UK blackouts: Dealing with threat of energy cuts this winter Britain is drilling for extra oil

ByLouise McGinnis

Oct 8, 2022

CNN Enterprise

The UK authorities may award oil and fuel corporations greater than 100 new licenses to drill within the North Sea, because it appears to be like for methods to bolster vitality safety amid a worldwide provide crunch.

Launched Friday, the licensing spherical gained’t result in new UK manufacturing for a number of years. And when drilling does start, Britain will nonetheless be depending on vitality imports, in line with the federal government, leaving it weak to hovering costs and provide disruptions of the sort that threaten blackouts this winter.

UK utilities firm Nationwide Grid

warned Thursday that households and companies could possibly be left with out energy for as much as three hours at a time in a worst-case situation of very chilly climate, low ranges of wind, fuel shortages and an incapacity to import electrical energy from Europe. It stated it will take steps to mitigate the chance, together with bringing outdated coal-fired energy stations again on-line if needed.

Beginning November 1, Nationwide Grid may even supply monetary incentives to prospects to scale back energy consumption at peak occasions.

Kathryn Porter, an vitality guide at Watt-Logic, informed CNN Enterprise that Nationwide Grid was nonetheless underestimating the dangers to provide, however that blackouts for households had been unlikely as a result of it may disconnect giant vitality customers at peak occasions if needed.

The most recent licensing spherical gained’t enhance the speedy provide image and will face a authorized problem from environmental activists. Greenpeace stated that new oil and fuel licenses had been “doubtlessly illegal” and that it will be searching for methods to behave.

“New oil and fuel licenses gained’t decrease vitality payments for struggling households this winter or any winter quickly nor present vitality safety within the medium time period,” Philip Evans, vitality transition campaigner for Greenpeace UK, stated in an announcement.

“New licenses — and extra importantly extra fossil fuels — resolve neither of these issues however will make the local weather disaster even worse,” he added.

Evaluation by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the regulator that grants licenses, exhibits the typical time between discovery of oil and fuel deposits and first manufacturing is shut to 5 years, although that lag is “falling.”

In an announcement on Friday, the NSTA stated it is going to prioritize areas within the southern North Sea that may be developed shortly and the place fuel has already been found. Corporations have till January 12 to use for licenses, with permits anticipated to be issued as quickly because the second quarter of 2023.

The NSTA stated the licensing spherical has been topic to a “local weather compatibility examine” to make sure it aligns with the UK authorities’s dedication to achieve web zero carbon emissions by 2050. It added that producing fuel domestically has a a lot decrease carbon footprint than importing it from overseas.

The Worldwide Vitality Company stated final yr that funding in new fossil gasoline provide tasks, together with drilling for oil and fuel, should cease instantly if the world is to restrict international warming to 1.5 levels Celsius above preindustrial ranges.

The UK authorities set out plans earlier this yr to generate 95% of Britain’s electrical energy from low carbon sources by 2030. The plan, which permits drilling for oil and fuel, may even ramp up nuclear energy and wind vitality.