Two coal power plants will be paid a combined £77m to be on standby this winter as part of National Grid’s plan to minimise the risk of electricity blackouts. The size of the UK’s capacity margin – the buffer zone between available power supply and predicted peak demand – will be revealed on Friday when National Grid publishes its winter outlook. The margin is understood to be higher than the 5.5% predicted by National Grid earlier this year. That was itself an improvement on last year’s “tight but manageable” 5.1%. The improved position has been achieved partly by paying around £144m for tools that can be used in case of unexpected e vents, such as a shutdown at a major power plant. The largest of these tools is the supplemental balancing reserve (SBR), under which power plants are paid to be on standby for four months, ready to start up if needed. Of the eight firms to win SBR contracts, the largest is the Eggborough coal power plant in North Yorkshire, which has agreed to provide up to 681MW of power. Calculations by the climate campaign group Sandbag, and confirmed by separate industry sources, suggest Eggborough will be paid £60m to be on standby. The sum is the equivalent of more than 10% of the plant’s revenue during its last 18-month reporting period. A coal plant owned by the power firm SSE at Fiddler’s Ferry in Cheshire is understood to have been paid £17m for the same service, making 422MW available.
Guardian 12th Oct 2016 read more »