Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Life

Energy crisis: Is the UK on the brink of power cuts and work stoppages?

A recent announcement from CEO of the National Grid, John Pettigrew, has revealed that Britons could be soon seeing the reintroduction of planned blackouts between 4pm and 7pm as a measure to conserve energy through the winter months

California's power grid is struggling to cope with the huge demand for air conditioning during an extreme heat
California's power grid is struggling to cope with the huge demand for air conditioning during an extreme heat - Copyright AFP Frederic J. BROWN
California's power grid is struggling to cope with the huge demand for air conditioning during an extreme heat - Copyright AFP Frederic J. BROWN

In response to the energy crisis in the U.K., planned ‘blackouts’ (deliberate cuts to power) could be introduced as an emergency measure by the government in order to conserve energy for the winter.

While such measures with no doubt be a last resort for the Conservative government (not least given Sunak’s Party’s precarious position in the opinion polls) they at least need to be weighed up by industry.

Business finance expert, Connor Campbell from NerdWallet has looked at the matter for Digital Journal together with the potential impact on businesses in the U.K.

Campbell begins by looking at the origins of the potential power cuts: “A recent announcement from CEO of the National Grid, John Pettigrew, has revealed that Britons could be soon seeing the reintroduction of planned blackouts between 4pm and 7pm as a measure to conserve energy through the winter months.”

Harking back to the days of another Conservative government under Edward Heath, Campbell finds: “This is an emergency measure that was previously only ever utilised in the 1970s to counteract power supply shortages and is a decision that will have a big impact on the U.K.’s homes and businesses.”

One of several measures introduced in the U.K. in 1973–1974 by Edward Heath’s Conservative government to conserve electricity was drops in power at certain times of the day and restricting some industries to functioning for only three days per week.

Turning his attention to 2022, Campbell considers: “With the threat of planned blackouts looming on the horizon, small businesses in the UK may be left wondering what they can expect from these power outages and how they can continue to work without a power supply.”

Campbell  adds that although some actions have been taken, deliberate power cuts are still a possibility “We have seen a lot of drastic measures being put into place in recent months to combat the ongoing energy crisis and, as Russian gas supplies to the UK have continued to plummet, it’s not too far-fetched to think that planned blackouts could be becoming more likely to join the list.”

Family homes and smaller businesses are likely to be hit hardest: “Whilst small businesses may be starting to panic about what impact three-hour blackouts could have on their ability to trade, it’s important to remember that these blackouts haven’t been put into place yet, nor are there any plans to introduce them unless absolutely necessary.”

As to when something might be enacted, Campbell  predicts: “As of right now, the National Grid has warned of blackouts but says that the current risk of having to use them is quite unlikely. We’ve seen the head of the National Grid, John Pettigrew, saying they’ll only consider three-hour blackouts if gas supplies run out during a cold snap.”

Furthermore, he forewarns: “If introduced, these blackouts will likely occur between 4pm and 7pm, towards the end of the business day when trade tends to cool off anyway in most cases. The blackouts would mean that the use of battery-powered devices and lighting would be essential, and working by-hand would become the standard during these power outages.”

This is likely to lead to different responses from firms, says Campbell: “Business owners with staff that work remotely are likely to need to become more flexible about deadlines, as work will be difficult to coordinate during power outages.”

In terms of how any power cuts might be handled, Campbell  says the options include: “In the event that power outages are put into effect, it’s likely that these power-cuts will roll on a power-block by block basis, so different areas of the country will be affected at different times. This also means that the same businesses are unlikely to be put into three hours of darkness each day.”

Mixing optimism with pragmatism, Campbell  closes: “Of course, we hope that these planned blackouts won’t need to be implemented at all. We would all like to see the winter go ahead as normal, without requiring ‘70s-style blackouts. But as the energy crisis continues to hit the UK’s energy supplies hard, due to cut-off gas supplies from Russia, it’s important that businesses prepare themselves for the worst case scenario.”

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:

Business

A new phishing campaign uses HTML attachments that abuse the Windows search protocol.

World

Too little has been done for too long. This may well be the first instalment of the payoff.

World

The most expensive city was found to be London, followed by Amsterdam, Chicago, Oslo and Edinburgh.

World

Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia speaks to reporters in Caracas on June 13, 2024 - Copyright MIZAN NEWS AGENCY/AFP/File Amir Abbas GHASEMIA...