THE NATIONAL GRID announced that it might have to roll out blackouts across the UK to prevent future power cuts during the cold months of winter.
This is the company’s way of responding to the lack of gas supply after Russia stopped its flow of gas into Europe.
What are rolling blackouts?
Rolling blackouts are the last resort for electricity companies to avoid a total blackout of the power system.
They create a rota which indicates which region of a specific place will be facing a blackout and for how long.
This way, the company saves on materials such as gas or coal, depending on which power station runs.
In the UK, the rolling blackouts will help power stations to give electricity to homes and businesses during the cold temperatures of winter.
When could rolling blackouts take place in the UK?
The National Grid is hoping that it wouldn’t have to resort to the UK blackouts if paying household turn down their heat and stop using washing machines at peak times.
Government documents showed how the blackouts would be rolled out as they split the different regions into “load blocks”.
Each block is given a letter, A to U, which you can find on your electricity bill.
Each block is given a different time on different days, so for example, if your home comes under block A, you would have a power cut on Mondays from 12:30am to 3:30am, Wednesdays from 3:30pm to 6:30pm and on Sundays from 12:30am to 3:30am.
The blackouts depend on where you live and how much electricity you use.
Blackouts could occur every day of the week in eight three-hour slots, with the first starting at 00:30 to 3:30am and ending at 9:30pm to 12.30am, according to the documents.
There’s no certainty there will be blackouts of course, as it depends on the gas supplies at the time and the demand on the network.
Why could blackouts happen in UK?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused turmoil across Europe’s energy market.
With many countries, including the UK, putting sanctions on Russia, in return they cut off the gas flow to Europe.
Since 40% of the UK’s electricity supply is generated from gas, the loss of gas import has hit power plants very hard.
To tackle a loss of imports from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, there are two gigawatts of coal-fired power plants on stand-by to fire up if needed to meet demand.
How to prepare for a blackout
You should prepare for a blackout just in case you need to spend three hours in the dark.
Make sure to unplug non-essential appliances like TVs, so that the electricity surge doesn’t fry the circuit when the power comes back on.
Find other sources of light as the blackouts are planned to roll out in the evening when it’s dark.
Make sure you have a torch and spare batteries in a safe, accessible place.
Avoid candles however, as they are a fire hazard.
Don’t forget to charge your devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets so that you’ll have something to pass time while you wait for the power to get back on.
It is important to also list down important contacts, just in case your phone battery dies and you need someone else to contact another person.
Make sure to keep a first aid kit around and if you need any medical device which requires electricity, make sure to speak to your doctor about finding another solution.
With the blackouts meant to roll out as temperatures drop, make sure to find ways to keep warm.
Prepare some blankets and thick clothes to keep you warm during the blackout, and if possible, prepare a thermos flask with some hot beverages in it.
When it comes to your garage, make sure you know how to run the manual release, just in case you have to take your car out.
It would be best to make sure that the fuel in the car is full, just in case you need to urgently go out and keep some cash handy as card machines won’t work without electricity.
Also, if you have a stair lift, make sure that you have some sort of battery to help it run or speak to the manufacturer to help you get it sorted.
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