Monday November 24th 2014
The UK’s heavy manufacturers have warned that they may be forced to shut down frequently this winter to avoid high power costs because of emergency measures to cut demand.
The National Grid recently launched its ‘Demand Side Balancing Reserve’ (DSBR) scheme – paying participating companies to reduce their demand during peak winter weekday evenings – in order to combat the risk of blackouts. The National Grid is also keeping three power stations on standby to supply more power if required.
However, if these emergency measures are used, the DSBR could add further complexity to an existing system using “triads” – three half-hour periods during which demand is at its highest across the UK. This system determines how the largest electricity customers are charged for using the transmission network. Businesses are charged significantly more during these 30-minute windows to penalise consumption at peak times.
Recently, triads have become more difficult to predict because of milder weather and more companies trying to avoid them.
Senior energy and environmental policy adviser at the EEF, Richard Warren, agrees the initiative could result in more production reduction and shutdowns. He says:
“Last winter’s mild weather had a noticeable impact on triad predictability, and likewise we can expect increased demand reduction activity to contribute to uncertainty,”
Nevertheless, a spokesman for National Grid denied that the DSBR would make triads less visible and said that the UK grid operator was unlikely to call on the scheme frequently.