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Risk of UK power cuts this winter has increased, says National Grid

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Risk of UK power cuts this winter has increased, says National Grid

The risk of power cuts to factories and homes this winter has increased, the National Grid warned, as the business secretary prepared for a crunch meeting with industry bosses concerned the energy crisis may force them to scale back production.

The price of gas and electricity has soared in recent weeks, leading to the collapse of multiple energy suppliers and prompting warnings of higher costs for consumers, factory shutdowns and increased pollution as plants switch to dirtier but cheaper fuels.

The unfolding energy crisis has coincided with the Grid’s annual assessment of Great Britain’s resilience to disruption to electricity supplies, with the key “margin” figure falling to its lowest in five years.

The Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) said the amount of reserve electricity supply that could be called upon was expected to be 6.6% of demand, but could fall as low as 4.2%.

It said it believed there was enough slack in the system to avoid blackouts affecting households and factories.

But it said that conditions had worsened since a prediction it made in July, after a fire knocked out a high-voltage subsea power cable importing electricity from France. Half of the 2GW cable is expected to be unavailable until March.

Planned shutdowns at gas plants and the retirement of two nuclear reactors are also factors in the tighter margin for the winter.

The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, is due to meet leaders from industries such as steel, glass, ceramics and chemicals on Friday, but is expected to tell them to forget about receiving any extra assistance.

While factories are not expected to face electricity blackouts, they say they need help with costs. Some of the most energy-intensive industries have issued a plea to the government for financial support to help them cope with soaring energy prices.

They say the cost of electricity could force factory shutdowns, production slowdowns, and switches from gas to more polluting energy sources such as fuel oil, potentially causing embarrassment ahead of the upcoming Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Shadow business minister Ed Miliband said the gas price crisis was “made in Downing Street”.

“The UK is particularly vulnerable to increases in gas prices because the government allowed our gas storage facilities to close, blocked onshore wind, cut solar subsidies, stalled our nuclear programme and because of their total failure to deliver a long-term plan for energy efficiency.”

On Thursday, the Grid said that the UK would have to outbid European countries to get hold of gas over the winter, indicating further pressure on prices.

Energy advisory group Cornwall Insight has said the average dual fuel bill could rise by as much as 30% next year if gas and electricity prices continue to soar and more suppliers go bust, reaching £1,660 annually.

While the government has imposed an energy price cap, the ceiling rises regularly in line with costs faced by suppliers, who have been battered by soaring wholesale prices.

So far this year, 12 suppliers have collapsed, with many more predicted to go to the wall by the end of the year. Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of energy regulator Ofgem, told an industry conference on Thursday that the watchdog needed to be “more focused on business models and the risk they carry” in future.

Speaking at the same event, Kwarteng said the government “will not bail out failed companies, there cannot be a reward for irresponsible management of businesses.”

Some small suppliers have been criticised for setting up shop with risky business models that meant they weren’t properly “hedged” against rising gas prices.

Officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are understood to be considering measures to speed up the UK’s transition to renewable energy to reduce reliance on gas, including more frequent windfarm auctions.

Boris Johnson this week pledged to remove fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2035.

While coal has been all but phased out of power generation, gas can still account for more than 50% of supply on windless days when the sun isn’t shining.

Kwarteng said on Thursday that reducing reliance would involve boosting wind power, gas plants that use carbon capture and storage to reduce carbon emissions and “at least” one nuclear project.

The government is expected to rubber-stamp French state-owned energy company EDF’s plans for a the Sizewell C reactor in Suffolk but has yet to find a developer for Wylfa Newydd, on Anglesey.

Officials are drawing up plans to overhaul the way nuclear power stations are funded, to make them more attractive to private investors.

Kwarteng said “the volatility of the gas price has shown that we do need to plan strategically, and I think net zero helps us do that, for a secure, affordable, and sustainable energy system.”

Gas prices have soared across Europe but have been particularly high in the UK, reaching record levels above £4 per therm.

The International Energy Agency said on Thursday that Russia could help ease the crisis, telling the Financial Times that the Kremlin was able to increase gas flows into Europe by up to 15%.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said Europe’s “mistakes” are to blame for the crisis, rather than any reluctance in Moscow to open gas taps.

However, he used the opportunity to highlight regulatory delays in Europe to the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying the planned connection could help bring down prices.

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Environment

NiMet predicts thunderstorm, rain from Friday to Sunday

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted thunderstorms and rains from Friday to Sunday across the country.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Thursday in Abuja envisaged morning thunderstorms on Friday  over parts of Kano State and Kaduna State.

It anticipated thunderstorms over parts of Bauchi State, Gombe State, Zamfara, Sokoto State, Kaduna State, Adamawa and Taraba later in the day.

“In the North Central region, morning thunderstorms and rains are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Benue, Niger and Nasarawa State.

”While later in the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi and Kwara.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Oyo State, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Ondo State, Lagos State, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta, while intermittent rains are anticipated over the entire Southern region later in the day,” it said.

According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kebbi, Kaduna State and Zamfara on Sunday while afternoon and evening thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Gombe State, Kaduna State and Bauchi State.

The agency forecast thunderstorm and rains over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa State and Niger during the morning hours.

NiMet predicted thunderstorms and rains over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa State and Benue later in the day.

The agency envisaged morning rains over parts of Ondo State, Ogun, Edo and Lagos State.

It predicted intermittent rains over parts of Osun, Oyo State, Ogun, Ondo State, Lagos State, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River later in the day.

According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Jigawa, Kebbi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe State and Bauchi State later in the day on Sunday.

The agency anticipated thunderstorms  over parts of Katsina State, Zamfara, Sokoto State and Kebbi.

“In the North Central region, rains are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa State, Plateau and Niger during the morning hours.

“Partly cloudy conditions are also expected over the region during the afternoon/evening hours.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Edo and Lagos State, while in the afternoon/evening hours, intermittent rains are anticipated over parts of Ondo State, Ekiti and Osun” it said.

The agency urged the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds may precede the rains in areas where thunderstorms are likely to occur.

NiMet advised Airline operators to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations.

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Environment

Lagos to reintroduce monthly environmental sanitation

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the reintroduction of monthly environmental sanitation in the state.

The state Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, who disclosed this to newsmen said the State Executive Council granted the approval. He said the sanitation which would commence in July, would be officially announced by the governor soon.

“Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the state executive council have approved the re-introduction of the monthly sanitation. The governor will announce it officially for the exercise to commence this month,” Wahab, who spoke in Yoruba language, said in a 21-second clip shared on the Lagos State Environmental Update page on X.

The state government stopped the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in the state in 2016.

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Environment

NEMA activates states’ emergency centres on flood assessment

The Director General National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Zubaida Umar has activated all Zonal, Territorial and Operation offices of the agency nationwide, to work with the States’ Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) within their area of responsibilities, to carry out rescue operations and conduct assessment of the situation.

The move is in furtherance of its proactive flood risk management.

A statement from the agency on Sunday, said the NEMA Zonal, Territorial and Operation offices are located in Lagos, Ibadan, Ekiti, Abuja, Minna, Jos, Enugu, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Edo, Uyo, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Yola and Gombe.

At the headquarters, NEMA said it also operates a toll-free emergency contact line: 0800CALLNEMA (080022556362) in addition to all its social media platforms, through which feedback from members of the public can be received nationwide.

Consequently, NEMA said search and rescue officers have been deployed across the states, and have been providing the much-desired support in coordination of rescue operations with SEMAs and other stakeholders in recently flooded areas and communities.

The agency also said it is conducting a rapid assessment to determine any further assistance that may be required in the impacted communities.

It said, “The rescue efforts by NEMA are in addition to the ongoing sensitization and awareness activities being carried out to alert the public of the predicted flood for necessary actions to be taken to avert negative impacts.”

On Wednesday, 3rd July, Umar was in Anambra State on flood advocacy where she discussed with the Deputy Governor who represented the Governor, and religious and community leaders, on measures to avert and mitigate floods in the state which often record severe flooding annually. She has also previously visited several states and stakeholders across the country on the same mission with plans to continue with the advocacy.

It said, “As part of its pre-rainy season flood prevention advocacy, the Agency engaged the media in the placement of flood sensitisation jingles, and held an emergency coordination forum with critical stakeholders to prepare them for the predicted disaster.

The agency also said that soon after the flood prediction, written all state governments with the list of local governments that are at risk and outlined actions required to be taken to avert or mitigate the disaster.

It said, “A number of states that heeded the advisory from NEMA have acknowledged their early actions matched with the warnings and NEMA responses that have made lots of differences.

NEMA reemphasize the flood warning while calling on all stakeholders including the state and the local government, to be prepared for the intensifying of the rain season.

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