The Guardian: “Households could experience a series of three-hour power cuts this winter if Vladimir Putin shuts off gas supplies from Russia and Britain experiences a cold snap.”
Nearly two weeks after the destruction of main undersea Russian gas pipelines to Europe, the United Kingdom could be heading for blackouts, government officials fear.
The UK government is gearing up for long power-cuts as Russian gas supplies to Europe dwindle ahead of the winter months. “Britain is ‘planning’ for blackouts this winter, a minister said on Friday,” the British newspaper Evening Standard reported citing Energy Minister Graham Stuart.
Though newly-appointed UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has ruled out energy rationing this winter, private power suppliers are telling British households to use less electricity during the peak hours. “Households are now being encouraged to sign up with their electricity supplier to a scheme which encourages them to use washing machines and other electrical appliances at off-peak times by giving them money back on their bills,” the newspaper added. Other options, according the daily, could be “paying people to charge their electric cars at off-peak times, and firing up back-up coal plants.”
National Grid, the network that supplies electricity to England, Scotland, and Wales, also confirmed that the country could be hit nationwide blackouts if Russian gas supplies continue to dwindle. “Households could experience a series of three-hour power cuts this winter if Vladimir Putin shuts off gas supplies from Russia and Britain experiences a cold snap, National Grid has warned,” the Guardian newspaper reported.
While Britain does not rely on Russian energy and imports nearly 80 percent of this natural gas from Norway, the country fears that continental Europe, particularly Germany, will increasingly source gas from Nordic countries, spiking prices and creating shortages.
Despite the disruption in the Nord Stream pipeline network, Russia still remains a major player in the European energy market. Russian gas can still flow into Europe via the Russian pipeline running through Ukraine and the TurkStream pipeline that supplies Turkey and southeastern Europe.
The looming energy crisis is the worst Britain has faced since the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74. “For the first time in 50 years, Britain is worrying about power cuts,” the BBC reported.
Britain, much like the rest of Europe, had pinned its hope on unreliable sources of power generation such as wind and solar energy and could face uncertain winter months if Russia further slashes gas exports to Europe.
The UK heavily relies on natural gas for generation of electricity. Some “40% of Britain’s electricity comes from gas-fired power stations,” the BBC estimated. Describing the impending electricity crisis, the British broadcaster noted:
President Putin looks set for the long-haul in his stand-off with Europe over gas supplies. So the continent will be shipping it in from elsewhere and cutting back where it can to keep the lights on.
But if there’s a cold snap that pushes up demand for gas, or even worse, if there’s a cold and still snap, so that the UK’s wind turbines don’t deliver, then we’ve got a problem.
Energy Crisis Fuels Anti-Establishment Movements Across Europe
The energy crisis is fueling nationalist and anti-establishment movements across Continental Europe. In Germany, a new right-wing protest movement—backed by the opposition party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)—is gaining strength by rallying against surging energy bills and rising cost of living.
“In several East German cities, thousands of people took to the streets again during the so-called Monday demonstrations,” the German state TV channel Der Tagesschau reported last week. “According to police, the most number of protests took place in [eastern German state of] Thuringia. A total of around 24,000 people participated in demonstrations and rallies across the state.”
In early September, more than 70,000 people demonstrated in the Czech Republic’s capital Prague against surging energy prices. The massive “Czech-Republic-First” rally blasted the country’s center-left government and the EU for their misguided energy policies.
The European Union and Europe’s ruling political class fear a political backlash as populist protest movements emerge across the continent. In recent national elections, anti-establishment right-wing parties have taken power in Sweden and Italy.DONATE
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