In a report released on Thursday, the National Grid ESO said it was "prudent to maintain" the demand flexibility service (DFS), a newly formed service since 2022 during an apparent gas supply problem in Europe, which some suggest was caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine.
The report says that the grid would have an average margin— which is the difference between the energy demands and the supply of electricity— of 4.8 gigawatts (GW) this coming winter.
Despite the current trend of green energy to combat so-called climate change, the National Grid is looking at reviving two coal-fired power stations in Drax, North Yorkshire.
Four of the six plants at Drax were converted from coal to biomass in recent years, and the final two still running on coal were kept available at the request of National Grid between October and March.
However, Drax began the process to decommission the remaining two coal-fired plants in April but the ESO said that talks to keep them available for the winter were “ongoing”. Questions are asked whether the nation is ready for a complete green revolution if retired coal-fired plants are being needed to come out of retirement to keep up with energy demands.
Across Europe there are fears that Russia, a major gas supplier to Europe, could suddenly cease, leaving nations short of energy. This, combined with a prolonged winter, could cause rolling blackouts in the UK and across mainland Europe.
Energy prices are another major factor. The saying, “heat or eat” has been heard across the land, as record inflation alongside rising energy costs are seeing vulnerable people having to make the difficult choice between heating their homes and feeding themselves and their families.
This means there is a strong possibility that household bills, despite the energy price cap, will once again rise. The cap is enforced again from July following the end of the government's energy price guarantee that limited the wholesale prices for customers. The cap, just over £2,000 for the average bill, is under the £2,500 estimate.
Despite the fears of customers and the well-known saying, “heat or eat,” the National Grid has reported major profits for energy suppliers. As a result of the rise in prices for customers, the networks said it had seen a 15% rise in profits of £4.6 billion.