May 11, 2020

Lower electricity use in lockdown leads to problems for National Grid

The team at the National Grid Electricity System Operator, the company charged with managing Britain's grid, have been working harder than ever during the pandemic to keep the system stable and avoid blackouts. National Grid said it expected electricity demand over the early May bank holiday weekend to match the record low of 15 gigawatts hit for a short period during the Easter weekend, which was well beneath the 18GW to 19GW minimum levels recorded at the same time last year. "We have a variety of tools and processes - and a lot of experience - to draw on to operate the grid in low-demand conditions and do not anticipate any issue continuing to reliably supply electricity," National Grid said, although one senior director admitted it was "Hard work for the guys in the control room" to manage record troughs. National Grid must keep the frequency within a band of 49.5 hertz to 50.5 hertz to ensure the grid is stable, although it has to surge or plunge some way outside those levels before customers or power plants are cut off. National Grid has also warned it may for the first time have to issue a national plea to power stations to cut supply if problems of low demand persist.

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