The risk of power shortages this winter has been underestimated by ministers and the National Grid, with factory shutdowns and “politically unacceptable” price spikes more likely than had been feared, energy giant SSE has warned.
National Grid last month said that in a cold winter the UK’s electricity “margin” – the safety buffer between peak demand and supply – would fall to just 5pc, the lowest since 2007, as old power stations are switched off.
But Keith MacLean, SSE’s director of policy and research, warned: “We think that could easily flip to minus 5pc.”
“We are heading for a critical period. We worry that [the Department of Energy and Climate Change] and National Grid have been over-optimistic,” he said.
National Grid’s estimates of peak demand were too low, at 2GW below levels seen in December 2012, he said.