Experts have accused the UK defence secretary of scaremongering by claiming a Russian disruption of Britain’s electricity interconnectors to Europe would cause chaos and kill thousands of people. Gavin Williamson told the Daily Telegraph that Moscow was looking at energy cables and pipelines between the UK and the EU, and sabotage could come by a cyber-attack, missile or undersea activity. Experts said the lights were unlikely to go out if the electricity interconnectors, which supply about 5% of UK power, were somehow cut off. “It does sound a bit like scaremongering really. If you take out one interconnector it’s clear the UK can survive. We saw that last year with the one to France,” said Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the ECIU thinktank, referring to a major power cable to France running at half capacity after it was damaged by a storm. Even if all four power lines were disrupted simultaneously, it is unlikely supplies to homes would be affected. “There’s more than enough capacity in the UK,” he said. However, experts said the UK’s growing reliance on interconnectors for power could pose more of a problem in the future. Peter Atherton, an analyst at energy consultancy Cornwall Insight, said: “If you literally switched off all the power interconnectors with a bit of warning, the lights probably wouldn’t go off because there’s enough capacity in the system. “But once you get up to 7-8GW [of interconnector capacity in future, up from around 4GW now], there wouldn’t be enough spare capacity.” A wider attack on Britain’s energy system targeting power stations and grid infrastructure would be crippling.
Guardian 26th Jan 2018 read more »