Decision to ration energy this winter could be out of the prime minister's hands

It is the National Grid's job to consider and prepare for worst-case scenarios.

However, its most recent winter outlook report will alarm many.

It suggests that a series of circumstances could combine this winter to result in planned three-hour blackouts for British homes in order to preserve supplies and maintain critical infrastructure.

It is hoped that contingency measures like firing up coal plants to fill any supply gaps and paying consumers to use electricity outside of peak demand times will prevent us from getting into an emergency situation in the first place.

But there is a possibility that will not be enough.

If the UK suffers a period of very cold and still weather, demand will go up and our ability to produce wind power will reduce.

If this combines with a reduction or cessation of electricity imports from Norway and others, as well as a shortage of gas imports, either from pipelines via Europe or LNG shipments, then we are faced with a supply shortage.

None of these things is out of the question.

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Analysts say that if the energy crisis escalates across the continent, perhaps because of Russia further throttling gas supply or an unusual run of cold weather that empties reserves, it's possible that our European neighbours will be too concerned with solving their own energy emergencies to export anything to the UK.

Experts also say that there are an uncomfortable number of other issues outside of the UK's control, like the potential for ongoing problems with the French nuclear fleet, or more damage or sabotage to energy infrastructures like interconnectors or gas lines, as we've seen recently with the Nord Stream pipes.

Liz Truss has been reluctant to talk about consumer behaviour change and has promised that energy will not be rationed this winter.

But if all of these things come to pass, the decision will be out of her hands.