National Grid has published its winter outlook for the period October 2017 to March 2018. This annual report gives an update on security of, in particular, electricity supply and forecast peak demand.
During the summer months various reports had margins (the difference between available generation and peak demand) which were forecast to be 5.5%, the tightest since 2008. Since then, changes to interconnector flows and additional capacity from Eggborough Power Station, previously due for part closure, has boosted supply for Winter 16/17. National Grid now anticipates an improved margin of 6.6%. This means supply capacity is expected to be 55GW with peak demand forecast to be 52.7GW.
National Grid has spent £122million on contingency plans to boost margins this winter: 3.5GW of contingency reserve, primarily from fossil fuel plants paid to be on standby under the Capacity Mechanism arrangements. Despite National Grid cancelling its Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR), businesses will provide around 0.8GW of demand side response through reducing usage and/or utilising on-site generation during peak periods.
Despite concerns about storage levels at Rough, the UK’s largest single gas storage facility which now seems likely to close, gas supplies are also expected to be comfortable. This is supported by lower demand in the British Isles as a whole as Ireland becomes more self-sufficient due to increased production in the Corrib gas field levels, as well as there being relatively healthy reserves of gas in mainland European storage facilities.
What does it mean for TEC Members?
Despite the almost constant chatter of possible outages due to shortage of generation, comfortable margins should mean security of supply is not a concern to TEC members once again this winter. Members shouldn’t need to keep an eye on generation margins during winter, although demand levels will still need to be closely monitored in the event of a cold snap.
The Triad season (November – February) will shortly be upon us and the three half hourly periods where demand is highest could have a big impact on next year’s energy bills.
The week commencing 12th December 2017 is when National Grid forecasts the highest level of system demand, and generation margins are expected to be tightest during the week commencing 9th January 2018.
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