UK Power Grid on Verge of Collapse Due to Windless Weather, Fire Incident, Spiking Gas Prices

© AP Photo / Paul Thomas A general view of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in Seascale, northern England, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009.
 A general view of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in Seascale, northern England, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.09.2021
The UK is not alone in experiencing troubles in the energy sphere, with Europe facing an increase in energy bills due to rising gas prices. The latter were caused by the fact that gas reservoirs in the EU remain underfilled due to falling supplies from Norway and Russia, and Asian nations buying up most of the available LNG shipments.
The British power grid is facing one of its toughest challenges this winter due to losing a number of sources of energy generation and having very limited backup to make up for them. According to the UK's National Grid Plc, the country's power grid's ability to meet peak demands this winter will be the hardest in years.
This situation is a direct result of several misfortunes that have hit the national energy market recently. First, wind power generation on the northern has coast dropped due to windless weather. Now, one of the two main sources of imported energy from France, the 2,000-megawatt IFA-1 cable laid across the English Channel, has been damaged in a fire that hit a power converter station on the UK side.
A wind turbine - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2021
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The National Grid says half of the IFA-1's capacity will be restored by 25 September. The other half, roughly equal to the output of an average nuclear power plant, will only be back up in March, leaving the country without 1,000 megawatts through the winter. Should it be harsh this year, then the grid risks failing to cope with the demand.

Are There No Backup Options for the UK?

The UK's backup options are also limited when it comes to substituting the lost power. The country only has two remaining coal plats functioning and their output is limited to around five gigawatts due to the policy of decarbonisation. There are also seven nuclear power plants remaining after the Electricite de France SA shut down the Dungeness Nuclear Power Plant in the UK this June, several years ahead of schedule. However, out of the 13 reactors, only eight are working and five more are currently offline. They will be back online only by the end of September or the beginning of October.
The British power grid is currently making up for losses via its extensive natural gas energy generation, but the prices for the low-carbon emission fuel are currently setting records across Europe, and the UK is no exception. The continent's gas reservoirs are only filled to around 70% of their capacity as opposed to 93% last year amid declining supplies from Norway and Russia, thus driving domestic prices up. There are hopes that Nord Stream 2 might fix the situation, but it is currently awaiting certification and its launch date remains unclear.
Energy company RWE power's new gas-fired Pembroke Power Station, the largest of its type in Europe, is seen during its completion ceremony in Pembroke, Wales September 19, 2012.  REUTERS/Rebecca Naden/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.09.2021
Why are Gas Prices Breaking Records in Europe and Why Can't Countries Stop Their Growth?
Against the backdrop of the news of a fire at a UK power converter, gas and future winter power prices went sharply up in the country amid expectations of low supply and high demand. However, the gas price went back down after 20% growth on 15 September amid news that half of the IFA-1 power will be back by the end of the month. The market for power prices for the winter season closed at the $246-per-megawatt-hour mark yesterday after hitting $275 per megawatt-hour during the day.
Energy prices are also soaring in Europe, prompting several countries, namely Greece, France, and Italy to mull taking measures to limit it. Spain passed a bill that sets a 4.4% ceiling on power price indexation in the third quarter and limits energy suppliers' earnings.
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