(Bloomberg) -- The UK may still face energy shortages this winter even after resorting to burning coal, with less power flowing through crucial links from Europe and Scandinavia, according to a report from consultants Lane, Clark & Peacock.

Even with coal-burning plants brought back online, the country may see 10 hours when power supplies are insufficient to meet demand and the grid operator may have to shut off some users, according to the study. Limited power imports from France and Norway through subsea interconnectors could compound Britain’s squeeze.

“There are significant doubts about the availability of electricity coming into Britain from the continent which is critical to our security of supply,” said Chris Matson, partner at LCP. “To keep the lights on this winter it is likely that the energy system will need to fire up its ageing coal power stations despite our recent commitments to climate action.”

Europe is reeling from record energy bills stoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said today that the cost of measures to ease bills in the UK alone may stretch to £60 billion ($66.4 billion) in six months. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Liz Truss insisted the Britain has reliable energy supplies and that rationing was not being discussed. 

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LCP examined a “very possible” scenario in which Britain received no imports via the interconnectors, after extended droughts hit Norway’s hydro power reserves this year and France’s fleet of nuclear power stations suffered from extensive outages. While demand could exceed supply for as many as 29 hours in that situation, tapping up contingency reserves and using coal would bring that down to 10 hours. 

The UK has made a series of deals recently to keep coal stations in service. Earlier this week National Grid Plc signed an agreement with Uniper SE to keep active one of its coal units that had been scheduled to close, following similar accords with Drax Group Plc and Electricite de France SA. 

The use of coal for power generation has been declining steadily in Britain in recent years. Last year the highly polluting fuel made up just 2% of the country’s power supply, down from about 30% a decade ago. 

Still, LCP warrned that “where further supply cannot be found or demand voluntarily reduced, National Grid ESO will be required to take drastic action and disconnect customers, such as energy intensive industries, from the grid.” 


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