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National Grid forced to put coal plants on standby as bitter -4C cold snap sweeps Britain

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The National Grid has told coal-fired power stations to be ready to supply power on Monday as parts of Britain face temperatures as low as -4C. It asked Drax and EDF to “warm” three coal units so it can protect the country’s electricity supply. This is the second time the energy body has given such a directive this winter, although the first instruction was abandoned shortly after it was made.

Tomorrow, many areas across the country will see temperatures drop to near freezing while others will plunge to sub zero. London is expected to see lows of -4C in the morning, according to weather.com while other areas such as Manchester hover between 2C and 6C.

The cold temperatures are expected to be met with fog as well as low winds, which is set to affect electricity supply. The Met Office warned on its website: “Areas of freezing fog are expected to develop on Sunday night, these dense at times and slow to clear from some spots on Monday.”

The National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) said this morning: “Our forecasts show electricity supply margins are expected to be tighter than normal on Monday evening,”

“We have instructed coal-fired power units to be available to increase electricity supplies should it be needed tomorrow evening.

“This does not mean electricity supplies are at risk and people should not be worried. These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need.”

The electricity body also explained the instruction to be “ready” does not confirm the coal units will be used.

Instead, the measure is to merely make the units “available if required”, it added.

It also said it would activate its live Demand Flexibility Service from 5pm to 6pm on Monday.

The Demand Flexibility Service financially incentivises people to slash their electricity use at peak times when energy supplies are low.

“We have taken extensive measures to try to mitigate the impacts for British consumers and expect that, under our base case, margins will be adequate.

Today, as temperatures dropped slightly and winds stayed light, Britain generated just 6.89 gigawatts from wind, roughly 17.6 percent of the total energy generated in the UK.

On January 10, wind farms hit a record of 21.6 gigawatts of output.



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