The evening peak demand was down approximately 180 megawatts, enough electricity to power 125,000 homes

SONI Manages Changes in Electricity Consumption Caused by Covid-19 Pandemic

30 March 2020

Engineers at Northern Ireland’s Power System Control Centre in Belfast are managing changes in electricity consumption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

SONI is the electricity system operator for Northern Ireland.  Using sophisticated software, SONI engineers’ role is to ensure electricity generation matches up in real-time with consumer demand, maintaining the stability of Northern Ireland’s power system.

Analysis performed by SONI has revealed a fundamental shift in how electricity is being consumed during the crisis.

Engineers examined how electricity was consumed on Tuesday 24th of March and compared it with the equivalent day last year, March 26th. This is the most accurate way of comparing changes in electricity use.

The analysis has revealed a marked drop in demand for electricity throughout the day as much of the population is staying at home. The evening peak demand was down approximately 180 megawatts, enough electricity to power 125,000 homes.

Jo Aston, SONI Managing Director, explains: “Demand for electricity is normally very predictable, which means that we can plan for it very accurately. Demand initially peaks in the morning as people get ready for work. It then flattens out during the day, peaking again in the evening when people return home and switch on cookers, lights, TVs and other electrical devices. This usually occurs just after 6.00pm.”

The drop in demand is significant, running at between 10% and 20% over the course of the day, and represents a challenge to the SONI engineers running Northern Ireland’s power system. Temperature and sunlight intensity, which can influence how electricity is consumed, were very similar over the two days.

Jo Aston added: “SONI is focused on delivering a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity. We are implementing contingency plans which are focused on mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on electricity services for everyone in Northern Ireland. Our plans are robust and updated to reflect the changing nature of the Covid-19 outbreak.”

For more information, please contact Natasha Sayee on +44 (0)7870894358