The huge increase seen in renewable generation has made the UK’s power system more resilient to deal with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a leading academic.
Professor Phil Hart, Director of Energy and Power at Cranfield University, said the risk to power supplies as the UK tackles the outbreak was “very minimal” even if some generation sites had to be withdrawn from service if the crisis goes on for a long time and workforce sickness impacts on maintenance schedules.
“The advent and scale of renewables in our supply system is helpful here as the size of renewable plants is generally much smaller, and the national power system will be better able to handle withdrawal of multiple smaller sites,” he said.
Meanwhile, industry leaders are engaging with the Government on the impact of the Covid-19 disruption on green energy projects and the supply chain.
RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn stressed renewables and the wider energy sector are “critical infrastructure” for the UK.
“Our industry will continue to work with Government to support the national effort to respond to the challenges.”
Onn said the organisation was working through the impacts on projects, the supply chain and the industry’s workforce and helping firms access the support announced by the Chancellor.
Audrey Gallacher, Chief Executive of Energy UK said the industry has well-practiced contingency plans in order to ensure the delivery of services in “extraordinary circumstances.”
National Grid ESO’s director Fintan Slye said the network operator has analysed anticipated effects on supplies of mass self-isolation of the UK’s workforce and expects overall demand to reduce due to falling energy use from industrial consumers.
Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley said the regulator would be “pragmatic” about compliance during the pandemic and added: “Where companies can demonstrate that any compliance issues have resulted from prioritising efforts to protect customers and security of supply, we will take full account of this in any decisions we take.”
It has also postponed RIIO-2 hearings until further notice.
Meanwhile, ministers have agreed a deal with suppliers to keep the lights on for vulnerable customers during the pandemic. Measures will include not disconnecting customers who can’t afford to pay their bills, especially those on pre-payment meters.