Britain was forced to get its electricity from Belgium during heatwave to stop blackout in London and paid the highest price on record – 5,000% HIGHER than typical price after negotiation that could now send household bills SOARING

  • Unprecedented crisis in British electricity system brought London near blackout
  • And only by paying record-high £9,724 per megawatt hour did lights stay on
  • Price hike above 5,000% came after emergency talks with Belgian suppliers
  • They cranked up aging plants to send electricity across the Channel – at a price
  • Controllers nearly forced to ‘disconnect homes from electricity’: grid spokesman

Britain paid the highest price on record for electricity in London last week as the capital narrowly avoided a power blackout.

The National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) was forced to pay £9,724.54 per megawatt hour to Belgium, more than 5,000% the typical price on Wednesday.

Otherwise controllers would have had to disconnect homes, forcing a blackout in south-east London, Bloomberg reported.

The average price paid for a megawatt hour of electricity so far this year is £178. 

A sequence of issues around the hottest UK days on record led to extreme constraints in the power system and hiked up demand.

The National Grid was forced to shell out 5,000% its usual fee amid urgent blackout fears

Controllers claim they would have had to ‘disconnect homes’ from power – but were bailed out

Temperatures surged above 40C in the UK last Tuesday and London Fire Brigade reported its busiest day since the Second World War as the heatwave led to hundreds of fires across the city.

Increased demand for energy across Europe combined with a bottleneck in the grid forced the ESO to buy electricity from Belgium at the highest price Britain has ever paid to keep power flowing.

Other factors, including planned maintenance outages of overhead lines and a storm in Belgium impacting solar power, put the system under severe strain.

While the amount bought at the record amount was minimal – reportedly enough to supply eight houses for a year – it has exposed the UK’s reliance on importing electricity from interconnectors overseas, particularly France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

A spokesperson at National Grid ESO said that while other generation was available on Wednesday, power outages during the summer period meant a specific circuit was needed to get electricity to the right place.

National Grid ESO said: “We were bidding in a tight market and market prices were high that day because Europe also wanted the energy.

“We managed the system and kept the electricity flowing to the South East.”

National Grid, which manages the UK’s infrastructure, added that while it plans to strengthen networks across the UK, importing electricity from overseas has cost benefits for consumers.

But Wednesday’s sky-high transaction could be felt by households in their upcoming energy bills as energy suppliers pass on the costs.

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