The cold snap in March could lead to Britain’s gas supplies running out next month, forcing the nation to pay higher prices for fuel from elsewhere. Forecasts suggest that gas supplies in the UK could theoretically be exhausted by 8 April, requiring Britain to turn to imports from Norway and Russia.
The warning came on the day Scottish and Southern Energy, one of the UK’s biggest power suppliers, warned that there could be electricity blackouts in the country within three years.
A lack of gas storage facilities, and rapid depletion at the UK’s North Sea gas fields, has led to the UK having as little as two days’ supply of the fuel in reserve. Demand spiked during the coldest March in 50 years.
Though experts have warned of the problem for years, and the government has championed a “dash for gas” that would see a massive rise in demand for the fuel, little has been done to increase storage facilities.
Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said there was a “very real risk of the lights going out” within the next three years. SSE intends shutting down power plants, enough to have supplied 2m homes, as the stations are either uneconomic or coming to the end of their lives.