But the closure of coal-fired power plants and the gradual closure of the country’s aging nuclear plants have made the UK dependent on gas, which generates about 40 percent of the country’s electricity, far more than any other fuel. (In France, by contrast, nuclear plants generate about 70 percent of the country’s electricity.) It didn’t help that the winds that power Britain’s wind turbines, which on average generate about 20 percent of the country’s electricity, have been unusually weak in recent months. …
“This success in climate policy is starting to bite again,” said Mr Gloystein.
Britain is not yet advanced enough in its clean energy transition to avoid a sharp jump in global gas prices.
“At the moment, we really don’t have enough renewable energy to really break through,” said Martin Young, an energy analyst at Investec, a securities firm. “Gas usually sets the price.” High carbon taxes in the UK are also driving up energy costs, he said.
A fire that damaged a large cable carrying electricity from France exacerbated the situation. And, unlike other European countries, the UK has not invested in gas storage facilities, instead allowing one such large storage facility to close in 2017.
Are consumers getting relief?
Rising wholesale electricity prices are being passed on to homeowners, pushing up budgets and forcing governments to intervene. In Spain, the government recently announced that it would use the profits generated from wind and solar power generation to offset high gas prices for consumers.
About 15 million UK households have recently been hit by a 12 percent increase in energy prices as part of a government program to curb price surges. Restricted rates are revised every six months; The next review, which takes place in April, is expected to lead to an even bigger leap forward.
Another challenge that homeowners face is that many of the electricity suppliers that offered their customers good deals were unable to meet their current pricing commitments. Many of these relatively small companies have collapsed in recent weeks, and their roughly 1.7 million customer accounts are being auctioned to stronger companies. No one will lose power over these business failures, but ultimately these customers will pay higher rates, and companies that take on customers will be able to pass the additional costs onto bill payers.