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GB faces power supply crunch as cold snap hits continent

(Montel) Britain faces a possible supply crunch on Wednesday, as plunging temperatures across northwest Europe inhibit interconnector imports from the continent and as National Grid calls on consumers to cut demand.

“Increased demand due to cold weather has coincided with outages at several gas-fired and nuclear power plants, alongside lower than usual wind at around 10% of capacity,” said Phil Hewitt, director at Montel EnAppSys.

“Typically, when GB is tight, like this, it usually gets more from the continent,” he said, adding however that Britain was receiving less supply from its neighbours, as their systems were tight also due to cold weather.

For example, temperatures in France were forecast at more than 1C below seasonal norms on Wednesday and nearly 3C below on Thursday, according to Montel's Energy Quantified (EQ).

TSOs scheduled just over a sixth – or 1 GW – of total interconnector import capacity (6.4 GW), for Wednesday, data published by Montel’s EnAppSys showed.

“I expect that there will be some buying by National Grid ESO on the interconnectors tomorrow for the evening peak intraday,” Hewitt said.

The UK has power interconnectors with Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Norway.

“As the cold builds, things may get more difficult as France moves to become a net importer, pushing prices higher across the board,” he added.

National Grid ESO meanwhile requested a maximum demand reduction of 550 MW between 17:00-18:30 GMT tomorrow, via a Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) alert published this afternoon.

The DFS allows the system operator to access additional flexibility when the national demand is at its highest and allows consumers to be incentivised for voluntarily flexing the time during which they use their electricity.