Looming cold snap fuels fears of UK power cuts

Drop in temperatures in coming days may be ‘first piece of grim jigsaw’

Car pulls over in cold weather
Some areas are expected to face temperatures of -10C by the end of this week
(Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Plummeting temperatures forecast for the UK from tomorrow have increased fears of nationwide power cuts amid Europe’s energy crisis.

The Met Office has warned that an “arctic maritime airmass will push across the UK from the north”, bringing “cold days, overnight frosts and a risk of wintry showers and snow” from mid-week. Temperatures are expected to drop to as low as -10C overnight in some areas.

As ��the first big snowfall of winter threatens to drop”, said The Guardian’s energy correspondent Alex Lawson, “it’s not only the forecasters and road gritters who will be twitchy”. Britain’s energy executives and policymakers are also “on tenterhooks over the danger of power cuts”, he claimed, as households are forced to “nudge the thermostat up, putting a strain on the country’s power supplies”.

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National Grid has previously warned that a combination of events such as a cold snap and a cut-off of Russian gas to Europe could trigger power cuts. “Is this the first piece of that grim jigsaw?” Lawson asked.

In a letter obtained by The Times in October, energy regulator Ofgem also warned of a “significant risk” of gas shortages this winter because of the Ukraine war and supply problems in Europe.

National Grid CEO John Pettigrew subsequently told a Financial Times energy summit that the shortages could result in UK blackouts, “probably between 4pm and 7pm in the evenings on those weekdays when it's really, really cold in January and February”.

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.