Thursday, 15 March 2018

Is the National Grid running out of juice?

With the recent hit of the 'Beast from the East', and the small bursts of cold weather since, questions have been raised as to whether or not the National Grid is prepared. As temperatures drop the instinct is to crank up the heating to keep warm, but can our supplies keep up?

The question pops up every year, if not mulitple times a year, but this year the Grid was hit with infrastructure problems around the same time as the cold snap which put extra pressure on an already stretched system.

Our largest gas storage system in the UK, Rough, requires maintenance. Gas prices aren't as high as they once were, which means that the repairs were looking costly and the decision has been made to close it down. It was due to supply the last bulk of gas to the UK during the 'Beat from the East' but the cold temperatures actually caused a fault in the system.

Shortly thereafter, South Hook also suffered problems. South Hook is the UK's largest LNG (liquified natural gas) plant. This, in addition to three power stations being out for most of the day, caused the UK to go back to coal powered energy for the most part of the 24 hour problems.

Energy experts have been monitoring this situation for a long time, which is why we didn't suffer any shortage of power through the bitterly cold weather. We have an agreement in place that allows us to import energy when we need it and peaks costs over short periods of time when extra supply is really needed.

We also saw a lot of the extra energy being picked up by wind turbines over the snowy weekend, with nuclear power being the fourth in line to provide the power.

The best way to ensure that your house is kept warm during future cold spells is to take the time and make sure that it is adequately insulated. An advantage of this then means that you don't need to put the heating on as high, you'll get warmth that lasts longer by using less power. It will be an investment at first, but you'll find the savings appear in the long term.