- Sputnik International, 1920
Energy Crisis in Europe
Europe is bracing for tough winter as US-led push to “punish” Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine backfired on the EU, which has faced months of skyrocketing energy prices and rising inflation after Brussels joined Washington in attempting to “phase out” Russian oil, coal and gas.

UK 'War Games' Emergency Plans to Tackle Blackouts Amid Energy Crunch

© AFP 2023 / JUSTIN TALLISPower lines and pylons are seen with the financial heart of London, Canary Wharf, in the distance on January 25, 2012.
Power lines and pylons are seen with the financial heart of London, Canary Wharf, in the distance on January 25, 2012.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.11.2022
Britain, along with the rest of Europe, is facing a massive energy crisis. Consequently, its National Grid has been preparing for various scenarios which might occur this winter, including a worsening of gas supplies which would pose a headache for the generation of electricity, over 40 percent of which comes from gas-fired power stations.
Britain’s government has reportedly been testing emergency plans to tackle possible week-long power cuts. As the energy crisis continues to prompt fears of supply shortages throughout the winter, ministers have reportedly drawn up documents, which state that in a “reasonable worst-case scenario” all sectors such as transport, food and water supply, communications and energy could be “severely disrupted” for up to a week.
According to the “official sensitive” plans cited by British media outlets, should there be lengthy blackouts, Britain’s ministers will prioritize delivering food and water and providing shelter to the young and the elderly, as well as those with caring responsibilities.
In line with the confidential plan, code-named ‘Programme Yarrow’, a series of exercises have purportedly been carried out recently involving government departments and councils across the country.
“The government doesn’t want any publicity on Yarrow, as they don’t want it to be seen as linked to Ukraine, energy supply and the cost of living. But we need to think about how we can help people in advance. The fact they’re talking about it now means they have a real concern it could happen," a source was cited as saying.
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The cross-government contingency plan is said to have been originally drawn up in 2021 to deal with the eventuality of a major technical fault on the National Grid triggered by thunderstorms, a lightning strike or flood damage. Now, against the backdrop of the energy crisis fueled in part by backfiring sanctions set in place by western countries to “punish” Russia for its ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, the emergency plans are said to have been overhauled. It is understood that the recently “stress-tested” plans include a scenario of an attack by a hostile foreign power on underwater power cables, echoing the recent attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
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A series of explosions rocked the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines carrying Russian gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea on 26 September. After a comprehensive investigation, the Russian military concluded that Britain’s Royal Navy was behind the sabotage, which stripped Europe of access to up to 110Bln cubic meters of natural gas. Now, the UK's Met Office is compounding matters by warning that winter this year will be colder than usual.
Although the initial emergency plan was built to cope with three-hour rolling power cuts, now Yarrow ostensibly envisages that only 60 percent of demand for electricity will be met "between day 2 and day 7", with households and businesses given "intermittent access" to energy.
The contingency program’s “rota disconnection plan”, outlined in leaked Whitehall documents, would distribute power evenly across the country, with power cuts initially only taking place once a day for three hours, the frequency of cuts hinging on the severity of the technical issues triggering the outage. Households and businesses would allegedly be given 24 hours' notice of planned cuts. In line with an agreement between energy regulator Ofgem and the National Grid, all electricity demand should be restored after a week even in the case of a worst-case scenario.
"We need to think about how we can help people in advance. The fact they're talking about it now means they have a real concern it could happen," an insider was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, in response to the leaked documents, a Whitehall spokesman said that like any "responsible government", they were planning ahead for "all potential scenarios" and trying to "prepare and exercise robust contingency plans."
Earlier, John Pettigrew, head of UK electricity operator National Grid, warned that households would experience serious financial hardship this winter as their energy bills will be double what they were in 2021, despite the recently introduced annual price cap of 2,500 pounds ($2,879). In September, then-UK Prime Minister Liz Truss announced a freeze on household energy bills at £2,500 per year from 1 October. Though it was initially expected to apply for the next two years, new Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said in October that the program would run only until April 2023.
Western countries and their allies have been facing a massive energy crisis and struggling to fill their gas reserves for months now after slapping sanctions on Russia over its special military operation in Ukraine. The sanctions caused significant disruption in supply chains and prompted food and energy prices to soar worldwide. The UK had readily echoed the need for sanctions against Russia knowing full well that it would affect gas supply and have a knock-on effect for all of Europe.
Britain relies heavily on gas to produce electricity, with gas-fired power stations generating around 43 percent of the country's electricity, and imports coming in from European countries such as France, Belgium or the Netherlands. Now, with the energy crisis exacerbated by the actions of the so-called collective West, the National Grid has conceded that developments have created "unprecedented turmoil and volatility" in the energy markets. Furthermore, in the UK, the rising cost of living has hit millions of households.
"Even with the price cap... inevitably there are going to be people who are going to struggle," National Grid's Pettigrew admitted.
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