ESO Winter Outlook 2023/2024

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  • The Winter Outlook sets out our expectations for Great Britain’s electricity supply and demand across the 2023-2024 winter period.
  • Under our central scenario, we expect a de-rated margin of 4.4 GW or 7.4%, which is slightly higher than last year’s 3.7GW and broadly in line with recent winters.
  • A combination of factors have influenced the slightly higher margins for this winter, including more generation being available as well as increased levels of battery storage and demand-side response.  
  • We may use our operational tools, including the use of system notices some days.
  • Our innovative Demand Flexibility Service returns this winter, subject to regulatory approval, to incentivise customers to reduce energy consumption when margins are tightest.

We’ve published our Winter Outlook for the 2023/2024 winter. Our modelling forecasts an operational de-rated margin (the minimum excess available electricity beyond that needed to operate the network safely) of 4.4 GW or 7.4%. This de-rated margin is slightly higher than last year’s 3.7GW and remains broadly in line with recent winters.

These slightly improved margins represent the changing landscape across the wider British and European energy markets, compared to twelve months ago. Both European gas storage and French nuclear power have greater availability than last year, helping to support electricity and gas flows across both Europe and to Great Britain.

Across last winter, the energy markets across Europe performed as expected, with coordination and cooperation across European electricity systems helping to manage consumer demand across the period. We’ll also continue to work closely with neighbouring transmission system operators in Europe, to provide reciprocal support to each other that benefits all electricity customers.

Given the continued uncertainty presented by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, as a prudent system operator, we cannot completely discount risks of credible events occurring. It is therefore important that the energy industry continues as usual to prepare and plan for a wide range of eventualities.

This winter, we’re reintroducing the innovative Demand Flexibility Service, to incentivise customers to reduce consumption at periods when margins are tightest.

Last winter, the Demand Flexibility Service successfully saved over 3,300MWh across 22 events, enough to power nearly 10 million homes. This year, we’re committed to developing the Demand Flexibility Service even further and are keen for more consumers and businesses, large and small, to take advantage of this opportunity to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint.

Head of National Control Craig Dyke

“Today’s report illustrates the different position we find ourselves in, compared to twelve months ago. The energy markets across Europe have responded, bolstering gas and electricity storage and supplies ahead of this winter.”

“While this is reflected in slightly higher operational margins for this winter, we and the rest of the energy industry will as always continue to prepare for a range of potential eventualities, so that we are fully prepared for any changes in circumstances this winter.”

“To support our preparations, we have chosen to reintroduce the Demand Flexibility Service for this winter, following the impressive response from consumers and businesses to act as virtual power plants. Following regulatory approval, we will be publishing more details on how households and businesses can get involved and participate in the service this year.”

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