“The UK’s National Grid Plc is preparing for a possible power crunch in January as several planned nuclear outages coincide with peak winter demand.

Electricity consumption is projected to climb to a high during the first two weeks of January, just as nuclear availability is forecast to drop, according to National Grid’s winter outlook report published Thursday. Blackouts are a less likely than last winter but can’t be ruled out, the grid’s Electricity Supply Operator said.”

Analyst Comment: Europe faces similar risks. Although stores and supply of nat gas has expanded since last year, a cold winter could lead to mass power shortages at at least rising prices. Last year a mild winter still drove up energy prices to the point where energy-intensive businesses closed down. Some industrial operations moved to China and the US. Many out-of-season growers shut down winter operations resulting in produce shortages.