The Phenomena of "TV Pickup" in Great Britain



It appears that everybody in Great Britain has the same idea for how to handle television commercials: make a cup of tea. There’s a phenomena — called "TV pickup" — in the UK that affects electricity generation and transmission networks. It often occurs when a large number of people watch the same TV programs while using commercials to put the tea kettle on to boil. The surge demand caused by switching on millions of electric kettles or stoves to brew cups of tea consumes 2.5-3.0kW and creates a very high peak demand on the electrical grid. The introduction of a wider range of TV channels is mitigating the effect, but it remains a large concern. A typical TV pickup imposes an extra demand of 200-400 megawatts, with larger storylines bringing around 700-800MW. The National Grid Energy Balancing Team is responsible for ensuring an adequate supply of electricity during these peak times. Sporting events like tennis matches are especially difficult because of the impossibility of predicting when one will end. Fortunately, streaming TV is now easing the load significantly.