‘Severe’ snowy, cold weather to hit Britain, test country's electricity supply

Published on Dec 07, 2022 03:53 PM IST

Britain: The Met Office issued yellow severe weather warnings for ice and snow for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the east coast of the UK.

Britain Power Cuts: A woman with an umbrella and the Elizabeth Tower also known as Big Ben are reflected in a puddle in London.(AP)
Britain Power Cuts: A woman with an umbrella and the Elizabeth Tower also known as Big Ben are reflected in a puddle in London.(AP)
Bloomberg |

Freezing temperatures along with a blanket of snow is poised to hit the UK for the next few days, boosting energy demand just as output from the nation’s fleet of wind parks is slumping.

The Met Office issued yellow severe weather warnings for ice and snow for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the east coast of the UK for Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures will drop as low as -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) by the end of the week, the forecaster said.

The frigid weather will severely test Britain’s power and gas infrastructure as the nation enters the coldest months with the smallest margin of back-up electricity supplies in seven years. The rest of northwest Europe is in a tight spot too, with prolonged nuclear outages in France and Sweden curbing stable output at a time when it is most needed.

“As the cold air pushes across the UK from the north temperatures will dip, with daytime temperatures struggling to get above freezing in many places from mid-week onwards,” said Rebekah Sherwin, the Met Office’s deputy chief meteorologist.

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Output from the nation’s wind turbines will gradually drop to just above 500 megawatts on Saturday, according to a Bloomberg Model. That compares with more than 7,000 megawatts on Wednesday morning. The fleet has become a vital source of electricity for the nation as old plants burning fossil fuel are decommissioned.

Widespread colder-than-normal temperatures are also forecast from the far north of Scandinavia and into continental Europe, Maxar Technologies Inc. said in a report. Temperatures in Norway, where houses still mainly use electricity for heating, are poised to drop to -20 Celsius next week, Maxar said.

The severe cold spell is a sharp reversal from the milder-than-normal autumn, which allowed utilities to refill gas stores, with European levels currently 91% full and Germany 96% full.

Southern Europe will escape the cold weather, at least for now. Temperatures in Madrid are even expected to reach 5.8 Celsius above normal on Tuesday next week.

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