London only just avoided power outages after heatwave

Britain narrowly avoided a power blackout in London during the heatwave last week, paying the highest price on record to keep electricity flowing.

The National Grid was forced to pay £9,724.54 per megawatt hour to Belgium, more than 5000% higher than the usual price, to prevent south-east London from losing power.

The hottest days ever recorded in Britain led to a surge in energy demand and a series of constraints on the power system, as first reported by Bloomberg.

Temperatures reached above 40°C in some areas last Tuesday, while the London Fire Brigade reported its busiest day since World War II, as wildfires spread across the outskirts of London.

Several houses were destroyed in the fires and the strain on emergency services meant just three fire engines were left at one stage.

black electric tower under blue sky and white clouds during daytime

Increased demand across Europe and a bottleneck in the grid meant the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) had to buy electricity from Belgium at the highest price its ever paid to avoid a blackout.

Planned maintenance outages of overhead lines and a storm in Belgium affecting solar power also put a strain on power systems.

The amount of energy bought was a small amount, reportedly enough to supply eight houses for a year, but it’s exposed the UK’s reliance on importing energy from overseas.

National Grid ESO said: ‘We were bidding in a tight market and market prices were high that day because Europe also wanted the energy.

‘We managed the system and kept the electricity flowing to the South East.’

The government’s Energy Security Bill, currently making its way through parliament, aims to improve energy independence and scale up investment in UK-based renewable energy.

With British citizens already experiencing highly expensive energy bills its possible this most recent transaction will add even more financial pressure, as energy suppliers pass on the costs.

Photo by Yuan Yang


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top