In the UK capital, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has laid down a £20,000 incentive for small businesses to come up with solutions to Londoners using less power at peak times, in a bid to reduce pressure on the National Grid.

Sponsored by financial services company Citi, the prize package of £20,000 will go to the small business with the most innovative idea that incentivises households to reduce electricity use during peak times.

The announcement comes as the UK’s generating reserve could drop to as low as 2 per cent by 2016 – leading to an increased risk of blackouts or brownouts during periods of peak demand, said the Mayor of London’s office.

London’s population is growing and with it electricity demand is rising by up to 4 per cent each year.

The UK is increasingly at risk of power shortages, with Ofgem suggesting the risk of blackouts could increase from virtually zero today to a one in 12 chance over the coming years if left unchecked.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s imperative that we do everything we can to ensure London has a reliable and secure energy supply for the future.

“Alongside measures to generate more of our own energy in the capital, and to encourage businesses to be more responsible, I want to make it easier for Londoners to do their bit, have better control over their energy use and be rewarded for it.

The winning idea will be presented with the £20,000 prize at a summit of world cities at City Hall in June.

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