Ireland has been forced to freeze power exports to the UK to prevent a shortage which could have sparked blackouts as surging energy prices continue to cause chaos across Europe. A toxic combination of low wind speeds and a severe squeeze on the supply of natural gas sent power costs jumping tenfold on the British mainland on Thursday to as much as £2,300 per megawatt-hour, a new record high. It came as transmission was halted on the Moyle interconnector, which sends electricity from Northern Ireland to Scotland. Mutual Energy, which owns and operates the undersea cable, said that flows had been stopped for “operational security reasons due to generation shortfall in the all-Ireland single electricity market”. Ireland’s Single Electricity Market Operator had issued an amber warning on Thursday morning, alerting the public to a “general shortfall” of electricity which could result in power cuts.
Telegraph 9th Sept 2021 read more »
Across Britain, consumers and businesses are feeling the pinch from rising energy prices. Soaring wholesale gas and electricity costs over the past six months have already left millions of households facing the biggest rises in their energy bills in a decade and piled pressure on heavy industry. There could be worse to come. This week UK wholesale gas and electricity prices hit all-time highs — and it is not even winter. “It’s very unusual for this time of year,” Murray Douglas, head of European gas research at Wood Mackenzie, the consultancy, said. “This is the sort of thing we start to see when we get cold snaps. The worrying thing is that this is happening now, in September. We’re approaching a winter with not too much margin for error.” On Monday one of Britain’s last remaining coal plants, due to close for good next year, was fired up for the first time in six months when wind farm output was low. Critics have seized on fears of a winter energy crunch to question both Britain’s reliance on imported gas and the security of its electricity supplies as it builds more wind farms to tackle climate change. Experts say the causes of the latest gas and power price rises are manifold and not confined to Britain. There are similar scenes across Europe, with record prices provoking protests in Spain, and natural gas prices are surging globally amid a fundamental mismatch between supply and demand. High gas prices have been a key driver of power costs because Britain generates the biggest share of its electricity from gas-fired power stations. Phil Hewitt, director of EnAppSys, said it was “a perfect storm of events”. Coal prices also have risen and carbon prices have surged, further pushing up the costs of burning both gas and coal. Guy Newey, strategy director of the Energy System Catapult, said that the experience of recent days was a “postcard from the future energy system”, in which more wind and solar would “create spikier wholesale prices, sometimes negative, sometimes high . . . There is no fundamental reason why a grid with a higher proportion of wind and solar cannot be just as reliable as our current energy system, but future electricity markets need to properly reward clean technologies that provide back-up capacity, energy efficiency and flexibility, including the storage provided by electric vehicles.”
Times 9th Sept 2021 read more »