For National Grid ESO 'Top 10 festive Christmas electricity facts' story

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Heating our ovens for Christmas turkey and all the trimmings, switching on the Christmas tree lights and settling down for some seasonal TV viewing. Find out all about our nationwide Christmas Day electricity habits – and how they compare to previous years.

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The control room of the National Grid ESO , the electricity system operator for Great Britain, balances the grid second by second – so the engineers have a unique insight into the nation’s Christmas habits and how they affect electricity demand.

Here’s what they’ve discovered…

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Demand picks up all morning until lunchtime and peaks at 1:30pm, when many of us are serving our turkey lunch. It then drops off throughout the day as we laze in front of the TV.

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Peak demand for Christmas Day 2019 (see the chart below) was 33.3GW. This compared to a 2019 high of 46GW in November. Demand has been reducing each year due to the ever-growing efficiency of appliances.

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Excited children can’t wait to open their stockings and, of course, turkeys have to go in the oven hours before lunch time.

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Remember those Batman and Robin outfits in the Heroes & Villains special?

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This year there may be a small pick-up for the Queens Speech.

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As we continue to operate a cleaner electricity system we could see a new record breaker in 2020.

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2020 could be the first coal-free Christmas year – unless Santa leaves some for naughty boys and girls.

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That’s an impressive surge from a mere 0.3% in 2008, as renewables play an ever increasing role in electricity generation.

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As lights all tend to come on at the same time and then stay on (rather than being switched on and off at different times) their impact on overall demand for electricity is negligible.

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That’s because as a Bank Holiday many businesses are still closed, but more of us are out of the house compared to Christmas Day.

Rob Rome, Head of National Control at National Grid ESO, adds: “The engineers in our control room work 24/7 to keep the grid in balance and Christmas is no different, with teams working throughout to ensure safe, secure and reliable electricity.

“Demand for electricity is usually low on Christmas Day and habits tend to be the same every year – even more so now that we have on demand TV, which makes TV pick-ups fewer and far between.

“Many people will be watching the weather, hoping for a White Christmas, and that has an impact on electricity too. If it’s mild and blustery renewable sources will make up a significant proportion of the electricity used to cook turkeys and light up trees – perhaps even a record level. If it’s cold demand will be a little higher, but nothing compared to a standard weekday.

“This year has been the greenest year on record for GB electricity, with the longest ever period of coal free electricity and record levels of wind and solar generation. We’re hoping that this Christmas Day will be the greenest on record too!”

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