80 per cent chance of winter blackouts, warns EMA head
Widespread blackouts are almost inevitable next winter, a leading figure in the energy industry has warned.
Lord Redesdale, the chief executive of the Energy Managers Association (EMA), estimated there was an 80 per cent chance of energy blackouts this coming winter due to failures in the system.
He added that the systemic weaknesses behind the blackouts risked destabilising Britain’s energy security and could even deter international investors, meaning many millions of pounds could be lost to the industry.
One of Britain’s leading energy industry analysts, Jon Ferris, Utilitywise’s strategy director, agreed the risk is severe, commenting:
“We are facing the gravest risk of a blackout that I’ve seen in 10 years and this is shown by information published by National Grid itself. There will be a negative national surplus of over 1GW next December, assuming that we get 3.3GW of wind generation.
“In any typical winter month there is a 50% chance of a high-pressure system over Europe, this means that it is cold in France so they don’t export their energy due to domestic demand and not windy so Germany’s wind turbines don’t produce much.”
Lord Redesdale was speaking at a roundtable debate hosted by Utilitywise, a leading independent utility consultancy based in Tyneside with 30,000 clients.
Established as a start-up business in 2006, and listed in 2012, Utilitywise now has an annual turnover of almost £70 million.
The EMA has over 500 members, individual energy managers from across industry who oversee approximately £6 billion worth of the UK’s energy spend.
Speaking at the event, Lord Redesdale said: “The market has changed over the last 10 years however the government has repeatedly missed opportunities to deal with the backdrop of falling demand, [a] changing energy mix and environmental concerns. We are now approaching the crunch period in winter 2016-17 and something has got to give.
“It doesn’t help that government policies are looking as little as one year ahead, however next year there’s going to be a real problem. Further, there is a lack of people who understand how to buy energy in business – with far too few energy managers, many of whom were made redundant in short-term cost-saving cuts.”
Lord Redesdale concluded by stating: “If you have a blackout it’s going to make the country seem less secure. It might also make a real difference about whether people look to invest their money here. Ultimately in my view there is an 80% chance of a blackout next winter.”
Ferris replied “Our assessment is nearer 5%, but that is still too high for National Grid to be comfortable.”
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Notes to editors
Utilitywise is a leading independent utility cost management consultancy based in North Tyneside. Established as a start-up business in 2006, and listed in 2012, it now has an annual turnover of almost £70 million.
The Group has established trading relationships with a number of major UK energy suppliers and provides services to its customers designed to assist them in achieving better value out of their energy contracts, reduced energy consumption and lower carbon footprint.
Businesses large and small rely on Utilitywise for their energy management needs. It works with clients ranging from South Tyneside Bowls and Social Club and the University of Bradford to FTSE100 BAE Systems and AstraZeneca.
In total, Utilitywise has over 27,000 customers. Utilitywise is a UK company quoted on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.
For more information, please visit: www.utilitywise.com