HOUSEHOLDS across the UK could lose power for up to three hours at a time this winter if gas supplies run extremely low, the National Grid has warned. 

The company said it was an “unlikely” scenario but added that supply interruptions were a possibility should the energy crisis continue to escalate.

Cuts would likely occur at peak times such as the morning or early evening and customers would be warned in advance. 

However, as a “base case”, National Grid expects homes won’t face any problems. 

The National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) – which manages the grid in Scotland, Wales and England – said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had created “unprecedented turmoil and volatility” in the energy markets”.

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Gas flows from Russia to Europe have all been cut off, leaving countries struggling to find alternative supplies. 

Although Britain is less reliant on Russian gas than mainland Europe, National Grid has warned that it could still suffer knock-on effects from any shortfalls in supplies on the continent. 

In a report, National Grid ESO laid out three potential scenarios for what might happen this winter. 

Its central view remains that there will be enough gas to provide Britain with similar levels of electricity to previous winters.

However, it has also modelled two more worrying scenarios. The first is that the energy crisis would mean Britain is unable to import electricity from France, Belgium or the Netherlands, although power would still flow from Norway. 

Without taking action, the National Grid ESO warned this could lead to shortages. 

However, it said it had made deals with three power companies – EDF, Drax and Uniper to make sure additional coal-fired power generators were on standby in case they are needed. 

It will also launch a scheme from November 1 which incentivises businesses and households to reduce their electricity use at key times. 

With these measures in place, the grid believes supply interruptions would be avoided. 

However, it said it had modelled a second more extreme scenario in which not enough gas is available in Britain. 

In that event, distributors would be forced to cut off electricity to homes and firms for up to three hours during the day. 

The cuts would possibly occur in the morning or, more likely, between 4 and 7pm and they would be rotated so not all areas of the country were affected at the same time. 

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National Grid ESO said: “In the unlikely event we were in this situation, it would mean that some customers could be without power for pre-defined periods during a day – generally this is assumed to be for three-hour blocks.”

The number of people cut off would depend on how many gas-power stations were forced to shut down because of a shortage of gas, it added. 

Vital infrastructure such as hospitals would be excluded from the cuts.