Ministers under fire for ‘last minute’ attempt to bolster Britain’s winter energy supplies

British ministers have been attacked for taking a “last minute” approach to boosting local energy supplies this winter and avoiding the possibility of power outages if Russia cuts off gas to Europe.

The push came after EDF Energy was forced to release a memorandum last week to explain the time it was “runs out” Delay the closure of one of the six remaining nuclear power plants in the UK in late July.

Robert Gross, a professor of energy policy at Imperial College London, said there was a sense of “business as usual” on the part of the government even though the UK relies on fossil fuels for 40% of its electricity production, mainly gas.

Gross was among a group of academics who in December called on ministers to revisit Britain Access to energy securityAnd warned he had been “complacent about the gas supply for too long”.

Extending the life of the Hinkley Point B plant in Somerset was one of the options the ministers explored as part of an emergency plan for a potential energy shortage later this year. Whitehall’s worst-case scenario would cause 6 million homes to face a partial power outage if Moscow stopped sending gas to Western Europe and Norway, the UK’s largest gas supplier, would have to divert some of its output to other allies.

Other options include keeping three open coal-fired power plants – all but one of which were due to fall by the end of September as part of the UK’s plan to reduce carbon emissions – and belatedly trying to undo the closure of some British plants. Recent gas storage facilities.

Many involved in the energy economy reacted with panic that it took ministers so long to start preparing emergency plans for the winter given that Obviously Until last September, Russian President Vladimir Putin was taking advantage of his country’s control of gas supplies to Western Europe.

Sue Parnes, senior deputy general secretary at the Prospect union, agreed. “All this should not come as a surprise. Even before the war in Ukraine there were warnings about [gas] Constraints throughout last winter, “she said.

The union urged the government in April to look into extending the life of Hinkley Point B and other aging nuclear plants. “You can not have’s energy policy,” she added.

The stringent safety regime and complexity of testing aging reactors means that any attempt to extend their life requires long delivery times. The UK is facing a rapid decline in nuclear production capacity, which accounts for about 16% of total capacity. All but one of the nuclear power plants are due to retire by the end of the decade and the only new plant under construction – Hinkley Point C – has been hit by many delays.

Extending the life of a coal plant should be simpler, but EDF also had to warn British business secretary Quasi Quartang last week that it needed an “urgent” decision to extend the life of its West Burton A coal plant in Nottinghamshire. Be available this coming winter.

Column chart of by origin, ter-watt hours showing natural gas imports in the UK

EDF said West Burton requires vital maintenance and will need to secure new supplies of coal, which it used to obtain from Russia.

Officials note that the government is also in talks with the energy group Centrica about the potential to reopen the UK’s largest gas storage site in Rough within months. Rough actually closed in 2017 after Centrica thought so “Do not be economical” In time to renovate the aging facility.

But analysts said the government should also seek to revive other gas storage with mothballs, such as the smaller Hall House facility in Cheshire, to ensure the country has enough to settle on during the cold winter months. This storage facility is disabled by EDF but in a way that “keeps options open,” the company said.

Britain's dwindling nuclear capacity

The government went up in flames Earlier this year for failing to address short-term issues of high energy prices and a potential winter supply cliff when it released its supply security strategy.

Gross argued that the government’s short-term planning should include a gas “solidarity plan” with the EU – which Make plans Gas ration – in the event of a total shutdown by Russia and a public information campaign to encourage people to save energy.

Analysts have expressed concern that the government is underestimating the country’s reliance on Russian gas, which it says accounts for less than 4% of supplies.

Official figures show that about 8 percent of all gas imports in 2021 came from underwater pipelines, or connectors, from the European Union. But because the bloc relies on Russia for 40% of its supply, there could be effects on how much gas can be pumped into the UK.

West Burton's Coal Power Station

EDF said West Burton’s coal-fired power plant needs vital maintenance © Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy

During severe winters Britain’s dependence on gas in the pipeline increased. The storm called Beast from the East in 2018 means the UK has received “something like 20 or 25 per cent” of its gas through the authors, according to Niall Trimble, CEO of The Energy Contract Company, a consulting firm.

“That’s where the risk lies,” he added. “[If the EU] “They decide they can not supply us because they lack fuel themselves and then we go to the back of the line.”

In previous winters, the national grid stressed that the state could produce gas from many sources. This includes liquefied natural gas shipped to UK terminals from countries including Qatar. But Trimble warned that because of the nature of the LNG markets: “We may get a higher quote [LNG cargoes] By . . . the far East.”

Labor shadow shadow minister Ed Miliband said “the government’s short-sightedness was astounding”.

In a statement, the government insisted that any extension of the life of nuclear plants is “a matter for the independent operator and regulator based on safety considerations”. Privately, officials have sought to reduce warnings of rolling out power outages in the UK this winter, arguing that they will only occur in the worst-case scenario.

Ministers under fire for ‘last minute’ attempt to bolster Britain’s winter energy supplies Source link Ministers under fire for ‘last minute’ attempt to bolster Britain’s winter energy supplies

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