National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) and National Grid Gas have both published their Winter outlook for 2022/23. Following unprecedented flux in the Global Energy Markets, largely stemming from the Geopolitical situation surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, sanctions, and gas supply drops. The reports prepared by both organisations outline possible scenarios for the Winter period.
Ofgem, the energy regulator in the UK, issued a warning that Britain could face a significant risk of gas shortages this Winter and ESO’s report forecasts “adequate” margins across Winter 22-23 for gas and power. However, winter has been fairly mild to this point, therefore the likelihood of supply issues is fairly low.
ESO modelled two additional scenarios looking at reduced electricity imports from Europe. In the first scenario, the risk of outages is low and mitigation measures will be effective in limiting the risk.
The second scenario covers the same assumptions as the first but includes additional electricity capacity being unavailable alongside insufficient gas supply. Although this scenario is unlikely, it could lead to a two-week period in January that could interrupt supply for some consumers. The Government has previously ruled out the idea of energy rationing, however, in the worst-case scenario, load shedding may need to be considered in extreme cases to prevent interruption to supply. This could mean that energy consumers are asked or incentivised to lower gas consumption or stop using gas for a temporary period. This would reduce the demand for electricity to the level of generation available to ensure the system’s overall security. The ESO sees this scenario as unlikely, and the extent of load shedding would depend on the level of gas-for-power demand.
So what happens if there isn’t enough power to cover demand?
There are two new commercial mechanisms available to National Grid to assist with covering supply:-
- The ‘ Supplemental Balancing Reserve’ is a scheme to allow generators to make more plant available to provide power at peak times between November and February, and
- The Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR), encourages large energy users to reduce consumption during peak hours.
In the unlikely event that the above arrangements don’t allow adequate cover for demand, it is possible the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills may authorize energy restrictions. In this case, the use of ‘Rota Load Disconnections’ under the Electricity Supply Emergency Code may come into effect. In order to reduce the demand for electricity to the level of generation, strategic energy switch-offs may be used. In order to achieve the required reduction, all users of electricity are divided into groups called ‘blocks’, a customer’s Block is determined by their postcode and position on the local network. These Blocks are then switched off in turn on a Rota, for a period of 3 hours. If the electricity shortfall increases, more blocks would be switched off, leading to greater disruption to more customers. Once introduced, Rota Load Disconnections would continue for the full duration of the electricity generation shortfall.
At the lowest level of emergency, you could expect to be without electricity for just three slots in a week. However, if there is a severe shortage of electricity, you may be without supply for several slots in a week. The Energy Emergencies Executive website is currently being upgraded to provide this information along with the development of a smartphone and tablet app. You will receive 48hrs notice of Rota Load disconnection being introduced.
There are government guidelines which allow very few essential organisations to remain on supply during Rota Load Disconnection (these companies MUST however reduce their electricity consumption). These organisations fall into 3 categories, V – Vital (e.g. Hospitals, Airports, Railtracks, Water Treatment sites), F – Food processes, and O – Continuous processes (e.g. Steelworks, Glass producers).
How will you know when you will be without electricity?
In event of Rota Disconnection becoming necessary a range of communications methods will be available. There are two pieces of information that you need to be aware of; firstly your Rota Load Disconnection Block letter and secondly the slots which show when you will be affected.
Your Rota Load Disconnection Block letter is static and will not change during an emergency. It is based on where you are based and how your electricity is supplied. You can find out your Rota Load Disconnection Block letter on your electricity bill under the address, or by visiting the Energy Emergencies Executive website energyemergenices.gov.uk or by ringing 08000 12 12 33. You will just need your Post Code. Alternatively, you can text your Post Code to 86633.
Although the risks of blackouts and power shortages are being reviewed and addressed by the ESO and government plans, it is always a good idea to have a plan in place in case your business does suffer power outages. Reducing consumption where possible in the coming weeks and months will not only assist with relieving some of the grid’s demand but will also help reduce costs and feed into your sustainability targets. If you would like to speak to a member of the Carbonxgen Team to discuss this further, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the team on 01252 878722.