The National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) says there is a lower risk of energy shortages in the UK this winter than there was last year. In its Winter Outlook for 2023/2024, released on 27 September, it estimates a safety margin of 4.4GW, or 7.4%, this winter.

That is higher than last year’s margin and is in line with average winters.

The ESO says both the UK and European energy markets are in a better position than they were going into last winter, despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. French nuclear power is expected to be more available than last year when many plants were closed down for updates, and European gas storages are much fuller than this time last year. The ESO says it will work closely with neighbouring transmission system operators in Europe to ensure gas and electricity supplies remain solid throughout the cold months.

A Demand Flexibility Service will be reintroduced. This was used last winter amid energy shortages resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It incentivises customers to reduce their energy consumption at times when supplies are scarcest. Last winter, the Demand Flexibility Service saved more than 3,300 megawatt-hours, according to the ESO.

Craig Dyke, head of national control at the ESO, said: “Today’s report illustrates the different position we find ourselves in, compared to 12 months ago. The energy markets across Europe have responded, bolstering gas and electricity storage and supplies ahead of this winter. While this is reflected in slightly higher operational margins for this winter, we and the rest of the energy industry will as always continue to prepare for a range of potential eventualities.”

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