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Winter blackouts threat grows as National Grid delays repairs to key power cable

WINTER blackouts could be on the cards after the National Grid delayed repairs to a crucial power cable between France and Britain.

National Grid’s Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) supplies two million homes and was damaged in 2021 after a blaze at its Kent substation.

Winter blackouts could happen after the National Grid delayed repairs to a crucial power cable between France and Britain

Winter blackouts could happen after the National Grid delayed repairs to a crucial power cable between France and BritainCredit: Getty
The National Grid's IFA cable in Kent was damaged in a blaze last year

The National Grid’s IFA cable in Kent was damaged in a blaze last yearCredit: Getty

The key electricity line brings in two megawatts per hour, more than the total amount generated by wind in the UK. 

But the 44 mile power cable will now not be available until mid-January, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Experts had hoped it would go from half-capacity now to full-capacity just before Christmas but have had their hopes dashed.

It comes after worries that households could face blackouts this winter if the energy crisis continues and there’s a drop in temperatures.

Britain has been thrown into an energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with millions being hammered by soaring energy bills. caused.

Around 40% of the UK’s electricity supply is generated from gas

Last month, National Grid warned gas shortages could lead to power cuts in some areas.

They said that blackouts could be imposed in January and February.

The outages could occur on the coldest days between 4pm and 7pm in the worst case.

Households would be notified of temporary power outages ahead of time and they would be according to where they live.

Blocks of households in particular areas could have their supplies cut off on rotation to avoid the entire country being plunged into darkness.

Colder temperatures during the winter naturally lead to more energy being consumed as people turn the heating on and have to use electricity for longer periods of the day. 

In order to prevent planned power cuts, households will be paid to turn down their heating and not use their washing machines at peak time to save the country as much energy as possible.

If the power cuts do go ahead, it will be the first time there have been controlled blackouts since the 1970s. 

A National Grid spokesperson said: “We updated the market via REMIT on Tuesday that that we expect IFA to return to 1500MW on 20 December with a return to its full 2000MW capacity by 18 January. 

“IFA is currently operating at 1000MW.”

“The delay at IFA is due to a number of factors, including the availability of specialists and equipment supply challenges faced by our supply chain.

“Overall, the process of returning IFA to full capacity has gone well.  Close collaboration with suppliers and a 24/7 shift pattern has enabled us to completely rebuild the IFA converter hall in less than half the time it typically takes to construct a new converter station (around 15 months vs 3 years).”

What should I do during a blackout?

Households could face blackouts this winter if the energy crisis continues, here’s how to keep warm:

Wear more clothes – Wearing thick clothes and multiple layers will ensure that your body retains heat while your heating is off.

Close windows and doors – This will keep in as much heat in as possible and stave off the cold for longer.

Prepare a thermos flask – Without energy, you won’t be able to turn on your cooker to boil up a kettle and make yourself a warm drink. Prepare this in advance.

Plan central heating use – If you’re given enough notice of a blackout, turn on your central heating the hour beforehand to ensure your house is at a comfortable temperature pre-blackout