National Grid has started preparations for the World Cup to make sure TV viewers over the UK won’t knock out the power grid when making coffee in half time breaks.
The company, managing the high-voltage electric power transmission network across the UK, has started analysing data from previous big games to help the engineers predict consumers’ behaviour. To get even better insight, National Grid is asking the public to fill out a short survey to learn where and how the fans will be watching the games.
“We’ll be working throughout the tournament to make sure electricity supply and demand is balanced from kick-off until after the final whistle,” said John Young, Energy Forecasting Analyst at National Grid.
“That will mean our engineers and forecasters keeping a close eye on what’s happening out in Brazil but we also want to hear from football fans across the country to find out how and where they will watch the big games.”
The engineers need to understand the electricity consumption surges, known as TV pickups that take place when a large number of people across the UK collectively switch on kettles and lights during a break in programming or after a major event, like a big cup final or the climax of a major soap storyline.
The pickup that followed the penalty shootout in 1990 against West Germany is the biggest that National Grid has ever had to manage. At 2,800MW it represented the equivalent of over 1.1million kettles being switched on. So, while England’s Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed to hit the back of the net, National Grid’s management of the electricity system had to be spot on.
As operator of the electricity transmission system in Great Britain, National Grid manages these surges by lining up power stations in advance, to offer an immediate response when needed.