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National Grid ESO issues warning for UK electricity supply

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National Grid ESO has issued an electricity margin notice, which warns that the UK’s electricity supply could drop below the threshold set out in Capacity Market Rules. 

The electricity margin notice has been issued for 5:30pm on September 15, 2020, however, despite issuing the electricity margin notice, National Grid ESO remains confident that supply will still more than meet demand. The problem is that the cushion is definitely tighter than they would otherwise like. 

National Grid ESO explained that the reason the cushion has tightened is due to a number of factors, including the weather, demand for electricity and the availability of generators. 

England entered a nationwide lockdown as of today, and while we saw a huge drop off in the demand for electricity in the first lockdown, that may not hold for the second. That’s because many offices and shops will remain open, albeit in a more limited capacity than they were in recent weeks. 

The cold weather will have also contributed to an increase in demand, as those with electric heating systems will have been switching them on in droves to keep themselves warm.

This isn’t the first time National Grid ESO has warned about problems with maintaining a buffer between supply and demand, however. In early October, the company noted that there were likely to be issues with supply when wind forecasts are lower. 

At the time the company also noted that there were both planned and unplanned outages at a number of generation sites, covering coal, gas, biomass and nuclear power plants. All those generators being offline meant the UK is even more reliant on renewables, which aren’t always reliable – leading to electricity margin notices like today’s.

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