‘Blackout Britain’ headlines now redundant – ex-NG chief

The former head of the National Grid, Steve Holliday says news reportage about the potential for blackouts in the UK should cease, as the country has ‘one of the most stable electricity networks in Europe.’

Mr Holliday told the BBC that scare news stories about the electricity sector should not be heeded, with the UK’s auction of capacity for power generation, a key factor in his confidence. On Tuesday the government will hold its latest subsidy auction, which is designed to ensure Britain has enough energy over the winter of 2017-18.
Steve Holliday
Power firms bid for subsidies to provide back-up power when needed and those stand-by plants are normally relied upon to run for a few days a year during extreme conditions.

"It's time for the headline of Blackout Britain to end - it's simply wrong,” Holliday told BBC News. “We've been talking about blackouts for 15 years every time it gets cold, but it's a scare story.”

"The lights haven't gone out yet and thanks to the measures the government is putting in place this week they definitely won't go out in future.”

This week’s bidding process, to be held over four days, is taking place because the National Grid has identified a need for extra capacity next winter. It is supplementary to the longer-term T-4 capacity market auctions, which are usually held at the end of each year and involve power generators bidding for contracts they will need to deliver in four years’ time, allowing investors to plan ahead and build new power plants.

The former National Grid chief also forecasts that all future talk of blackouts will be made redundant by a revolution in flexible electricity, with customers using power when it is cheapest.

Coal, gas and nuclear stations can bid for the availability payment, along with demand reduction suppliers and interconnectors. National Grid juggles what's needed and when.

The capacity auction is expected to cost £2-3bn a year.

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