Kosovo-Serbia row makes Europe clocks go slow

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Microwave oven
Image caption,
Electric clocks have been running slow due to an energy dispute

Are you running late for work and blaming your electric alarm clock?

Entsoe, the body representing electricity transmission operators across 25 European countries, said bedside clocks had slowed down by up to six minutes since mid-January.

Central heating timers and oven clocks are also affected - but not computers or smart phones.

Countries from Spain to Turkey and from Poland to the Netherlands are part of a large area in Europe linked together into an electricity grid that operates at a synchronised frequency. This frequency regulates time-keeping in certain devices.

The UK and some Nordic countries are not affected.

During the crisis period, Kosovo did not generate enough electricity to meet its needs.

According to Entsoe, Serbia is legally obliged to meet Kosovo's demand to keep the European grid stable.

But because Kosovo and Serbia are in dispute over the issue - and many more related to Kosovo's unilateral secession from Serbia 10 years ago - Serbia did not step in.

This failure to act on time forced the frequency to "deviate" - and the drop affected the clocks. Other countries that lost reserves amounting to 113 GWh are seeking compensation.

"The deviation stopped yesterday [Tuesday] when Kosovo generated the energy it needs," Entsoe spokeswoman Susanne Nies told the BBC.

Surplus energy would need to be generated and fed into the system over time for the balance to be redressed across the continent, Ms Nies said.

So yes, you can manually adjust your clocks - but they will automatically stop losing time once the grid stabilises.