Millions of UK households could face blackouts this winter due to global shortages of natural gas caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the UK government has warned.
As many as six million British households could be subjected to blackouts, if Russia makes further efforts to cut off the EU’s gas supplies, according to a Whitehall document seen by The Times.
Imports of natural gas from Norway – from which Britain buys around half of its total supplies – could halve next winter, in the face of surging EU demand.
Shipments of liquified natural gas (LNG), from major gas producers such as the US and Qatar, could also halve this winter due to fierce global competition for supplies of the liquified fuel.
Energy crises in the Netherlands and Belgium could also see interconnectors from the two countries cut off this winter, as the two countries seek meet their own demand.
The government is now seeking to extend the lifespan of Britain’s three remaining coal-fired power plants, after the UK previously set out plans to close its coal-fired power plants by September 2024.
The lifespan of Somerset nuclear power plant Hinkley Point B could also be extended by 18 months, despite plans to decommission the 50-year-old power plant this summer.
Heavy industrial facilities could also be told to stop using gas, while UK gas-fired power plants could also be closed, to preserve limited supplies.
The power plant closures could result in shortages of electricity, which could see households subjected to blackouts at peak times on weekday mornings – from 7am to 10am – and evenings, from 4pm to 9pm.
In the event that Russia cuts supplies of natural gas to the EU entirely, blackouts could last for three months, starting in December, and occur on both weekdays and weekends, the report says.
The government is also in talks to reopen a gas storage facility, by offering more than £1bn in subsidies, after the facility was closed in 2017 due to being to costly to maintain.