Electricity security of supply

About the programme

National Grid looks at a range of conditions when deciding how much power to procure for the Contingency Balancing Reserves. These include the risk of a colder or warmer than average winter as well as if other European countries don’t export as much power as we would normally expect during high demand periods in the winter.

National Grid procures for the Contingency Balancing Reserves in an economic and efficient way approved by Ofgem. This is the optimal level of protection for consumers, accounting for the costs and value of procuring the services. 

Britain has one of the most reliable electricity systems in the world.

As part of their monitoring, National Grid produce an annual Winter Outlook Report. This contains an assessment of the risks to supplies in Britain over the next winter.

Electricity capacity margins (the average amount of extra electricity available compared to peak winter demand) are tightening in Britain. This is because older and less profitable power stations are closing. However, if needed, National Grid can use extra tools to balance the system in winter 2016/17.

Our electricity sources

Our electricity is generated from a variety of sources including coal, gas, nuclear and renewables.

Generators and suppliers produce and buy electricity. Additionally, four subsea cables connect Britain to France, the Netherlands and Ireland so we can import and export electricity.

Roles and responsibilities

In GB, National Grid’s job is to manage electricity flows on the grid so that supply matches demand on a second by second basis, even when it is very cold or if power stations break down.

The government sets the long-term direction for energy policy. 

What does Ofgem do?

Our role is to make sure that the electricity market works properly and that there are no barriers to stop companies doing their job.

Each year we run a seminar for industry and stakeholders to discuss different perspectives on the supply and demand outlook, plus the risks and challenges for the winter ahead. Find out more in National Grid Outlook Seminars.

Information and reports we have published on electricity security of supply can be found in the publications and updates list below.

Publications and updates