Supermarkets have said they have introduced “energy efficiency” schemes as the threat of winter power blackouts looms over the UK.
NationalWorld contacted all major supermarkets to ask what contingency plans they had in place in case blackouts do strike, since mass power outages would have significant impacts on refrigeration, as well as knock-on effects on stock security. However, while they said they had implemented “energy saving measures”, none said they were planning to bring in back-up generators.
Expert Antony Froggatt from think tank Chatham House previously told NationalWorld, during a conversation about exactly what would happen in a nationwide blackout, that he was “sure” supermarkets would be looking at contingency plans.
Mr Froggatt said: “I am sure that as the threats of blackouts are becoming more known, they will be making provisions so they don’t lose stock. You can get stand-alone generators that run on petrol or diesel, that they can put in place to keep things secure.”
It has since emerged then that this will not be the case, so as concerns over power outages continue to spread across the UK, here’s what each supermarket is doing to prepare.
Waitrose told NationalWorld that it had introduced a series of initiatives to reduce energy consumption across the company this winter, but maintained: “Official advice remains that the most likely scenario is that the UK will have adequate gas and electricity margins this winter.”
Some of the measures the brand has implemented include:
- introducing more energy reducing technology, like LED lighting, heat pumps and more efficient refrigeration systems
- adjusting times for ventilation and reviewing its temperature set points
- using night blinds on fridge cases
- switching off unnecessary equipment
- switching off heating and lighting in unoccupied areas
Lidl also confirmed it was “investing in energy saving technologies” to ensure it was reducing its energy demand, whilst still offering “top quality, fresh food with longer shelf lives for our customers.”
The retailer’s measures include:
- swapping its open refrigeration units for closed ones
- turning down the aircon in stores
Morrisons did not comment on specific actions it was taking as a brand. Instead, the supermarket told NationalWorld that it was “aligned” with a statement made by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on behalf of the industry.
A spokesperson for the BRC said: “Retailers already have a strong focus on energy efficiency and will pay attention to all advice on energy supply if and when it emerges.”
Tesco meanwhile echoed what was said by Morrisons.
NationalWorld also approached Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer for comment.
It comes as fears continue to grow over the possibility of scheduled blackouts this winter, particularly after National Grid sent out and then rapidly cancelled a notice that said the difference between the supply and amount of electricity actually available would be smaller than hoped for on 28 November and 29 November.
The operator also admitted on Monday (28 November) that it was contemplating activating the first ever live run of its Demand Flexibility Service, which was created to avoid blackouts, and asks households to reduce the amount of electricity they use at certain times and promises to pay them for any reductions they make. National Grid soon circled back on this statement however - saying this afternoon that it will no longer implement its blackout prevention scheme.
Earlier this month, National Grid CEO John Pettigrew warned of the possibility of scheduled blackouts, but described this as very much a “reasonable worst-case scenario”. He insisted that the company is “cautiously confident” the UK will be able to weather the winter months without taking this drastic action.
The government is already working on a confidential plan, known as Programme Yarrow, which will map out how to keep the UK running in case of a blackout scenario this winter.