The arrival of winter is generally greeted with scare stories about how, due to an overstretched National Grid, the cold weather could bring with it power cuts.
This year the squeeze on electricity supplies in the UK is less severe than expected due to more coal power on the system, however Greenpeace are not convinced and have issued a call for more households to move to LED lighting.
The National Grid’s winter outlook report said the gap between total electricity generating capacity and peak demand could fall to 1.1 percent at the height of a cold spell, a situation which is much better than was predicted earlier in the year.
Overall the UK energy outlook for this winter was described by the National Grid as ‘tight but manageable’.
Greenpeace are calling for a major drive to switch to highly efficient LED lighting in homes, street lights and offices, which they say would reduce peak winter demand and curb fears about blackouts.
Research by energy analyst Chris Goodall, backed by Greenpeace, suggested that a total switch-over to LED light bulbs in homes could reduce peak energy demand by five percent, or 2.7GW.
Changing street lights over to LED, a process this already underway in some places, would save a further 0.5GW, while offices and other commercial buildings moving to LEDs could save a further 4.5GW, the research found.
LED light bulbs can dramatically reduce the risk of winter blackouts as well as bringing down energy bills.
Power margins in winter have tightened in recent years, as coal fired power stations close and the government struggles to fill the gap.
Over the last six months, solar power has outperformed coal, but cannot be relied on to help meet demand in the depths of winter. Wind turbines tend to generate more power in winter but this can be intermittent and unreliable.
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr commented: ‘Our latest research has shown that even a simple switch to highly efficient LED light bulbs can dramatically reduce the risk of winter blackouts as well as bringing down energy bills.
And this is just a small example of the potential technological innovation has to create a more robust and cheaper energy system for everyone.’