The National Grid is preparing for blackouts 

Article posted

23rd Jan 2023

Read time

3-5 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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With the recent cold weather, the National Grid has been making sure that demand does not outweigh supply when it comes to power. This has included paying people to use less energy with the Demand Flexibility Scheme and keeping coal-fired power plants on standby.

People getting paid to use less energy.

Last year the National Grid announced that they were introducing a new flexibility scheme. In which they were going to pay customers to use less Energy.  Now more than a million businesses and household customers are signed up for the Demand flexibility Service (DFS).

This rewards businesses and domestic consumers for turning off appliances or reducing demand during specific times when energy demand is usually at its peak. More than 26 suppliers are now signed up for the scheme to try and help reduce the country’s energy demand and avoid the same price spikes we have seen over 2022. 

The DFS was introduced back in October to prevent power outages that the National Grid thought we would see over the winter. However, due to mild weather, we had more security in the UK than was originally thought.

With a cold spike hitting the UK last week, energy demand also grew. To avoid any price hikes the national grid has begun rolling this scheme out at the beginning of this week.  The service has been trailed successfully but not in a live situation before.

The ESO has stated that the introduction of this scheme is not because there are issues with any energy supplies in the UK but just to ensure that everyone gets the electricity they need.

Demand could rise with freezing temps across the UK. This service could outweigh the high demand ensuring energy markets don’t spike with an imbalance of supply and demand.


What does this mean for businesses?

The DFS could be good news for businesses as it means you could also save on your energy bills if you are eligible for this scheme. Even if you are not eligible for this scheme or your business operates outside of the high-demand hours, this could still reduce overall energy demand in the UK.

A balance between supply and demand means less chance of demand going over supply and causing blackouts.

Whilst this scheme will be less likely to cause a big difference in the price of energy in the UK it could reduce the number of blackouts we see.


Powerplants on standby

The drop in temperature has also meant that the National Grid has had to put 3 coal power generators on standby in case of a spike in demand despite the DFS.

3 power plants across the UK have been prepared to be used in case they are needed. The same powerplants were also prepared to be used back in December when most of the UK had snow. However, they were not needed as they are just prepared for precautionary reasons.

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