National Grid fires up coal plant to meet air conditioning demand due to UK heatwave


The UK heatwave has prompted National Grid to fire up a coal-fired power plant in the east Midlands to cope with extra electricity demand for air conditioning. The plant, owned by Uniper, was asked to warm up on Monday morning and could start generating electricity later in the day.

The heatwave has seen temperatures reach record highs in some parts of the UK, with London experiencing its hottest day on record on Monday, with temperatures reaching 37.8 degrees Celsius. This has led to a surge in demand for air conditioning, which is putting a strain on the country’s electricity grid.

National Grid has said that the coal plant will only be used as a last resort and is working to ensure enough electricity to meet demand. However, the move has been criticized by environmental groups, who say it is a sign that the UK is not doing enough to transition to a green energy future.

The UK government targets phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2024, but some concerns may need to be addressed due to the current energy crisis. The crisis has been caused by several factors, including the war in Ukraine, which has disrupted gas supplies, and the rising cost of renewable energy.

The heatwave is expected to continue for the rest of the week, and National Grid has warned that there could be further problems with electricity supply. The government has urged people to use less energy, particularly at peak times, to help to reduce demand.

Here are some tips for using less energy during the heatwave:

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  •  Close curtains and blinds during the day to keep the sun out.
  •  Use fans instead of air conditioning, or set the air conditioner to a higher temperature.
  •  Take shorter showers.
  •  Wash clothes in cold water.
  •  Unplug appliances when you’re not using them.

By following these tips, you can help to reduce your energy consumption and help to ensure that there is enough electricity to meet demand during the heatwave.

Temperatures broke 30C for the first time this year over the weekend, and meteorologists forecasted the chance of Britain experiencing a hot summer was 45% – 2.3 times the typical figure.

The hot weather is expected to push up demand for power as households and businesses switch on air conditioning units. Air conditioning accounts for about a fifth of the electricity used in buildings worldwide.

The UK government has also announced several measures to help people cope with the heatwave, including:

  • Complimentary water bottles for schools and hospitals.
  •  Extra funding for social care providers to help them keep their residents cool.
  •  We are conducting a public information campaign to educate people about the risks associated with heatstroke.

The heatwave is a reminder of the UK’s challenges as it adapts to climate change. The government and the public must work together to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and find ways to use energy more efficiently.

The consultancy LCP Delta said wind generation was low on Monday and planned maintenance at the Torness nuclear power station on the east coast of Scotland, which began on Sunday night, had reduced available generation by a further 1.3 gigawatts.

Last week, a fault was found on the 1,400-megawatt North Sea Link interconnector that carries power between Norway and the UK, cutting electricity supplies. The energy flowing through the 450-mile subsea cable has been reduced by half while the fault, discovered at an onshore facility in Norway, is repaired.

Here are some additional details about the situation:

  • The UK has been experiencing a heatwave since the beginning of the week. Temperatures in some areas of the country have reached as high as 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit).
  •  The heatwave has increased electricity demand as people turn on their air conditioning units to cool down.
  •  National Grid has said it is confident it has enough electricity to meet demand, but it has taken the precaution of firing up a coal plant as a backup measure.
  •  The decision to fire up the coal plant has been criticized by environmental groups, who say it is a setback for the UK’s efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
  •  The heatwave is expected to continue for the next few days, and National Grid may need to fire up more coal plants to meet demand.

The life of Ratcliffe’s fourth unit was extended for two years beyond its planned closure date last year, with all teams now due to shut by September 2024 as Britain phases out burning coal for power generation.

The ESO also called on households to save power by shifting their usage away from peak hours through its demand flexibility service. The network operator said last month that families and businesses kept enough control over the winter to power 10m homes.

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Marta Lopez

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