This week is the time when companies are most likely to suffer energy blackouts, according to the National Grid
Experts at the National Grid have predicted that this week (w/c Monday 11 January) is the most likely period that the nation’s energy needs will exceed its power supply – with a wafer-thin margin of around 1.2 per cent possible (usually, around 20 per cent is considered comfortable).
Worst-case scenario? The UK will be plunged into darkness because the nation’s energy demands are outstripped by its energy reserves. According to documents seen by Private Eye, if such a blackout does occur, then the government has a contingency plan. Businesses won’t be able to use landline phones, mobile phones could only be used for making calls (and not checking emails the second you wake up), there would be no public transport and around two-thirds of petrol stations would remain closed.
However, despite energy regulator Ofgem stating, “We’re confident that National Grid has the levers to manage the electricity system even in the most testing conditions,” last November the National Grid asked companies to reduce their electricity usage to avoid blackouts. Using “last resort” emergency powers, it requested companies lower their power demand immediately, issuing a demand-side balancing reserve (DSBR) notice to firms who had previously signed a contract to take part in the demand reduction scheme. This was mostly achieved by companies switching off needless air-conditioning. According to the National Grid, these measures showed that the system was performing as it should be.
Last October, the National Grid warned the risk of blackouts this winter were at its highest for a decade.
Businesses taking the threat seriously this week should consider preparing for mass remote working and the supplying of portable smartphone chargers. However, given the fact that the UK has just experienced one of the mildest Decembers on record and the Met Office has predicted a balmy-for-January 9 °C this week, the candles can probably stay at the back of the storeroom cupboard for now.