Electricity margins 'manageable' says National Grid amid blackout fears


National Grid has moved to counter fears of blackouts this winter by insisting that electricity margins are "manageable".

In its winter outlook, the energy company confirmed predictions earlier in the year which showed the gap between total electricity generating capacity and peak demand would fall to just 1.2% without measures in place to secure supplies.

The measures National Grid has put in to balance the system, such as paying moth-balled power plants to be ready to come online and paying factories to be prepared to power down if needed, increase the capacity margin to 5.1%.

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 gigawatt 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."

National Grid said gas demand for this winter was expected to be broadly in line with last year, showing a slight increase to 48.6 billion cubic metres, with peak daily demand forecast to be 465 million cubic metres.

The maximum potential delivery of gas supplies, including from storage, is 613 million cubic metres - significantly higher than expected peak demand, National Grid said.

For electricity, demand is expected to peak in mid-December, while the weeks commencing October 26 and January 11 are predicted to have the lowest power surplus due to planned outages, the winter outlook said.

But the report said there was expected to be "sufficient" generation and imports of electricity through connections to other countries to meet even the tightest weeks over the winter.