was introduced to prevent blackouts during winter cost more than £180m over three years and has never been used, according to analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

The supplementary balancing reserve (SBR) was introduced by the Energy Act 2013. It involved paying power plants to be on standby during the winter in case there was a shortfall in energy to meet demand from UK homes and businesses. The scheme was introduced in 2014 and was stopped at the end of February 2017 without being used, the ECIU said in a report.

Even during the winter of 2016/17, where there was a prolonged period of cold weather, low wind and  reduced availability of imported energy from France, the system was not called into play, the ECIU said.

According to its analysis, the closest the National Grid came to employing contingency measures came on 31 October 2016, when the gap between supply and demand fell below 400MW. This aligned with the switch from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time, and coincided with a number of ...

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