More than a million households in England, Scotland and Wales will be paid to cut back their electricity usage between 5pm and 6pm today to prevent blackouts.
It comes amid warnings that energy supplies will be ‘tighter than normal’ on one of the coldest days of the year — but why is Britain so short of energy?
Experts say it is a ‘perfect storm’ of the cold weather ramping up demand, lower than usual wind power and uncertainty over whether the UK will be able to import the power it needs via undersea cables from Europe.
MailOnline delves deeper into the crisis and looks at whether this is now an annual trend.
One of the main reasons is the cold snap that has blanketed Britain over the past week, leading to an increase in the demand for power from UK households and businesses.
Not only this, but with conditions being calmer, there has been less wind power generated.
On some days wind can provide more than half the country’s electricity, while just two weeks ago blustery conditions saw the UK break its record for wind power generation.
This was helped by a growing number of turbines across Britain.
Such has been the impact of strong wind speeds in recent weeks that it helped slash Britain’s reliance on natural gas for electricity, which in turn saw gas prices fall close to their pre-Ukraine war level.
But with calmer conditions over the last seven days, and more on the way, wind power is forecast to be lower than usual.
So much so that on Saturday it provided less than a quarter of Britain’s electricity, meaning more natural gas had to be used to prop up demand, which in turn has been higher because of the cold weather.
It is also unclear whether the UK will be able to import the power it needs via undersea cables from Europe.
Experts have previously expressed fears that the UK will face challenges getting gas from storage sites in Europe this winter, with countries on the continent facing their own supply crunch due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Is Russia to blame?
Sort of, but there are many other factors.
Ever since it invaded Ukraine, the Kremlin has reduced energy supplies to Europe in response to what it says are punitive economic sanctions imposed on it by the West.
Nord Stream 1, Russia’s largest gas pipeline to Europe, was closed indefinitely last September after a number of leaks were found in it.
EU leaders said the leaks were caused deliberately, but the Kremlin has denied being to blame.
Nord Stream 1 would normally supply European Union states with about 35 per cent of all the gas they import from Russia.
While the UK does not itself rely on Russia for oil and gas, any disruption to the EU – or international supplies on the whole – causes a widespread impact that has a knock-on effect on Britain.