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LONDON: Britain may need to prolong the life of coal-fired power stations to avert household energy blackouts this winter following key gas supplier Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government said Monday.
“In light of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, it is only right that we explore a wide range of options to further bolster our energy security and domestic supply,” said a government spokesperson.
“While there is no shortage of supply, we may need to make our remaining coal-fired power stations available to provide additional back up electricity this coming winter if needed.”
Up to 6 million UK households could face potential energy blackouts and rationing in the peak-demand winter, according to a source close to the matter.
The news confirmed a report in The Times newspaper.
One of the government’s worst-case scenarios indicates there could be widespread gas shortages if Russia goes further in cutting off supplies to Europe, the paper added.
The UK relies heavily on natural gas for electricity generation but is far less dependent than the rest of Europe on Russian energy.
“You would expect government to look at a range of scenarios to ensure plans are robust, no matter how unlikely they are to pass and neither the government or National Grid expect power cuts this winter,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“You will know that we’re in a fortunate position, we’re not dependent on Russian energy imports and have one of the most reliable and diverse energy systems,” the spokesperson added.
In response to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, the UK plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022 and eventually stop importing its gas.
Britain nevertheless remains committed to scrapping coal-powered electricity generation by October 2024, under plans to cut carbon emissions and combat global warming.
At the same time, the government is considering extending the life of the Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant in southwestern England although it had been due to be decommissioned this summer.
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