Britain’s National Grid confident of meeting winter demand

Britain will have enough gas and electricity capacity to keep the lights on this Christmas, the boss of National Grid (NG.L) said on Thursday, allaying fears of an energy crisis amid surging prices and demand.

Energy prices in Britain have soared to record highs, causing nearly two dozen energy suppliers to collapse and some industrial firms to reduce output.

“Obviously, things can happen. That’s the nature of energy markets and our job is to monitor that,” National Grid Chief Executive John Pettigrew said in an interview. “But based on our winter outlook reports, we see sufficient capacity both on the gas and on the electricity side.”

The remarks echo those in National Gas’ winter gas outlook released in October, when it said there was enough supply to meet demand this winter.

European wholesale gas and power prices have risen sharply due to lower-than-usual gas stocks this summer, reduced supply from Russia and the onset of colder temperatures.

In the UK, high wholesale gas prices have contributed to an increase in wholesale power prices, as gas plants account for around 40% of electricity generation in Britain.

Pettigrew’s comments came as National Grid reported half-year financial results and lifted its annual earnings outlook, benefiting from an early commissioning of the North Sea Link electricity interconnector between Britain and Norway.

Annual underlying earnings per share growth would come in “significantly above” the top end of its 5%-7% outlook range, National Grid said. The forecast was also driven by higher auction prices across its interconnector portfolio.

The North Sea Link power cable worth 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) began commercial operations early last month and is expected to improve the UK’s energy security.

National Grid’s half-yearly underlying operating profit from continuing operations jumped 47% to 1.41 billion pounds and the firm declared an interim dividend of 17.21 pence per share.

($1 = 0.7409 pounds)