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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

Alake Unveils Mining Marshals To Secure Mining Sites

In fulfilment of a major plank of his 7-point agenda to create a new security architecture to secure mining sites, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake has unveiled a 2,200-strong Mines Marshal to smoke out illegal miners and all those who flout the nation’s mining laws.

Formally receiving the marshals drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) from the Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, representing the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Alake charged the new operatives to stem theft and all nefarious activities around the nation’s mineral resources so that the nation can reap maximum benefits from its God-given resources.

It will be recalled that as a result of the efforts of the presidential Inter-ministerial committee on securing natural resources chaired by Dr. Alake, the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo, a few weeks ago launched the NSCDC-led mines marshal, which represents the first layer of the new security architecture to secure the mining environment.

With a command structure spread across the 36 states and the FCT, the mines marshal will have their command and control domiciled in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development(MSMD), with an initial 60 operatives deployed in each state and the FCT.

Highlighting the role played by his interior counterpart in the evolution of the new security outfit, Dr. Alake commended Hon. Olubunmi-Ojo for putting words to actions and working tirelessly with the solid minerals ministry to achieve the feat.

“Today’s event of unveiling and formally handing over the specially trained and selected civil defence structure to engage illegal miners and sanitise our mining environment was also part of what we conceived at the inter-ministerial committee chaired by me. I am very happy to let the public know that from the outset we said are going to tackle insecurity in the mining sector and the first batch of the security apparati is what we are launching today, the Minister added.

The mines marshal devised to be an inter-agency security outfit will incorporate special operatives from other security agencies like the Nigeria Police, army, amongst others. Its operations will largely be technologically driven.

In his remarks, NSCDC Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi stated that the new mines marshal will give verve to the corps’ mandate of protecting national assets and infrastructure in which solid minerals is a major component.

Audi revealed that the marshals will liaise with mine inspectorate in states to garner intelligence and take directives from the ministry for effective execution of its mandate.

“We have a list of illegal miners across the nation, and we will go after them. Their days are now numbered, “Audi declared.

The Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Jonathan Gbefwi, who graced the occasion, expressed satisfaction with the new security outfit, noting that with improved security around mining areas, Nigeria’s economic fortunes is bound for a forward leap.

” When the Minister reeled out his 7-point agenda during his inaugural address, which included the Mines Police, not a few people were sceptical about it. But today, he has matched words with action. On behalf of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I doff my hat for him and say, “Well done.” You can be rest assured of the continued support and cooperation of the House of Reps and, by extension, the National Assembly, Hon. Gbefwi said.

The new Mines Marshal is led by a Commander, Chief Superintendent of Corps, CSC Attah John Onoja.

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Environment

NiMET Predicts 3-day sunshine, thunderstorms

There will be sunshine and thunderstorms from Saturday to Monday across the country, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted.

A release on Friday in Abuja, according to NiMet’s weather outlook, forecasts a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Saturday, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Kebbi and Sokoto states.

“Thunderstorms are also expected over parts of Kaduna, Kebbi,and Zamfara states later in the day,” the agency reports.

It explained that the sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds is anticipated over the north-central cities, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Niger, adding that during the afternoon and evening hours, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Niger, the Federal Capital Territory, and Plateau states.

It also explained that a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states and the coastal cities of the south, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

The agency envisaged that there would be thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Lagos, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers states later in the day and anticipates a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Sunday, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, and Bauchi states during the afternoon and evening hours.

It also predicted a sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds over the North Central cities with prospects of afternoon and evening thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau states, as well as a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states later in the day.

According to the agency, there would be prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Oyo, Osun, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos states in the afternoon and evening periods.

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Environment

NiMET forecasts 3-day sunshine, haziness

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has forecast sunshine and haziness from Monday to Wednesday nationwide.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Sunday in Abuja, predicted sunny and hazy atmosphere on Monday over the northern region throughout the forecast period.

It said cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine are expected over the North Central states with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Benue State during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Benue and Kogi.

“Increased cloudy condition is anticipated in the morning hours over Inland states of South and coastal cities with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Rivers and Delta states.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Osun, Ekiti, Ogun, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states,“ it said.

The agency said that a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Tuesday with chances of localized thunderstorms over parts of Taraba and Kaduna stakes during the evening hours.

It expected patches of clouds over the North Central region with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

The agency forecast localised thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states later in the day.

It envisaged cloudy skies over the inland areas of the South and the coastal cities with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Lagos State during the morning periods.

NiMet anticipated localised thunderstorms over parts of Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Delta states in the afternoon and evening hours.

According to the agency, a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Wednesday.

“Increased cloudy condition with chances of early morning thunderstorms is expected over parts of Plateau, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localized thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

“Cloudy skies are expected over inland cities of South and Coast with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states in the morning hours,“ it said.

NiMet anticipated localized thunderstorms over parts of Abia, Ogun, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa, River and Lagos States in the afternoon and evening hours.

The agency called on the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds might precede rains in areas where thunderstorms were likely to occur.

“Temperature values are still high especially in the North, please stay hydrated. Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations,” it said.

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