UK Could Plunge into Darkness Over Energy Concerns

Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
3 minutes read

Russia’s illegal war with Ukraine has sparked an energy crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades. Because of the lack of transparency from the UK Government in how the sanctions on Russia will impact the country, there is now a massive wave of panic over the possibility of blackouts from November. If we had been informed about the hardships we’d face as a result of these imperative sanctions, a lot of fear could have been avoided.

The National Grid has issued a warning that areas of the UK may be plunged into darkness over the winter in a bid to conserve what energy we have. National Grid issued a statement saying that people will be paid to not use their appliances at peak times in order to maintain energy security for the country.

It has to be stressed that this is a worst-case scenario. It is an option if the UK is unable to import electricity from Europe. Our European neighbours will also be feeling the squeeze in terms of energy, so we might be worse off if they have no surplus. As such, households and businesses might face planned three-hour blackouts in this scenario.

These blackouts will be communicated at least a day ahead, according to National Grid, through their social media and on their website, and not all areas of the country will be affected at the same time. Blackouts will be rotated to different locations on different days, most likely at peak times from 4.00pm to 7.00pm.

While the blackouts come under the worst-case scenario, the other scenarios see people being rewarded for not using electricity at peak hours. There’s also emergency backup coal plants that may need to be fired up in order to ensure no blackouts take place.

The national grid is encouraging people to sign up with their energy supplier to a scheme that gives them money back on their bills to shift their energy usage off peak times. This could look like using the washing machine overnight or charging your EV at off-peak times. The scheme will go live next month at the start of November and the national grid expects the measure will avoid supply interruptions.

The government reaction to this announcement has been fairly strong. Due to how easily preventable this was through clear communication earlier in the year, they are doubling down on claims that this is not at all likely to happen. Nadhim Zahawi specified in a recent interview that the blackouts are extremely unlikely, but the UK needs to plan for every scenario.

While there have been calls, through the swathes of fear spreading throughout the country, for a campaign from the government to reduce household energy use, this has been rejected by Liz Truss. Such a campaign would cost upwards of £14 million, which, in light of how the economy has gone recently, is not in the interest of the government to spend.