Winter energy capacity plans brought forward to 2017/18


Measures to pay energy companies to ensure there is enough power in the system to meet peak demand will be brought in a year earlier, the Government has said.

The "capacity market", in which generators bid for contracts to guarantee there are enough power plants on stand-by to meet UK's electricity needs through the winter, will now come in for 2017/18, instead of 2018/19 as planned.

Reforms to the system announced by the Government also involve plans to buy more electricity capacity and to buy it earlier to encourage investment in new gas-fired power stations to secure power supplies.

The reforms include tougher action on companies which back out of their contracts, by closing power plants for which they have won payments for keeping online to meet peak demand.

The closure of ageing coal-fired power plants and a lack of investment in new schemes such as gas-fired power stations means the margin between the UK's peak demand for electricity and the amount of generation on the system has tightened, raising fears of blackouts.