TWO coal-fired power stations placed on “standby” during the energy crisis have begun producing electricity for UK homes for the first time this winter.

The generation sites in West Burton, Lincolnshire, run by French energy giant EDF, started producing electricity on Tuesday afternoon.

It came as strikes in France reduced the amount of electricity the country could supply to Britain through undersea cables. Wind electricity production is also unusually low.

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The Government approached several coal-fired power stations last year that were set to close down, asking them to be on standby this winter amid an energy supply crunch.

The plants have been warmed up a few times so far this winter on cold, overcast and still days. But Tuesday is the first time they have started to produce electricity.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has to ensure there is always more electricity generation available than it expects households to use.

It aims to keep a comfortable margin between the two, which led to the coal plants being activated on Tuesday – with blackouts in any parts of the UK said to be “highly unlikely”.

The ESO had also issued a so-called electricity margin notice, but cancelled it at around 3.30pm as it realised that it had enough power on the grid to meet demand.

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This is designed to let generators know that the margins are tighter than normal and to ask them if they can supply extra electricity.

“An electricity margin notice (EMN) has been issued to the market,” ESO said earlier in the day.

“This is a routine tool that we use most winters, and means we are asking generators to make available any additional generation capacity they may have. The EMN does not mean electricity supply is at risk.”