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National Grid workers ‘convinced’ UK can reach net zero target | UK News



I could tell you where I was – but then I’d have to kill you.

Well, maybe just ask you sternly, Scottish-ly, not to tell anyone.

The location of the National Grid control room is technically a secret, even if you don’t have to work too hard to find it.

But at the main gates, no hint of what lies within – beyond some very friendly (yet clearly double-hard) security men and a few too many CCTV cameras for this to be any ordinary estate.

The control room itself I described variously on-air as a Bond villain lair (if Bond villains were minded to keep the lights on rather than global thermonuclear conflict) and NASA mission control.
Pic: National Grid ESO

The latter is perhaps the most accurate. A huge bank of screens showing an almost cubist map of Great Britain through the power lines running around the country, and then overseas.

A small number of quiet, diligent professionals hunched over their screens, working every minute of every day to keep your kettle boiling.

It’s their job to monitor demand and adjust the flow of electricity around the circuit accordingly. They must also be ahead of the curve, predicting or anticipating those events that might put too great a strain on the system.

As one member of staff said to me, they’re not too used to self-promotion. After all, most people are unaware even of the facility’s existence.

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If you hear about the control room, it would almost certainly be because something has gone wrong. No news is good news from the perspective of those who work there.

But they are justifiably proud.

Recently, they had more than a fortnight of generating electricity without using coal – which has pretty much been the mainstay of our electricity generation since the lights first came on.

This year will be the first year since the Industrial Revolution, where more of our electricity will come from zero carbon or renewable sources.

Frankly, the shift we have made in just the last decade – from 75% of our electricity from fossil fuels in 2009 to less than half, the use of renewables doubling over the same period – is pretty staggering.

I note of course that it is not the responsibility of those working here to turn us green; we still import energy and it is the job of this centre to ensure we pay as little as possible to do so.

But everyone I spoke to was convinced that we can hit net zero carbon; even if on our visit today gas was the main fuel for the Grid, hovering around 60% of the total for most of our visit.

My suspicion is that those who work here are equally as proud of their efforts in combining zero carbon electricity to that from fossil fuels, as they are of their efforts to stop the lights going out.

It’s only a suspicion. I mean, I could have asked them – but I’m not entirely certain they’d then not have to kill me.

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