National Grid fires up two coal power stations to provide electricity
National Grid fires up two coal power stations to provide electricity for first time this winter as -15C Arctic blast raises demand and leaves UK’s supplies unable to cope
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 brings a -15C freeze to Britain.
Tonight could be Britain’s coldest night of the year thus far with temperatures expected to fall to -10C in rural areas of the North, and as low as -3C or -4C in the South. Highland areas of Scotland could also fall as low as -15C.
National Grid earlier today announced four of five coal plants that had been kept on standby overnight would be warmed ‘for potential use’ today as a precaution.
But two coal powered stations at West Burton, Lincolnshire, started feeding into the grid this afternoon.
The units are understood to be powering the minimum amount of power needed to needed, but a National Grid spokesperson says the sites are ready to provide additional power if required.
Schoolchildren make the most of the snow getting some sledging in before school in Tynemouth on North Tyneside this morning
Two coal powered stations (pictured) at West Burton, Lincolnshire, started feeding into the grid this afternoon
The coal plants are covered by ‘winter contingency’ contracts negotiated with the Government following fears over a shortage of power supplies this winter.
National Grid earlier tweeted: ‘The ESO has issued an additional notification that we will warm four of our five winter contingency coal units for potential use on Tuesday 7 March.
‘This notification is not confirmation that the unit will be used on Tuesday, but that it will be available to the ESO, if required.
‘The ESO as a prudent system operator has developed these tools for additional contingency to operate the network as normal. This does not mean electricity supplies are at risk.’
It comes as the Met Office has warned that up to 15in of snow could hit the UK this week as blizzards are forecast in 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 southwards today, with regions south of the M4 said to be ‘most at risk of disruption’ this week. The majority of snow on Wednesday is expected to hit southern areas.
Heavy snowfall in Aberdeen today, where a number of schools have been forced to close due to the wintry conditions
People walk their dogs through the snow beside the beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland this morning
Met Office Chief Meteorologist Matthew Lehnert 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 a chance some rural communities in the north could be cut off.’
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