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UK capacity margins slimmer than ever

The UK’s National Grid is having to enlist the support of standby generators and big consumers for the second year running

The situation could be tighter still next year, and while capacity market incentives are already in place, there is no sign so far of new, flexible gas-fired capacity additions the government is looking for. Longer term, technology may be the answer to the margin squeeze, with demand-side management, storage and decentralised grids all working together, but in the meantime it looks as though Grid will have to turn to more old coal and diesel back-up plants. As forecast by the national energy regulator Ofgem in July, National Grid’s Winter Report has put the upcoming winter reserve margin – the difference between available power supply and expected peak demand – at 1.2%, the lowest since 200

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