National Grid puts coal plants on standby due to cold snap

National Grid asked coal-fired power stations to ensure that they are ready to supply power Monday. Temperatures are expected to hover at zero and winds forecasts are low.

It sent a notice to Drax and EDF to heat three coal units, in order to increase electricity production.

“This measure should give confidence to the public in Monday’s energy supply. The operator stated that the notification does not confirm that the units will be used on Monday but that they will still be available to ESO, if necessary, in a Sunday morning statement.

This contingency measure is being taken as the Met issues a weather warning regarding freezing fog Monday. It urges drivers to be careful on roads with limited visibility and icy roads.

Experts in energy say that low wind and cold weather – also known as “Dunkelflaute”, which means a dark lull in German, are especially challenging for energy production as there is very little or no wind power.

In mid-December, the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator made a similar call to coal units amid grey, cold and still weather. They were eventually stopped by it shortly thereafter.

The closing of coal plants was scheduled for September. However, they have been left open longer in order to provide backup power in case of an emergency. This is due to the soaring prices for gas in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The UK will likely phase out coal by next year.

These are part of a larger set of contingency plans that were put in place to keep the lights on during winter and also include a scheme that pays households to use less electricity.

The fear of winter blackouts is now mostly over, as gas prices have fallen significantly since August’s peak.

Europe has been experiencing mild winters and storage levels have held up well despite consumers and businesses cutting down on their usage.

Bloomberg reports that UK futures are still more than twice their normal levels despite the decrease in price pressure.

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