Royal Wedding triggered record energy demand on National Grid

by ClickGreen staff. Published Sat 30 Apr 2011 13:23, Last updated: 2011-04-30
National Grid's control room managed the demand of a million kettles being turned on at once
National Grid's control room managed the demand of a million kettles being turned on at once

The Royal Wedding created record power demand for a non-sporting news event, according to the statistics released by the UK's National Grid.

TV viewers around the nation triggered huge surges and dips in electricity demand as they tuned in to each stage of the historic event.

The surge of 2,400 MW when television coverage passes back to the studio after the procession to Buckingham Palace is the fourth highest ever surge in demand due to a television programme.

The top three surges in demand are:

•The record of 2,800 MW set at the end of the nail-biting penalty shoot-out after England’s World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990

•The 2,600 MW surge in demand after a 1984 episode of The Thornbirds

•The 2,570 MW surge at half-time during England’s semi-final match against Brazil in the 2002 World Cup

Demand falls when people stop what they are doing to watch television and then surges again at natural breaks in the proceedings when everyone does things they have been putting off, such as boiling the kettle, at once.

At key points during the ceremony there was:

•A 1500 Megawatt (MW) drop in demand as Kate travelled by car to Westminster Abbey

•A 500 MW drop as the couple exchanged their vows

•A 1,000 MW surge as people took a quick break from the proceedings when the service then continued

•An 800 MW surge as the couple moved to sign the register

•A 1300 MW drop during the procession through the cathedral and out onto steps followed by the procession to the palace

•A 2,400 MW surge, equivalent to nearly a million kettles being switched on, as live coverage switches back to the studio at 12.40 once the couple reach the palace

•A huge 3,000 MW drop across the period when the couple then appear on the balcony and the RAF flypast takes place

•A 1,000 MW surge as television coverage finishes

This impact in demand was broadly in line with National Grid’s forecast, although the final surge was larger than expected, reflecting the huge interest in the event. The 2,400 MW surge compares to the 1,800 MW surge seen during Charles and Diana’s wedding, and the 750 MW surge seen during Edward and Sophie’s ceremony.

John Carnwath, Power System Manager in National Grid’s control room during the ceremony, said: “It’s been a fascinating day to work in our control room, seeing the huge impact on electricity demand of millions of people across Britain being brought together by William and Kate’s wedding. We’re proud of the role we have played in helping the nation share their big day.”



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