Posted in Kafevend Blog

After looking at the kettle's origin a few weeks back, I thought it would be good to look at how kettles effect us in more recent times. How often have you, or someone you know if you're not a big Coronation street/ Eastenders/ football fan, got up after the credits start to roll or the advert break comes on to go and make yourself a cup of tea? It turns out that the tea loving/ increasingly coffee loving Brits enjoy a good old synchronised cup of tea/coffee during these breaks, and it can cause the National Grid a bit of worry.

The British public's panache for simultaneously switching on their kettles is known as a “TV pickup”, and is a phenomenon that the National Grid devotes a lot of time towards. Unfortunately, very little electricity can be stored and as such, power stations have to be brought online and offline to meet the rise and fall in electricity demands. A dedicated team works on forecasting demand down to the second in order to prevent a surge in demand causing the mains frequency to fall, and drops in demand, or even switch offs- such as the two minutes silence on Remembrance day for example- causing a waste due to excess power production. During times of increased demand, the National Grid has to call upon “short term operating reserves”(such as the Dinorwig power station- an amazing engineering spectacle, look it up) that can pick up the slack quickly whilst the bigger power stations get into gear.

One of the largest surges took place during a collection of other surges and drops as millions watched the Royal Wedding of William and Kate; a surge of 2,400 MW was recorded as TV coverage went back to the studios as the couple reached Buckingham Palace. The largest ever recorded surge was 2,800 MW at the end of the penalty shoot-out between England and Germany in 1990.

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