Households across Britain could be paid to cut the amount of electricity they use from Tuesday, as the National Grid considers emergency measures to prevent blackouts.
A decision is due to be made on Monday afternoon after it emerged French nuclear plants will be unable to help deal with demand.
The National Grid’s system operator said it was considering the first-ever live run of its Demand Flexibility Service, which works by asking households to reduce the amount of electricity they use at certain times – and promises to pay them for any reductions they make.
The scheme was launched earlier this month and has already been tested twice, but has not yet run live.
It comes as forecasts projected a large drop in the amount of power that Britain will be able to import from France.
It will mean that the difference between the amount of electricity available for households and businesses and the amount they will use during peak times will be tight.
“Even though wind is coming back for tomorrow evening’s peak, slow return of nukes in France plus lower temperatures may mean that there is a reduction in available imports across the interconnectors,” according to consultancy EnergyAppSys.
The forecasters also warned that margins will be tight in both Britain and France on Monday evening, meaning both countries will need to import power from abroad.
France has been facing months of problems with its nuclear power plants, which generate around three quarters of the country’s electricity.
Even though wind is coming back for tomorrow evening’s peak, slow return of nukes in France plus lower temperatures may mean that there is a reduction in available imports across the interconnectors
More than half of the nuclear reactors run by state energy company EDF have closed due to maintenance problems and technical issues.
It has added to a massive energy crisis in Europe as the country faces a winter without its old gas supplier Russia.
National Grid said that it would decide by 2.30pm on Monday whether to activate the Demand Flexibility Service.
“An anticipated DFS requirement notice has been published for tomorrow, Tuesday,” it said.
“This is an indication that a DFS service requirement might be published today at 2.30pm.”