England braces for power surges

2010-06-11 08:09

London - Britain's electricity network said Friday it was bracing itself for record-breaking power surges should England do well in the football World Cup.

The National Grid said it could see a 3 000-megawatt increase - the equivalent to 1.2 million kettles being turned on at the same time in this nation of tea-drinkers - if England play must-see matches in the latter stages in South Africa.

They were preparing for huge surges at half-time and full-time, as people head to the fridge for another beer or the kettle for a hot drink.

The phenomenon, called TV pick-up, occurs most days during popular programmes, but big football matches trigger a much greater demand.

The expected increase in electricity usage for England's opening Group C game against the United States on Saturday is 1 200 megawatts at half-time and around 1 100 megawatts at the final whistle.

Should England reach the final and the game goes to penalties, the predicted surge would beat the previous record for a television programme, set after England went out to West Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-finals.

"Making sure that demand is met is down to the skill of the forecasting team and also the engineers in the control centre who do the second-by-second balancing of demand and supply," said Jon Fenn, National Grid's electricity operations manager.

"It must be one of the few jobs where watching World Cup matches is essential to your work rather than a distraction, because we need to know to the second when half time and full time occur to be ready for the surges in demand."

 - AFP