EU energy crisis deepens, UK could face power cuts during winter

The news has already sent shivers among some Brits as the winter approaches.
Baba Tamim
Stock photo: A family sitting by the table, lit by candles, during the energy crisis.
Stock photo: A family sitting by the table, lit by candles, during the energy crisis.

Imgorthand/iStock 

U.K.'s National Grid has warned of possible power cuts in case Russian energy lines are entirely cut off.

Electricity may be turned off in the "unlikely event" of a supply shortage in order to "ensure the overall security and integrity of the electricity system across Great Britain," according to the National grid.

The news has already sent shivers among some Brits as the winter approaches.

"Are the power cuts really going to happen?" questioned 75-years-old Una Wilson of East London.

"Just in case they do. I popped to the local shops to stock up on candles, matches and torches and stuff like that," Wilson told Interesting Engineering (IE) on Sunday.

The worst-case scenario, as per The National Grid, would be power outages. This would involve a very cold spell along with fewer imports of electricity from Europe and inadequate gas to fuel power plants.

"It really is just one thing after the other. The other day I bought a few battery-operated lights that you can stick on the wall. Hopefully, I'll find some way of using the torch on my iPhone," Deneze Pinnock, a 55-years-old electrical engineer from London, told IE.

"But then how will that even work if my phone needs charging and there's no power?"

"My mother will be returning to the old times," reusing a fireplace, she added.

Around 40 percent of the U.K.'s electricity comes from gas power stations. However, unlike other European countries, it is not directly dependent on Russian energy sources but exports energy from countries in Europe that are.

There may be "shortages" if the energy crisis prevents Britain from importing electricity from France, the Netherlands, or Belgium.

Britain isn't the only country in Europe that is worried about harsh winters and the energy crisis.

French 'sobriety plan'

As part of an energy efficiency strategy to avoid blackouts this winter and prepare the nation for considerably long-term savings to deal with the climate emergency, the French government has unveiled "15 flagship" measures.

Living spaces are to be heated to a limit of 19°C. No hot water in public buildings; no lighted advertising overnight; a ban on doors left open in heated or air-conditioned stores are some examples of the energy-saving measures France is adopting, including lowering the temperature in gyms and swimming pools.

France's Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the energy transition minister, urged "general mobilization" of the entire nation to reduce energy use by 10 percent in two years from 2019 levels describing it as a "first step" towards achieving a 40 percent cut to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The 19°C indoor temperature requirement, which is the centerpiece of what is being referred to as the "sobriety plan," has really been a part of the energy code since 1978.

Meanwhile, Germany may have shocked other European countries.

Germany opposes E.U. price limits

E.U. diplomats accuse Germany of taking a stand-alone stance and express concern that Berlin's debt-financed spending binge would raise inflation, widen the gap between the rich and the poor in Europe, and unjustly favor German enterprises in a manner at odds with the single market's goals.

Germany has defended its policies as reasonable and proportionate while opposing calls for price limits or collective borrowing across the E.U., according to a report by the Washington Post.

German lawmakers have stated that France is the only nation at fault, as its failed nuclear power plants have increased strain on the European energy grid.

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