Energy use dropped 13% as country went into lockdown

Energy use has dropped heavily across the country since the Government imposed a lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Demand for energy dropped 13% across the day last Wednesday, two days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all non-key shops would have to close their doors and workers sent home.

On the Monday, demand was down 9% before Mr Johnson announced the lockdown.

Tom Edwards, a senior modeller at Cornwall Insight, which compiled the data, said: “The power and gas systems are mirror images of the wider economy, entering practically every aspect of work and leisure.

“They naturally face challenges as a result of the effects of the Covid-19 virus on the way we work, travel and live.”

Although households will likely need more energy, less is being used by industrial production, and offices and shops are also cutting back.

Mr Edwards added: “As large electrical loads such as factories, shops and rail started to reduce their activities, demand on Monday March 23 (before lockdown) was down 9% across the day versus an average March Monday in 2019. It is likely we can expect more reduced activity over the coming weeks.”

The most notable shifts are in the morning and middle of the day when industrial and commercial energy users ramp up.

On Monday, the Financial Times reported that trade body Energy UK, which represents suppliers, has asked the Government to back a £100 million loan scheme that would let firms offer payment holidays to households and businesses that are struggling to pay their bills.

In response, Fiona Nicholls, at Greenpeace, said: “If the Government is going to provide loans, they need to come with commitments that these companies agree to go 100% renewable. Big energy suppliers like SSE have already done it; others must follow suit.”

Ofgem’s new price cap on energy bills came into force on Wednesday, cutting the annual cost of gas and electricity by £17 for the average household on a supplier’s default tariff.

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