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Winter 16/17: Will The Lights Stay On?

National Grid today published its winter consultation, summarising its predictions for gas and electricity supply and demand for the winter ahead.

Whilst gas supply margins are predicted to be sufficient for winter 2016/17, electricity supply margins are tighter. Peak demand is predicted to be 52.7 GW, with a generation capacity of 54.7 GW and 1.8GW interconnector capacity. National Grid predict a de-rated capacity margin of 5.5% – similar to that predicted in winter 2015/16.

One of the reasons that the margin is tight but not unmanageable is the additional 3.5GW contingency balancing reserve procured by National Grid, including capacity offered by businesses through demand response schemes. Without this spare capacity, margins would be perilously tight at 0.1%, with a loss of load expectation of 13.7 hours/year, compared to the 0.9 hours/year expected for this winter.

This outlook makes it clear that businesses are now playing a critical role in keeping the system balanced during these interim years. It’s also a sobering realisation of the importance of securing investment in new energy infrastructure over the coming years to prevent the margin between supply and demand from tightening even further.

In response to the consultation, Inenco issued the following statement:-

Matt Osborne, Principal Risk Manager at energy consultancy Inenco Group, said:

“National Grid has taken the necessary steps to make sure the lights stay on over the coming winter, but it would only take an unexpected shutdown of a power station or a prolonged cold spell to push the system to its limit. Industrial and commercial businesses are now playing a critical role in keeping our energy system balanced and those organisations participating in demand response schemes should expect to be called on to turn down consumption over the winter months. However, inevitably, procuring spare capacity as part of Grid’s contingency plans will be yet another cost likely to be passed on to businesses and consumers at a time when other energy costs are also rising.

“This is even more evidence that government has got to address the need for long term policy and certainty to bring forward much-needed investment in new generation and infrastructure. Without new investment, we could face the very real threat of insufficient power supply to match demand in the next few years.”

National Grid has invited responses to its consultation from interested parties, particularly those businesses who participated in demand side response schemes last year. An online survey has been set up by Grid, open until August 5:

If your business is interested in intelligent demand management, get in touch with Inenco to see how we can help. Call us on 08451 46 36 26 or email