An explanation of how much is used overall, as well as where and when the peaks are.
The United Kingdom, as a fairly well developed nation, uses a great deal of electricity per capita compared to many other countries around the world. Overall the UK uses an estimated 6000 kWh per person every year, only 7% of which comes from renewable energy.
The average amount of energy used in the UK varies according to several factors: For instance, between 6 and 9AM, there is a sudden increase in the levels due to the vast numbers of people getting up at that time for the “nine-to-five routine”, and across the nation there are suddenly millions of radios, televisions, toasters and kettles coming on as the entire population gets ready for the day. There will also be huge surges in demand a few hours later as thousands of offices power up multi-million computers and telephones for the rest of the day. Other peak times include various points in a television schedule, as all of the viewers switch on the kettle at the same time. There are also times at which the demand for electricity is relatively low, such as around midnight – when most of the population are in bed – and summer time – when people spend less time inside the house.
Unanticipated surges in power demand are often not good for power stations, which tend to take a long time to get running and thus cannot handle rapid changes in power output. Electricity companies therefore have to work out when the next increase in demand will come and re-plan their schedules accordingly.