I revisited the National Grid web site the other day to look at how electricity consumption had varied. Not over recent hours, as I reported previously, but over recent years. Amazingly, they have data for every half-hour period since July 2001 in a series of 6 monthly spreadsheet files. The data is complicated but I extracted the column for Total Gross System Demand which seemed to be what I was after.
The graph above tells its own story. There is no real sign of any reduction in consumption over the last 8 years. In fact, I used to the use the ballpark figure of 50 GW (50,000 MW on the above graph) as a rough measure of peak demand. Now a more appropriate figure would be 60 GW. I have some reservations about the data since there seems to a big change in demand in the Winter of 2005/2006, which then doesn’t go back to its previous value. But overall it does look reasonably plausible. Incidentally the thickness of the coloured regions from top to bottom indicates the variation in daily demand.
We all know the benefits and pleasures of using electricity. But given the challenges that face us as a country, these figures need to come down if we are to make any progress in reducing greenhouse emissions. The only ways I know to do this are to ration electricity or to charge more for it. And I just cannot see any politician in the UK with the honesty to state that.