fridges containing the world cup

The National Grid vs. the World Cup Cuppa

Jun 18, 2018 - 2min read

As the nation prepares itself for England’s first match in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia tonight; the National Grid is bracing itself for an expected 500 megawatt electricity surge during half-time in the game against Tunisia, as supporters race to the fridge for a cold one or to stick the kettle on for a cuppa! According to The Guardian, this is “equivalent to 23 million fridge doors opening at once, as fans reach for another beer”.

Duncan Burt, the National Grid’s director of system operations, said: “It’s our job as system operator to balance the country’s supply and demand of electricity second-by-second in real time and transport it from where it is generated, to where it is needed.”

He added: “If England progress past the group stage and into the knockout rounds, we anticipate these spikes will get bigger and bigger, as more people tune in.”

Although recent history suggests this is unlikely, if Gareth Southgate’s plucky England side were able to reach the semi-finals, this half-time energy surge could quadruple. In 1990, when Paul Gascoigne’s tears endeared him to the nation during our World Cup semi-final defeat against Germany, UK electricity demand shot up by 2,800 megawatts, and remains the record for any television programme.

Large and sudden demands for power from the grid are far from ideal – but what options are there? Whilst the National Grid put measures in place to ensure we don’t plunge into a nationwide blackout (when Harry Kane hopefully kickstarts our summer with a hat-trick) the team at Tonik assess the nation’s choices...

Option One: Fire up the dirty diesel generators.

Given the need for quick and temporary power to ensure we can handle fridge doors opening and kettles boiling – we could handle the power surge by throwing more power at the grid! (P.S. As crazy as it sounds, this actually happens!)

Option Two: A minute each  

Assign each household in the UK one of the minutes within the 90 minute game for their ‘energy window’ in which to grab their beer from the fridge or brew their cuppa – manage the power surge by spreading the increased demand over time!

Option Three: Look to the future  

Let UK households’ solar and battery technology meet their power (and therefore, refreshment) needs – eradicate the problem by not being dependent on the grid at peak demand times. Instead, store your own energy and use it as and when required.


Option Two gives us an outcome near to what we need, but trying to regiment mass coordinated behaviour change is simply unrealistic given kickoff is a few hours away and if you miss your slot, you could go thirsty until the end of the match! Option One is what we rely on at the moment, but we think there’s a better, greener way.

Option Three - The future? But it’s closer than you think today. A home battery that has been topped up with solar energy during the day, enables you to quench your thirst during the match – and do so using your own 100% renewable electricity. It also reduces the need to use diesel generators that are costly to us and to the environment - as well as making sure we don’t miss any of Gary Lineker’s half-time punditry either!

The National Grid vs. the World Cup Cuppa

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