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National Grid takes steps to protect UK power supplies during 2014 – 2019 supply dip

In its 2013 Electricity Capacity Assessment Report Ofgem identified significant risks to the UK power network during the winters of 2014-2015 through to 2018-2019. To address these risks, caused by a reduction in UK power generation capacity, National Grid has announced that it is to contract for new balancing services.

National Grid will run a tender in June 2014 for up to 330MW Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR) to pilot the new service for winter 2014/15; and tenders by Autumn 2014 and in early 2015 for a total of up to 1,800MW of both DSBR and Supplemental Balancing Reserve (SBR) for winter 2015/16.

These tools will help ensure that the UK continues to benefit from the levels of power system security that it is used to.

When operational the Demand Side Balancing Reserve service will sign up large energy users who have the flexibility to reduce their electricity use - for example by switching to back-up generation - when demand is at its highest between 1600hrs and 2000hrs on winter weekdays. This will be in return for a payment, and on a purely voluntary basis.

Supplemental Balancing Reserve (SBR) is targeted at contracting for reserves from generating plant that would otherwise be closed or mothballed. Plant would need to be available on winter weekdays between 0600hrs and 2000hrs.

National Grid’s decision follows extensive consultation with the energy industry and the energy regulator, and a call for expressions of interest from potential providers earlier this year.

The maximum volume needed for the coming winters are:

  • 2014/15: 330MW (DSBR)
  • 2015/16: 1,800MW (DSBR and SBR)
  • 2016/17: 1,300MW
  • 2017/18: 800MW.

Calculations for these procurement volumes are based on analysis of winter demand, plant availability and continental imports using a methodology approved by Ofgem. Tenders for the winters of 2016/17 and 2017/18 will only be undertaken if an on-going need is for these services is identified and the funding arrangements are extended beyond 2016 by Ofgem.

It is not anticipated that these services will be required in 2018/19 because the Government is introducing a Capacity Market. This will ensure sufficient capacity is available to meet future demand.

Peter Bingham, leading this initiative on behalf of National Grid, said: “It’s our job as electricity system operator to make sure we’ve got all the right tools at our disposal to balance supply and demand on the electricity network, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“For winter 2014/15 we are inviting providers of demand side response services to offer a small volume of demand reduction capability to pilot the new DSBR service.

“For winter 2015/16, we will tender for both services. This offers generators an incentive to make their power stations available in winter where they might otherwise be unavailable.”

Dermot Nolan, Ofgem Chief Executive, said: “Ofgem has taken decisive action by giving National Grid additional tools to manage lower electricity margins from this winter, when Britain will have less generation available. We welcome their announcement on tenders for using these tools.

“An early indication of our analysis shows that the risks to security of electricity supplies for next winter are going to be very similar to last winter. And while no electricity system anywhere in the world can give a 100 percent guarantee we are confident that National Grid has the right levers to keep the lights on this winter. However, there can never be any room for complacency: National Grid and the industry must be vigilant at all times.”


•Date: 11th June 2014 • UK •Type: Article • Topic: Critical infrastructure protection

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