October was quite exceptionally warm in N.Europe. November has also been warm, but in the UK also extremely wet; so the heating season really started this month. And already we've had two 'capacity mechanism' warnings from the National Grid. I realise many of you won't know exactly what that means: it certainly doesn't mean "blackouts imminent" - the whole point is that it puts providers of standby power on notice - but equally, it's very rare, and there's never been a November with two such warnings.
Both came about for the same reason: wind generation subsided fairly suddenly, and to a great extent than forecast. This week's was quite spectacular, in that the wind output fairly collapsed - to zero in the afternoon and for the rest of the day. We'd been exporting electricity at the start of the day but that switched to importing for a bit of top-up: needless to say, gas-fired generators carried by far the greatest part of the load, with some nuke and biomass, and a tiny amount of shortly-to-be extinct coal.
And it's not even cold yet. Granted, Europe as a whole is better placed as regards availability of gas than might have been foreseen back in June. But we're all in trouble if a serious cold snap comes along, both in terms of wholesale energy prices and absolute energy availability. Prices are already surging. Industry will be switched off in many countries, with the UK being better placed than most (FWIW).
Yet we still find people airily saying we don't need gas. Possibly the highest profile example, and the most irresponsible, is Ed Miliband, who announced at his Party Conference that we could dispense with gas for all but 0.3% of the time, by 2030. He's lying through his teeth, his slim defence being that he'd commissioned some "modelling" which told him this was possible. Well, in the real world, it ain't.
Will this all come to some dramatic, sticky end - if not this year, then shortly thereafter? I doubt it. Rather, it'll be years of messy, pragmatic muddling through - which, as it happens, the UK is quite good at. Targets of all kind will be missed, but it won't have to matter. Timetables will simply slip, and kit will be refurbished for yet another season. How much egg will end up on politicians' faces? Not much. Greta will be very upset, of course; but most people just want to stay warm.