Last week, the UK hit its highest temperature on record: 40 degrees Celsius, or more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. On July 20, as the record-breaking “Red Extreme” heat wave continued, Bloomberg opinion piece reports Officials made the decision to pay a record price of £9,724.54 (about $11,685) per megawatt to supply the residents of south London with electricity – about 5,000 percent higher than the usual average price of £178 per megawatt hour.
To avoid an energy shortage in 2021, the UK paid about £1,600 (more than $1,900) per megawatt to import energy.
Yesterday #gas produced 43.0% of UK electricity, more than wind 23.5%, nuclear 15.1%, biomass 7.2%, solar 6.0%, import 3.8%, coal 0.8%, hydropower 0.7%, other 0.0% *excl. non-renewable distributed generation pic.twitter.com/cRzVsCUKfP
— National Network ESO (@NationalGridESO) July 21, 2022
But this time, BBC reported, the combination of the heat wave, a storm in Belgium affecting solar production, and overhead maintenance all played a role, forcing National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) to make a higher-than-usual purchase to avoid power outages. to prevent. A spokesperson for the National Network ESO said it took a specific circuit to get the energy to the right place.
The power purchased at that rate was only enough to power about eight households for a year. Bloomberg says, keeping the system stable over the course of an hour and buying additional power at lower rates.
The Bloomberg op-ed argues that power from elsewhere in the country or even to offshore wind farms in Scotland should have been a solution. But if there was no investment in grid upgrades and resistance to installing more overhead equipment, the system may have become vulnerable. The concern is that next time, even high prices may not be enough, and as an inevitable side effect of a warming planet, residents could face power outages in the future.