I am not one to shout "the lights are going out" too readily, because the government will always make the Grid do whatever it takes, however costly & stupid, to keep homes and hospitals supplied. But while everyone has been marvelling at Olympic success / Corbyn lunacy / mass drownings on the beaches of Britain, over the summer we have been tipped off that there could be some real problems for power and gas supplies this coming winter.
On the power side, the pace of closures of coal-fired power stations this spring really caught the authorities by surprise. We were always going to be down to about 1% capacity margin in the depths of next winter, and now it's going to be negative - even after the Grid has bribed a couple of the coal generators to stay open for just one more season, which is the only thing they have come up with.
And on the gas side, the UK's only really big gas storage facility (the large offshore Rough field) has run into serious problems of old age. Centrica (the owner) is nursing it back into a few more years of reduced operations, hopefully in time for winter: but we know of old what happens in a cold snap when Rough falters - it's at very least a peaky spot-price spike. We just about got away with it during a cold snap three years ago. Next winter, anything much more than a week's worth of extreme cold and we may be (a) completely reliant on some fortuitous LNG cargos becoming available in the Atlantic (= not so cold in Spain + Eastern USA), or (b) stuffed.
[Rough isn't the only large and ageing provider of gas flexibility in winter we won't be able to rely on in future: the mighty Groningen field in the Netherlands, Europe's biggest for over 50 years (sic), and the very large Norwegian Troll are both ailing. In the Dutch case, the hammering of Groningen for decade after decade is now causing fairly noticeable earthquakes.]
The real killer will be winter 2017-18. This game of keeping coal plant on life-support cannot be repeated indefinitely: it's in the nature of large capital assets of the steel'n'concrete variety that once they've been fingered for closure, discretionary maintenance work stops and the whole thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Recall also that back in 2008 the EDF Chief Frog said that by 2017 we'd be cooking Christmas lunch on Hinkley Point C electricity, because otherwise the lights would be going out. Well, he lied about HPC but otherwise he knew that of which he spoke.
Yes folks, it was broadly forseeable way back then (which was when we started blogging about it!), but neither Labour nor the Coalition did anything serious about it. Takes a while for those plump Xmas turkeys to come home to roost, but they are on the horizon - and they may escape the lunch table altogether.