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Lights won't go out if England win the World Cup, says energy minister

Lights won't go out if England win the World Cup, says energy minister

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on June 10, 2014

Britain has enough energy capacity to keep televisions running in the unlikely scenario that England win the World Cup, the energy secretary will say today.

National Grid has assured Ed Davey that it can cope with a potential record domestic energy surge if Roy Hodgson's team makes the final or wins in Brazil.

Davey will make his assurances on the World Cup while warning that Britain may have to use "last resort" measures to avoid winter blackouts in the next two years. Businesses will be paid to shut down at peak times so that there is enough energy for households.

Highly viewed events such as the World Cup cause surges in demand for electricity, especially if they are held during the evening peak when cookers and other appliances are running.

If England reach the final, which kicks off at 8pm UK time on Sunday 13 July, demand could outstrip royal weddings and beat the previous record when the 1999 solar eclipse caused a surge equivalent to 1.3m kettles being turned on simultaneously.

Davey will tell the Economist's UK energy conference: "Can you imagine what would happen if, at a crunch moment, perhaps when England are beating Brazil three nil, and our brave boys trot off for half-time, there was a mass blackout?

"The peak of all peaks, ever, arrives, and our electricity system falls over."

"I can report that National Grid have assured me that the UK has enough electricity generating capacity ready to meet any World Cup spike - through the group stages and beyond to history."

Bookmakers' odds rate such a grid-straining surge as even less likely. William Hill has England at 25-1 to win the tournament – joint sixth favourite with five other teams and lagging far behind favourites Brazil at 3-1 and Argentina as the second most likely victors at 4-1.

National Grid said it would invite businesses to bid for inclusion in aprogramme that pays them to reduce their power use on winter weekday evenings.

The company will seek large energy users with flexibility to reduce their usage for the next two winters. National Grid also wants to encourage energy generators to make their power stations available when they might otherwise be inactive.

Tenders may be required for two more winters but National Grid expects possible shortfalls to be eliminated by the winter of 2018/19. By then the government's plan for a capacity market should be working fully.

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, the energy regulator, said: "An early indication of our analysis shows that the risks to security of electricity supplies for next winter are going to be very similar to last winter. And while no electricity system anywhere in the world can give a 100% guarantee we are confident that National Grid has the right levers to keep the lights on for households this winter."

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