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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
England game drives power surge
England football fans watching a game on an outdoor screen in Leeds
Football fans will drive demands on power companies
Electricity demand is expected to soar during England's first World Cup game against Paraguay on Saturday.

The National Grid said usage could increase by 1,500 megawatts - the equivalent of 600,000 kettles being switched on at the same time.

Millions of fans have traditionally turned to the cuppa during breaks to quench their thirst.

Power could be tapped from hydro-electric stations in Scotland and Wales to meet demand.

Tea is a very calming drink with only a quarter of the caffeine of a filtered cup of coffee, which could be handy if it is a very exciting match
William Gorman
Chairman, UK Tea Council

National Grid engineers based at the Electricity National Control Centre (ENCC) in Berkshire will be ensuring power stations have the capacity to generate enough electricity to meet demand.

These normally peak during half-time and at the end of a game when viewers switch on kettles to make a cup of tea.

Supply and demand

About 165 million cups of tea are consumed on a normal day according to the UK Tea Council, but this is expected to surge on Saturday afternoon.

The predicted 1,500-megawatt increase on Saturday is the equivalent of a city the size of Birmingham suddenly tapping into the power supply.

Turn your boiler/water heater down by one degree which could save 40 a year
Chill your drinks rather than freeze them
Recycle empty beer cans and wine bottles
Only boil the amount of water you need to make a hot drink
Use energy saving light bulbs instead of conventional ones to save money
Don't leave television sets on standby
Don't leave chargers on when not in use
Source: Energywatch

The National Grid is confident it can meet the demand and according to Energy Operations Manager Alan Smart, it has the experience of previous World Cups to help them.

National Grid, which operates the entire transmission system throughout Great Britain, began planning for this World Cup five years ago to make sure it can meet the demand.

Its analysts have been scouring the 64 World Cup fixtures, identifying those matches likely to generate the highest TV "pick-ups" or surges.

Record surge

Data has been used from previous World Cups to help plan for an array of scenarios including extra-time and penalty shoot-outs.

Mr Smart said: "We have looked back at these events and realised that people's behaviour does change. In the event of exceptional demands we would have to use hydro-power plants which provide the quickest source and then we might need to use plants in Scotland and Wales."

The previous biggest surge in "pick-up" demand came when England lost to Germany in the World Cup semi-final in 1990 on penalties.

At the end of the match power demand soared 11% to 2,800 megawatts, the equivalent of one million kettles being switched on at once.

Energywatch, the independent gas and electricity watchdog, has urged fans to conserve energy during the World Cup with a new guide.

The UK Tea Council also said people should not overfill kettles or boil them twice, which also "deoxygenates the water", producing a "flat" cup of tea.

William Gorman, 58, chairman of the UK Tea Council, said: "Tea is a very calming drink with only a quarter of the caffeine of a filtered cup of coffee, which could be handy if it is a very exciting match."

Graph showing events triggering some of the highest increases in demand for electricity since 1990
All events are televised World Cup matches unless stated
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