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National Grid to confirm increased blackout risk

It is expected that National Grid will state that Britain will face the highest risk of blackouts in almost a decade this winter, The Telegraph has reported.

Amid warnings that households will have to pay billions of pounds in subsidies to new gas power stations to prevent the crisis worsening, National Grid is likely to confirm estimates that Britain’s capacity margin – the “safety buffer” between peak electricity demand and available power supplies – will fall to about 1.2% this winter, the lowest in the past 10 years.

It has already prepared emergency measures to help keep the lights on, including paying factories to switch off between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays to reduce demand and paying old power plants to stay open.

These measures have artificially bolstered the margin to about 5.1% – still the lowest level since winter 2007/08.

Analysis by energy regulator Ofgem suggests that without the emergency interventions, a blackout during a cold snap would be highly likely.

Although both bodies insist their emergency plans mean the lights will stay on, the publication of the latest forecasts is expected to reignite debate about how to solve the UK’s looming power crunch.

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