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First Use of UK Blackout Prevention Scheme Cancelled Thanks to French Power Shortage

© AP Photo / Frank AugsteinAn electricity pylon in Lydd, southern England
An electricity pylon in Lydd, southern England - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.11.2022
Western sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine have seen gas prices soar to 10 time the level in late 2020, prompting a Europe-wide energy crisis that threatens to cripple industry and leave citizens shivering in the dark.
The UK electricity network will not roll out a new scheme to help avoid blackouts for the first time this week as the European energy crisis deepens.
The National Grid's Electricity System Operator (ESO) had said earlier it was planning to activate the Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), which has already undergone two initial test runs, on Tuesday evening.
But that was cancelled after energy generators in neighbouring France said they were struggling to meet domestic demand.
DFS offers households who have signed up for the programme a cash bonuses for reducing their usage at peak hours in the early evening — by not using high-wattage appliances like ovens, electric heaters, dishwashers and tumble dryers.
The scheme, designed to avoid overloads and unscheduled power cuts, was devised in the face of the Europe-wide energy crisis caused by sanctions and embargoes on imports of Russian gas, oil and coal — on which the UK has led the way.
The UK normally imports power from the French grid in times of excess demand. But more than half of France's nuclear power stations, which generate three quarters of the country's electricity, are currently shut down, reducing the baseload capacity.
Those shutdowns are also thanks to sanction on Russia that have blocked the import of specialist grades of steel needed for repairs.
Power lines and pylons are seen with the financial heart of London, Canary Wharf, in the distance on January 25, 2012.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.11.2022
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Energy billing company Octopus, one of several which offers feed-in tariff credits to households with solar panels installed when they generate surplus energy in the daytime, is the biggest such firm signed up for the DFS.
It says its customers helped reduce demand by more than 100 megawatts during the first two tests.
Almost half of the UK's electricity is generated by natural power stations running on natural gas, the market price of which has increased ten-fold in the past two years. Gas is also burnt to provide central heating and hot water in most British homes.
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