National Grid is starting two coal-fired power plants to provide electricity for the first time this winter as -15C Arctic blast boosts demand and UK supplies fail to meet
The National Grid has ordered two of the UK’s four emergency coal-fired generators to produce electricity for the first time – as an Arctic blast of snow and ice freezes a -15C in Britain.
Tonight could be Britain’s coldest night of the year so far with temperatures expected to drop to -10C in rural areas in the north, and -3C or -4C in the south. Highland areas of Scotland can also drop to -15C.
National Grid announced earlier today that four of its five coal-fired power stations that had been on overnight standby would be warmed up today as a precaution “for possible use.”
But two coal-fired power stations in West Burton, Lincolnshire, started feeding the electricity grid this afternoon.
The units are believed to provide the minimum amount of power needed, but a National Grid spokesperson says the sites are ready to provide additional power if needed.
School children make the most of the snow and go sledding in before school this morning at Tynemouth on North Tyneside
Two coal-fired stations (pictured) in West Burton, Lincolnshire, began feeding into the grid this afternoon
The coal plants are under ‘winter contracts’ negotiated with the government after fears of power shortages this winter.
National Grid previously tweeted: ‘The ESO has issued an additional notice that we will be warming up four of our five winter coal plants for possible use on Tuesday 7 March.
“This notification is not confirmation that the unit will be commissioned on Tuesday, but that it will be available to ESO if required.
‘As a prudent system administrator, ESO has developed these tools for additional contingencies to keep the network operating normally. That does not mean that the electricity supply is at risk.’
It comes as the Met Office has warned that up to 15 inches of snow could fall in the UK this week as snowstorms are forecast across northern areas on Thursday and Friday, with fears of red and amber weather warnings in some areas.
The forecaster said ‘very cold Arctic air’ is moving south today, with regions south of the M4 at ‘highest risk of disruption’ this week. Most snow is expected to fall in the southern areas on Wednesday.
Heavy snowfall today in Aberdeen, where a number of schools have been forced to close due to winter conditions
People are walking their dogs in the snow next to the beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland this morning
Matthew Lehnert, chief meteorologist at the Met Office, said: ‘Snow, ice and low temperatures are the main themes of this week’s forecast, with the UK under an arctic maritime air mass.
“Snow could lead to some travel disruption, with the possibility of cutting off some rural communities in the north.”