UK’s electricity industry preparing for Covid-19 Impact

GlobalData Energy 18 March 2020 (Last Updated March 20th, 2020 14:40)

UK’s electricity industry preparing for Covid-19 Impact

The UK Government is adopting all measures to tackle the adverse situation that might arise due to the ongoing spread of Covid-19 virus. This includes The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 that have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission by keeping individuals in isolation.

The government also issued a ‘Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection’ on March 12. As of 9am on 16 March, 44,105 people had been tested in the UK, of which 42,562 were confirmed to be negative and 1,543 tested positive. The risk level to the UK has been raised to high.

As many of the working population are preparing to work from home, the electricity demand pattern is expected to take a new shape. It is widely anticipated that the electricity demand in the coming weeks and months will largely resemble the consumption pattern on the weekends as more people stay at home.

According to an analysis by National Grid Electricity System Operator, demand across the UK would reduce if people continue to work remotely from home for another two months. It further anticipates the demand from the residential sector to increase and there could a sharp fall in the demand from commercial and industrial sectors. As a proactive measure, the National Grid has restricted its regular workforce from entering the control rooms to prevent any possible spread of the virus to its emergency response and critical operations teams.

Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents UK electricity and gas network companies, has made a recent announcement that well-practised contingency plans are in place to ensure the companies render service continuously across the areas they serve. This includes adequate training of the manpower and systems needed to tackle outages or peak demand situations. The contingency plan also includes temporary camping at a specified place as required, where critical response teams will have adequate spares, food and bedding to ensure smooth system operations.

According to the latest report by the UK’s electricity regulator, the total annual electricity demand in the country stood at 352.1TWh. In terms of proportions of electricity demand by the consumer category, domestic demand has the largest share at 30%, followed by industrial demand at 26% and commercial demand at 21%.

The domestic demand includes residential customers whose consumption is generally high in the evening when most people are back from work. The consumption of the commercial and industrial sectors is high during the day. Experts believe that the total demand across the country will fall in coming days, mainly factored by the considerable reduction in industrial and commercial demand, which would likely be higher than the increase in domestic demand as people stay at home.

Globally, Covid-19 has affected the sourcing and supply chains across the power industry. Most of the Asian suppliers of renewable sector equipment are operating with a reduced load, and the developers in India, South Korea, Central Europe and others are witnessing logistical delays. However, the industry is not able to predict the long-term impact of Covid-19.