The La Nina weather pattern could provide a boost for power prices in Europe this winter with cooler wind temperatures and lower wind speeds very possible according to models produced by the UK’s meteorological service.
However Bloomberg Energy reports that the conditions may force the UK to buy more expensive backup power as wind power will not be sufficient to compensate for the extent of conventional power plant closures the country has overseen in recent years.
As the El Nino weather system ebbs away, energy demand will be driven up while breezes that wind farms depend on to generate renewable power will be quelled.
“If La Nina succeeds in pushing the European weather regime into high pressure patterns, it generally means colder temperatures,” said Hazel Thornton, a weather analyst at the Met Office, told Bloomberg “It’s also the case that we get the unfortunate relationship of lower wind speeds during that period, so that could mean we get lower wind power.”
With coal-fired power capacity reduced to just seven plants in Britain, the buffer of surplus generation may fall below zero at times next winter, prompting National Grid Plc to draw on its reserves. As much as 7GW of closures were announced for 2016, equivalent to 11 per cent of UK peak demand.
The UK’s National Grid will be able to ensure the “lights stay on” by calling on its Strategic Balancing Reserve, an expensive option only used when power prices reach 3,000 pounds per megawatt hour — 100 times the normal price.
National Grid Chief Executive Officer John Pettigrew told analysts on May 19that the winter will be “tight but manageable.” To prevent blackouts, the operator of England’s electricity grid will pay £122.4m ($185m) to keep 3.58 GW on standby in 2016-17, up from 2.56 GW the previous year. It also will award contracts to businesses and factories agreeing to curb demand at short notice.
La Nina is the opposite of the warming characterized by El Nino, which came to an end this week after helping to generate the hottest temperatures in 130 years.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 75 per cent chance it will develop by year’s end, but its formation also could come earlier: sometime from July to September.
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