Is the UK facing the increased risk of blackouts?

Currently the UK has around 80 GW of electricity generating capacity. This gives a ‘capacity margin’ (the difference between what is needed to meet peak demand and what is actually available) of about 14%.  This capacity margin is needed to ensure that in extreme situations – i.e. power station failures, sustained periods of high demand – the UK has sufficient reserve capacity to keep the lights on. Support from high powered ups systems would help combat constant loss of power.

According to Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, in their latest Energy Capacity Assessment Report (June 2013), the amount of predicted spare capacity in the electricity grid could fall to only 4% in the next three years – leaving the UK the risk of actually running out of electricity generating capacity during the winter of 2015-16.


Ofgem’s Ian Marlee: “There is an increased risk of electricity shortages”

But what is likely to actually happen should demand exceed supply?

The answer is simple, the electricity supplier will forcibly lower demand to prevent uncontrolled service disruptions, such as power outages (widespread blackouts), or network equipment damage.

In their attempt to reduce demand the electricity supplier will be presented with two options:

  1. Turn off the supply to certain areas or users resulting in black-outs.
  2. Turn down the supply voltage resulting in wide scale brownouts.

Of these two options blackouts are a real ‘political hot potato’ and are likely to be avoided –  if at all possible.

So the most likely outcome will be that the generating companies quietly turns down the volts hoping that no one really notices.

While, other than a slight dimming of the lights, homes may indeed not notice, but for many businesses and organization the effects will be far more apparent, seriously affecting systems and processes that are essential for their day to day efficient and profitable operation – especially if the brownouts become frequent and prolonged occurrences.

Like all potential problems, if you know a possible problem is round the corner, you can take steps now to minimize the effects.

At Ashley-Edison (UK), with our extensive range of AC Voltage Stabilizers and associated power conditioning solutions, we specialize in ensuring the availability of a stable, clean and optimized mains power supply – regardless of any brownouts that may be coming our way in the UK in the not too distant future!

To learn more about our voltage stabilisation and power conditioning solutions please check-out the listings on this web site.


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