A fire in a cable connecting the British and French power systems has skyrocketed already overheated UK electricity tariffs on Wednesday.
National Grid, the UK electricity company, said the fire had occurred at a facility in Sellindge, near the English Channel, and the cable would be out of service for about a month.
The cause of the The fire was reportedly under investigation.
The Kent Fire and Rescue Service said on Wednesday morning it was fighting the blaze with up to 12 fire trucks and was making "progress" even if the firefighters had to stay on the scene for hours.
News of the outage has shook the markets. A measure of wholesale electricity, bri pricestannins of day-ahead electricity, reached 481.88 pounds per megawatt hour, according to Epex Spot, a trading platform. This level is several times higher than normal, although prices have skyrocketed in recent days.
Another strand of the cable, called an interconnector, is under maintenance until Friday. Together, the two outages involve enough electricity to power two million homes, according to National Grid.
A spokesperson for National Grid said the company has sufficient backup power in place to get through the evening peak period on Wednesday.
Britain normally imports 3 gigawatts of electricity from France, enough to supply three million homes, the spokesperson said.
The bizarre events ofWednesday illustrate how pressurized power systems are due to the shutdown of conventional coal and nuclear power plants, and the growing reliance on renewables like wind and solar, the yield of which can be reduced. vary depending on the breeze and the sun.
These factors, and the growing demand for energy as the economy recovers from the pandemic , have left Britain with a low power generation capacity.
Adding to the uncertainty, the breezes of the latter times have been low, cutting off power generation from Britain's many offshore wind turbines.
The loss of the cable will further crush the power grid at a inconvenient time, analysts said. The prices of natural gas, the fuel for power plants that provide electricity pduring peak periods, are already at very high levels. The high consumption in China and elsewhere is partly explained by the fact that Europe has not built up gas storage reserves for the winter.
Natural gas futures rose more than 6% on Wednesday.
" This incident has put more pressure and reliance on flexible production sources, such as coal, gas and batteries, to ensure the lights are kept on, "said Catherine Newman, managing director of Limejump, a company that manages large scale batteries and other devices used to balance the power system.
The situation means that National Grid , the network operatorBritish, must put pressure on back-up generation sources, such as heavily polluting coal-fired power stations, in service, often paying high prices.
En As a result, energy prices are likely to rise further for consumers in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, where the effects of high natural gas prices are being felt. UK energy regulatory agency Ofgem has already informed consumers that the caps on some standard energy tariffs will be raised by 12%.
The industry is also compressed. Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, a trade body, said in a statement Wednesday that "sky-high prices are forcing some UK steelmakers to suspend operations " during the periodes where prices are skyrocketing. The high prices were a sign of an "unhealthy" energy market, he said.
Consumers across the country Europe are squeezed by high energy prices. On Tuesday, the Spanish government, faced with political pressure, measures announced to protect angry consumers.
In addition, the incident serves as a reminder that despite having left the European Union, Great Britain remains dependent on member countries in many ways including for energy imports.
The British electricity system is connected to France, Ireland and other European countries by high capacity submarine cables. The idea is to send energy between networks to balance the systems.
Recently, analyst For example, the flow from France has been mostly one-way, as Britain benefits from relatively cheap nuclear power produced elsewhere.