Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The slump in demand for electricity in the UK is unprecedented

The slump in demand for electricity in the UK is unprecedented according to this article from the Guardian.

Electricity demand from British industry has fallen by an unprecedented 8% this year as factories have shut down in droves, power station operator Drax said today.

Household demand has also declined – by 2% – but that was due to mild weather rather than economic reasons, the company's chief executive, Dorothy Thompson, said, as she unveiled half-year results.

Overall demand for the power station's electricity fell by 6% in the first six months of 2009, compared with the same period a year earlier. The station, in Yorkshire, is the largest coal-fired power station in Europe and supplies around 7% of Britain's electricity.

Thompson said it was usual for energy demand to fluctuate in line with changes in overall economic output, but this time the drop was abnormally large. "For our sector it's a very unusual movement ... in fact, unprecedented in my experience," she said.

A slump in world trade volumes in the second half of last year and a collapse in demand for things like new cars meant Britain's industry has borne the brunt of the recession. Many car plants closed for several months around the turn of the year as they tried to run down stocks of unsold cars. That also caused many parts suppliers to shut down temporarily, which could explain such a sharp drop in electricity demand.

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