13 December 2022
The head of the National Grid has warned British households that blackouts may be shortly imposed between 4pm and 7pm. There are various sources which have slightly different views on this, but the consistent point is suggesting a 3 hour period of disruption.
Blackouts are the worst-case scenario. However, before reaching that point there are a few stages the UK would have to surpass to decide on before cutting the power off. These include delaying the closure of coal mining plants, heavy users being requested to limit their usage in peak hours and domestic customers being asked to restrict the use of high demand items such as ovens, washing machines and dishwashers in peak times.
If the stages prove unsuccessful and supplies are still not enough to meet demand, a series of rolling blackouts could be announced to manage the emergency situation.
What to expect
According to the Energy Network Association (ENA), blackouts would be largely sweeping involving almost all of the country including traffic lights going off, streetlights going off and power supplies to homes being cut.
Power cuts would be communicated in advance through government channels via local and national media and would usually be for three-hour blocks at a time. It is suggested that the public would receive 24 hour notice before this happens.
Certain “critical national infrastructure facilities will be exempt from the power cuts. These will be known as “protected sites”. There is an application process for a business to become a protected site through regional network operators during planned power outages.
In the meantime, there are some simple, pragmatic steps that can be taken by all users to help manage any outages
- Try and avoid the use of candles and go for rechargeable LED lighting instead.
- Use the timer on your home or business devices to operate outside of peak hours, eg dishwasher (industrial or domestic).
- Try and make it so that staff are not exposed to working in unlit and unsafe conditions.
- Keep any power banks charged up for usage on phones etc.
- Keep your laptops charged up!
- Have contingency plans in place to be able to work away from local power (eg libraries)
- IMPORTANT!!! Some alarm system and access control systems to business premises will fail to a safe condition if the power is cut. That means that all the doors on the system and premises will be unlocked and possibly open. This includes fire doors and security doors. If this happens, ensure that someone remains on site for security or you use external security. It may be cold and dark, so they will need some warmth and light. (LED lights, hot drinks, thermal clothing etc.)
- If you have battery power storage such as Powerwalls, try and ensure they get a forced charge before the power is cut to maintain systems for the three hour outage.
- Support work from home if possible for office functions.
- Consider generator rental, but demand for this may be locally very high.