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National Grid Is Keeping Coal Plants Warm For Backup Amid Cold Snap

For a third time this week, the UK power system operator, National Grid, has asked reserve coal-fired units to be warmed up for potential use to support the grid on Thursday as temperatures and wind power generation continue to be low in the current cold snap.

 “The ESO has issued a notification that we will warm winter contingency coal units for potential use on Thursday 26 January,” National Grid ESO said late on Wednesday.  

The notification doesn’t constitute a confirmation that these reserve coal units will be used on Thursday, but that they will be available to the ESO, if required, the system operator noted.

Per the latest available data from National Grid ESO, on Tuesday gas generated 52.4% of Britain’s electricity, followed by wind at 15.6% and nuclear at 13.0%. Coal generated 2.4% of the UK’s electricity. The share of wind power generation was lower than usual due to the cold weather in the country in the past few days.

Wind power output is set for low levels in the coming days before rebounding on Sunday, January 29, according to a Bloomberg model.

Earlier this week, National Grid extended its incentive program for energy saving to a second day on Tuesday amid low wind power generation in the cold snap.

The electricity system operator paid customers who used less energy between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening, extending the so-called Demand Flexibility Service, which incentivizes households and businesses with smart meters to consume less energy during peak demand hours.

For Monday, UK customers were paid if they use less energy at the peak hours in the evening if their provider had signed up to a new scheme for incentivizing energy saving. 

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Before this week, the Demand Flexibility Service had only run five planned demonstration test events, and it was the first time it was used live to encourage savings and avoid strain on the power grid.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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