Energy crisis: Great Britain faces power cuts

Njust five weeks ago, shortly before her election as the new prime minister Liz Truss explicitly “impossible” that there will be bottlenecks in Great Britain and that energy can be rationed. When she was asked by journalists at the meeting of the European Political Community (EPG) in Prague on Thursday whether she could rule out power cuts this winter, she refused to answer. Instead, she just said the UK has “good coverage” and is “in a significantly better position than many other countries”. Britain will “get through the winter”.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

This was exactly what the (predominantly) British network operator “National Grid” questioned on Friday. Both private households and companies ran the risk of up to three hours long power outages to be affected if the Ukraine war caused imports from Europe to drop, it said. The British would soon be called upon to only switch on electrical appliances such as washing machines at night to prevent problems at peak times. Another contingency measure by the operator is to offer households and businesses money if they turn off electricity at peak times. Asked about Truss’ refusal to rule out blackouts, Graham Stuart, Secretary of State for Climate Protection, said in London on Friday: “Events have developed.”

criticism of the EU

In the past few weeks, the government has complained that the EU Commission would have refused talks about a coordinated energy policy. During the EPG meeting, Truss asked that the EU states continue to supply the kingdom with electricity and gas during the winter.

When asked about this, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in Prague that a few months ago, Belgium had supplied electricity “to keep the lights on in London”. His country supplies a quarter of the island’s gas needs. The existing interconnectors would also remain open in the future, so you have to stick together especially now. “The UK is no longer a member of the EU, but we remain partners and we continue to trade with each other.” The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “I hope the lights stay on (in London) but we can’t do it alone.”

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