“Squeaky bum time” – Is the UK electricity market facing a deficit?
The phrase “squeaky bum time” entered the football lexicon immediately when it was coined by Sir Alex Ferguson during the run-in to the 2002/03 premier league season. It described the sound made by the manager and his bench as they watched matches unfold, at times sitting nervously in the dugout seats, when Manchester United was facing an 8 point deficit in the league.
For the first time, the long-term forecast for the UK electricity market is facing a deficit, and it is looking like next winter will be the most challenging that National Grid has faced for decades.
The figures published by National Grid show that generation, excluding reserves and interconnector flows, will be insufficient to meet demand forecasts for much of December and January.
Parallels can be made between the two situations, with demand forecasts equivalent to the number points you would expect to need to win the league. If demand falls in the way that Arsenal fell away that season, then the target will be easier to meet.
Interconnectors and wind are like fixtures against teams lower in the table – you expect to get something out of them, but it isn’t guaranteed.
Manchester United had the players including their most expensive signing Rio Ferdinand, but also needed a little luck to overcome their deficit. National Grid has added the most expensive SBR capacity payments, and the new Transitional Arrangements to their squad, but may also need a little luck this winter.
People often forget that Sir Alex concluded the interview saying that his team had the experience to cope with the pressure, and Manchester United ultimately overcame their deficit to win the title.
Right now, it’s squeaky bum time for the electricity market, and we wait to see how Duncan Burt and his team at the National Grid operations room cope next winter.