Cutting energy to avoid blackouts to become the norm in Britain

UK Wind Farm - Image Riekelt Hakvoort /

Avoiding blackouts by cutting energy use “is likely how we’re all going to operate in the future” according to the head of markets for the UK´s National Grid.

A report by Sky News on Friday, February 3 said that the scheme whereby customers volunteer to use less electricity had proven effective and had already been used twice this winter.

The National Grid´s Claire Dykta said that the scheme was an effective “insurance policy” and one that would be important as the country moves to clean renewable energy.

She said: “Demand flexibility is going to be a really important component of our energy supply mix going forward and it will grow and grow as something that we all get used to.

“Once we’ve got electric cars and we don’t have gas boilers anymore, we’re going to be using energy very differently from how we use it today. Consumers being able to shift their demand is likely how we’re all going to operate in the future.”

Those that have signed up to the voluntary scheme have said that they are happy to save electricity if it means someone else who needs it more is able to continue as normal.

One customer told Sky News that she had saved around £4 in one session adding that: “Primarily, it’s about avoiding blackouts for people who need the electricity, such as families with young children, elderly or disabled people. If I can just do a little bit and it helps them then that’s everything for me,” Wendy said.

“I’m not worried about the money, it’s not about that. Thinking about the war days, they dug for England, they made do and mended and if just switching the power off for one hour is a help to other people, I’m happy to do it.”

Dykta continued saying: “I think one thing we should be really clear about is that when we talk about this Demand Flexibility Service and what it means, it’s about shifting your energy-intensive appliances so your tumble dryer or your washing machine or your electric oven – and using those at different times.

“It’s not about switching everything off and sitting in the dark.

“Great Britain is on a journey to a high renewables green system. We’re further along than a lot of others, so demand flexibility is a step on that journey.”

Although the UK government hasn´t called on consumers to reduce their electricity consumption as they have in Europe, the industry itself has made efforts to even out usage.

E.ON Chief Executive Michael Lewis says that customers are willing to make the change to a more flexible arrangement particularly if it helps to keep prices down and the lights on.

He added that people also understand the need to shift away from fossil fuels and that may require some adjustment in their usage. But he said ditching the current model will take “huge national investment and a huge national effort.”

The UK government is aiming to decarbonise by 2035 but some experts are concerned that the technology is either not sufficiently developed, or currently too expensive to make supply affordable.

There are also concerns about the consistency of supply.

Currently, the UK´s power supply is supplemented by France and that requirement could increase if the government enforces its legislation that requires all coal-fired power stations to close by October 2024.

The UK government blames Russia´s illegal invasion of Ukraine for the problem, however, many point to the country´s reliance on foreign energy supplies as being a large part of the problem.

The invasion has, however, sparked the country into action as energy suppliers say cutting energy to avoid blackouts is to become the norm in Britain

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]