Warning UK could face blackouts

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Britain is facing the rising risk of an energy shortfall within three years, a watchdog has warned.

Ofgem said energy supplies were being hit by tough European Union environmental laws and the closure of ageing coal and oil-fired power stations.

It predicts the amount of spare capacity in the UK could plunge from current historic high levels of 14 per cent to four per cent in 2015/16, leaving the UK at risk of significant shortfalls.

The Government welcomed yesterday’s report and said it hoped reforms as part of its forthcoming Energy Bill would ensure supply was secured.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: “Security of electricity supply is of critical importance to the health of the economy and the smooth functioning of our daily lives.

“That is why the Government is reforming the electricity market to deliver secure, clean and affordable electricity.”

Ofgem’s report, its first annual electricity capacity assessment, comes three years after findings of the regulator’s Project Discovery study, which warned that energy supply shortfalls would lead to higher customer bills.

Yesterday’s report reveals that the UK could be left with a shortage equivalent to 1,000 households in 2015/16, or 9,000 households in extreme circumstances.

It estimates the chance of network operator National Grid having to cut power to customers would stand at one in 12 years in 2015/16.