In COVID-19 Britain it pays to run your washing machine on Sunday afternoon

With surplus electricity putting pressure on the UK's electrical grid, one utility is urging its customers to run appliances this weekend.

In COVID-19 Britain it pays to run your washing machine on Sunday afternoon

Coronavirus-related industrial slowdowns have seen electricity demand plummet throughout the world as grids struggle to handle the suddenly excessive supply of power.

In the U.K. — where electrical demand is expected to drop by a fifth this summer as shops and factories remain closed — there have been worries that the unused power could overwhelm the grid and cause blackouts. In response, operators are contemplating shutting down some renewable generation sources.

That’s going to be an even more pressing problem over the upcoming bank holiday weekend that marks the start of the summer season, when electricity consumption tends to drop.

In order to prevent grid instability, Octopus Energy, which buys power generated from renewables on the wholesale market, made its customers an usual offer this Friday — the company will pay people to use power.

“We will pay over 100,000 of our customers with smart meters to run the dishwasher, use their oven or watch TV this weekend,” Octopus CEO Greg Jackson told POLITICO. “If they were to charge an electric car, for instance, they’d make 35 pence and be able to travel 50 miles, which is great because traveling the same distance in a petrol car you’d pay about £6 to fuel up.”

The grid-based problems being experienced by the U.K. are likely to become increasingly common as power generation becomes greener.

Jackson explained that the first-of-its-kind scheme was seeking to find alternative ways to balance a sensitive power grid while also rewarding customers equipped with smart meters, which allows them to control their energy use. About 4 million smart meters have been installed in the U.K. and the goal is to have 85 percent of power customers equipped with them by 2024.

“With the smart meter technology we’re able to better manage power and empower customers to benefit from incentives available at specific hours, making the most of domestic household consumption at a moment when fewer factories and commercial surfaces are operating,” he said.

Jackson argued that if wind and solar farms were shut off due to power oversupply, that could end up spooking investors and harm future investments in Britain’s clean energy transition. “If we start wasting electrons, that transition will become more complicated.”

Julian Leslie, head of networks for the U.K.’s National Grid, said that the drop in demand caused by the pandemic had raised concerns about the stability of the grid.

While he said the electric power transmission network had “mechanisms in place to avoid emergency restrictions or system disturbances,” he added that customer-driven approaches like the one taken by Octopus could help soak up surplus power.

“As we roll out smart meters in the U.K., time of use tariffs that incentivize the use of low-carbon energy at off-peak hours could prove to be a useful tool if they’re used at a wide, predictable scale,” he said.

Depending on the success of the scheme, similar initiatives could be feasible in other energy markets that use smart meters, which would lead to a more efficient use of renewable power.

The grid-based problems being experienced by the U.K. are likely to become increasingly common as power generation becomes greener.

A study published by Imperial College London and electric utility Drax on Thursday showed that during the first three months of the year renewable energy sources provided more electricity than fossil fuels. Those findings line up with National Grid data — Leslie said there has been no coal-generated power since April 10, something that hasn’t happened since the Industrial Revolution.

Leslie said that solar and wind penetration had contributed to a “mindset shift” in Britain, where he said that after decades considering coal as a base load for power output, renewables were now being considered the base source to be “topped up.”

“There’s no reason why we as a system operator need to buy coal, and it doesn’t look like we’ll need to until the winter, when demand will likely rise again,” he said.

Source : Politico EU More   

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UK’s coronavirus quarantine in force from June 8

Travelers to Britain will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and face fines if they don't comply.

UK’s coronavirus quarantine in force from June 8

LONDON — People arriving in the U.K. from overseas will need to self-quarantine for 14 days from June 8, Home Secretary Priti Patel said Friday.

The new measures will apply to all residents and foreign nationals, with exemptions in place for truckers and freight workers, medical professionals working on the coronavirus response, and seasonal agricultural workers, who will be permitted to self-isolate on the property where they are working.

Those moving within the U.K.’s Common Travel Area with Ireland will also be exempt.

Those who breach their quarantine in England will face £1,000 fines or potential prosecution. While the new rules apply to the whole of the U.K., Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be responsible for their own enforcement.

All arriving passengers will have to fill in a form, before they arrive in the U.K., providing contact details and onward travel plans, so that they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, gets the virus.

The U.K.’s Border Force will be empowered to refuse entry to non-resident foreign nationals who refuse to comply. Failure to complete the “contact locator form” will be punished by a £100 fine, and public health authorities will carry out random checks in England to ensure compliance with the quarantine measures.

Anyone who cannot self-isolate at home, in a hotel, or with friends or family, will be required to stay in facilities organized by the government. Travelers are recommended to travel to their place of quarantine in personal transport, such as a car, where possible.

The U.K. measures comes as many EU countries are rethinking their quarantine requirements. Germany announced plans to loosen quarantine rules earlier this month and Italy is set to follow. France however introduced a voluntary two-week quarantine this week.

So-called “air bridges” — agreed between the U.K. and countries with a low rates of coronavirus infection where citizens are allowed to enter without quarantine — are still being considered by the government, but no such arrangements are yet in place. The overall policy, including the list of exemptions, will be reviewed every three weeks from the date the measures come into force.

“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave,” Patel said.  “I fully expect the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures. But we will take enforcement action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others.”

The U.K.’s plan for a quarantine regime was first announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 10. Explaining the decision to introduce the measures now — as the U.K. emerges from the peak of its coronavirus epidemic — John Aston, Home Office chief scientific adviser said: “The scientific advice so far has been clear: while there has been significant community transmission of the virus within the U.K. the impact of putting in place additional border restrictions would have been negligible to the spread of the virus.

“However, the spread of the virus within the U.K. is now lessening. We have been successful in getting the reproduction number R — the average number of new people infected by one infected person — below 1. As the number of infections within the U.K. drops, we must now manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from elsewhere.”

Source : Politico EU More   

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