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Energy Capacity Returns but Manufacturer Concerns Remain

bulbCheers and celebration could have been expected as rare good news was heard amongst the scare stories of dwindling generation capacity for Winter 2014/15.

The Good

RWE’s 400MW Great Yarmouth Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) power station returned to service following 8 months of repairs with RWE Generation UK’s distributed assets group manager Kerry Nesbitt promising:

“We are now ready to provide flexible essential electricity generation to National Grid for the coming winter”

In addition Didcot B has recovered sufficiently from its dramatic fire last month to return to 50% capacity with the restarting of the 750MW Module 5 unit, whilst the unaffected Module 6 continues to run at full capacity.

Welcoming the news RWE Head of Hard Coal and Gas Roger Miesen said:

“It’s good news that Module 5 is back online so quickly. It will be available to generate power this winter and essential repairs will be in the region of single digit million pounds”

Further good news arrived with SSE confirming the returning to service of one of the two fired-damaged Ferrybridge units in November whilst EDF Energy expects that one unit at Heysham and both Hartlepool reactors expected to be online by month end.

The Bad

However the remaining Heysham unit is not expected to return until the end of the year at the earliest and even then will be run on a vastly reduced basis.

The Ugly

Although this rare good news makes a positive change, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF the Manufacturers organization, remains extremely concerned as to the underlying ability of the current energy market to support UK business and manufacturing capacity. Scuoler said:

“The fact we’ve had to introduce emergency measures to keep the lights on is testament to the failure of successive governments to grasp the nettle and plan more effectively to support the UK’s energy infrastructure

“While we may have limited spare capacity this winter the real concern remains for next year when the margin is due to drop even further.

“A particularly cold winter, unfavourable conditions for renewable generation and unexpected closure of power stations could leave domestic and industrial users very exposed to power shortages.”

Such sentiment was echoed by Peter Birtles Group Director of energy intensive users Sheffield Forgemasters saying:

“The UK’s buffer between average capacity and peak demand for electricity has fallen year-on-year to an all-time low of approximately 4% through diminished supply.

“We may well find that a harsh winter will force electricity providers to impose greater shutdown periods on businesses because demand could easily outstrip supply and exceed that 4pc margin.

“Unless the UK’s electricity generating capacity is radically improved over the short-term, and with a realistic view on future demands and costs to industry, manufacturers will be under serious pressure to maintain their UK operations.”