Robin McCormick in SONI's Grid Control Centre in Belfast

Ireland v England Rugby St Patrick’s Day showdown to spark rise in electricity use

17 March 2018

SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) is preparing to manage a sudden surge in electricity demand this afternoon, as Ireland gets set to take on England in an historic St Patrick’s Day Grand Slam decider in Twickenham.

With over a quarter of a million viewers expected to tune in to witness the clash, following Ireland’s decisive victory over Scotland last weekend, the grid operator in Northern Ireland is expecting a surge of up to 30 megawatts (MW) at half-time during the game – equivalent to the electricity needed to power 25,000 homes.

The spike is expected to come between 3.30pm and 3.45pm, as viewers use the half-time period to boil the kettle, put on the washing or go for a toilet break.

Robin McCormick, SONI general manager, says the Grid Control Centre, which keeps the lights on across Northern Ireland by matching electricity production to customer demand, is prepared to deal with the sudden surge at half-time.

"The last time Ireland won the grand slam was in 2009, so this will be a big household viewing event and we expect to see a spike of at least 30MW at half-time.

"Generally, demand on the weekend is quite low compared to during the week, so a sudden spike like this is quite dramatic, but we are prepared and are playing our part to ensure everyone in Northern Ireland can enjoy the game!"