UK considers how to address possible winter energy shortages

Households with smart meters could be paid for turning off high-energy appliances such as washing machines during peak times to reduce the risk of blackouts this winter.

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has been looking to announce plans to reward consumers for easing the strain on the power grid.

Rebates for minimising the use of goods such as tumble dryers, dishwashers and games consoles during the peak hours of 5pm-8pm could be as high as £6 per kWh saved.

The Sunday Times, which first reported the plans, said the grid operator will apply to the regulator, Ofgem, for approval, with hopes the scheme will open by late October.

The news comes as other media outlets report that UK power stations have been ‘war-gaming’ contingency plans for the coming winter. Options being looked at include asking gas-fired power stations to load-shed — shut down or curb their operations to reduce gas consumption.

A BEIS spokesperson has highlighted that, unlike some other European countries, the UK is not dependent on Russian gas supplies. However, with some power coming from Norway and France there are still risks. Norway has already considered rationing, while in France maintenance needs are limiting capacity generation from nuclear plants.

Surges in gas prices have led to a number of options being considered right across Europe. These include rationing during the winter months, as well as the possibility of re-opening some coal-fired generating capacity.