It was 3AM on Monday and staff at National Grid’s central control room had a problem. Arrayed before them were dozens of computers tracking the UK’s energy supply and demand. Overhead was a huge screen displaying, second by second, Britain’s whole electricity generating and supply network. The giant bear pit of a room is the nerve centre of Britain’s complex power grid. Its precise location – somewhere near Wokingham – is kept under wraps for national security reasons. That morning, a message flashed up, telling them that a gas-powered electricity generator with a chunky 800MW capacity had to go offline because of a fault.
Such outages, as they are known in the industry, are not uncommon.
But last week, there was another problem to compound