A prominent energy industrialist has accused the National Grid of failing the country by overseeing a huge fall in spare capacity that has left Britain closer than ever to blackouts this winter.
Alexander Temerko, a Conservative party donor and deputy chairman of the OGN Group, wants the network to be broken up.
“Despite their mandate of managing a reliable and forward-looking power grid, they have failed to invest in future proofing – and have actually driven the grid to a state where no new capacity can be added without major upgrades.
“The National Grid should be split into a profit-generating arm, with responsibility for global links and interconnection, and a public service that focuses on maintaining and, crucially, modernising and improving our power infrastructure.”
Temerko, an oil services executive who wants to build a power interconnector between the UK and France, was speaking after the grid admitted it had been forced to buy in £36.5m worth of new emergency capacity to deal with peak demand this coming winter.
Without this combination of backup capacity and demand reduction, – which involves paying factories to cut their power usage, – the margin of spare capacity this winter would be just 1.2% – its lowest level for 10 years – as old coal and even gas-fired power stations are retired and not replaced fast enough with new generation facilities.
The grid previously indicated that this coming winter would be the toughest for capacity margins, but now says that, owing to uncertainties, it is no longer clear that margins will be any better next year.
The grid has the job of balancing the UK’s power supply and demand, but is not responsible for ensuring new capacity is built and can only advise the government on policy measures.
Energy experts have previously argued there is no proper “system architect” overseeing the country’s move to a low-carbon economy, while the grid has been criticised for not promoting energy demand schemes sufficiently. The company declined to comment.