The National Grid could have to pay for power generators to turn down energy supplies during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, as the public stops work and heads outside for street parties.
Its division responsible for keeping the lights on is expecting power demand in the UK to plummet to its lowest annual level during the four-day weekend created to mark the occasion, from June 2-5.
Low power demand can be a serious issue for the grid, as supply and demand have to be constantly balanced and not all stations are able to dial up or down quickly.
This means there is a risk of power cuts if there is too much or too little supply.
The growth of weather-dependent renewable sources has wind and solar has made balancing supplies more difficult, with output harder to forecast.
National Grid ESO – the legally separate part of National Grid which balances supply and demand – does not expect difficulties, and has revealed some generators will already be offline during the Jubilee weekend for other reasons.
In its annual report looking ahead to summer electricity supplies, it said: “Bank holiday weekends typically see low demand as more people are on holiday and economic activity turns down, and so minimum transmission demand is expected to occur over this weekend.
It also suggested it had the tools to balance supplies if the weather was “unusual”, referring to paying generators to turn off or using batteries to store excess power.
Overall, National Grid ESO expects power demand this summer to be similar to that in the summer of 2021.
The division is set to enter public hands later by 2024 – being pulled out of National Grid and turned into a new, state-owned body with a wider remit to oversee the energy system.