The UK will take extreme measures to cut energy consumption and avoid power blackouts in the next few months as part of a demand management emergency plan, according to the Energy Secretary.
In an interview with newspaper The Sunday Telegraph, Ed Davey said that energy regulators have asked for extra contingency measures to cut consumption in event of a cold winter or more power station failures.
Mr Davey is set to unveil contingency measures on Tuesday this week such as factories being paid to make staff work overnight, in a bid to relieve pressure on the National Grid.
The announcements follow energy analysts warning that the UK is at risk of power outages due to the closure of two nuclear plants for safety reasons.
Mr Davey said: “We have demand-side contingencies. We have had them for a long time, but they [energy regulator Ofgem] wanted – quite rightly – to see if we could increase that.
Examples of demand-side measures, according to Davey would be “companies changing a shift pattern for a week so staff come in earlier”, in a bid to “move factory production away from peak energy demand periods”.
In an attempt to reassure the public about Britain’s energy security, Davey cited a report by the US Chamber of Commerce, which says that Britain has the fourth most secure energy supplies in the world.
However, the same report also warns that Britain’s shrinking spare energy capacity “could lead to blackouts”.
The UK government has been making efforts to cut consumption levels through demand management schemes such as smart meters, the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.
In 2012, a consultation commissioned by the UK government found that these programmes could reduce electricity consumption by nearly 6.5TWh by 2030.