Government officials have begun to warn politicians that blackouts could occur this winter due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The government's “reasonable” worst-case scenario says that there could be widespread gas shortages if Russia cuts off more supplies to Europe, The Times reports. Electricity could be rationed for up to six million homes at the start of next year, during morning and evening peaks, briefings to MPs note.
Worst case modeling assumes that gas interconnectors in the Netherlands and Belgium stop exporting to the UK as they face their own internal supply crisis.
Britain would be forced to close gas-fired power stations, and would tell heavy industrial users of gas to stop using it.
A reasonable worst case could lead to a month of regular blackouts, while a more aggressive worst case could last three months.
Britain buys less than four percent of its gas from Russia, but it is deeply connected to the European market - with the EU getting around 40 percent of its gas from the country. Should supplies cease, then competition for Norwegian gas, where the UK gets most of its supplies, would be fierce.
Prices have already risen due to Chinese demand for liquified natural gas, and the closure of one of the UK’s largest power cables after a fire.
The impact on heavy users of electricity is not clear. As critical infrastructure, data centers would have some priority over power supplies - but will still be at the mercy of energy prices.
A new report from FTI Consulting notes that retail colocation providers are seeing a fast deterioration in bottom-line metrics as energy prices increase. All-in colocation pricing means providers are forced to absorb additional costs and price increases, with operators in the UK ‘the most significantly impacted.’
Data center providers that utilize all-in customer pricing models are bearing the cost of rising energy prices, said FTI, noting that the UK market has seen energy prices rise by more than 600 percent since January 2021. Germany (270 percent), France (400 percent), and the Netherlands (360) percent have also seen prices increase sharply. In the US, energy prices have risen by around 11 percent in the same time period.