What did you do on Christmas Day? For a huge chunk of the UK population Christmas will have been marked by a big roast dinner, followed by slumping in front of the Strictly Christmas Special. Both activities will have caused predictable spikes in electricity consumption.
The weather will also have played a role. High pressure sitting over Scandinavia whips up cold easterly winter winds for the UK, and traditionally it is this kind of weather pattern that puts the greatest stress on electricity demand. But as the UK transitions towards a greater proportion of renewable energy it is a different kind of weather pattern that will present the greatest challenge.
Researchers at the University of Reading have investigated how power systems across Europe respond as more renewables are added to the electricity mix. Their results, published in Meteorological Applications, show that, for the UK, additional wind farms will make it easier to keep the lights on when Siberian easterlies blow.
Instead, the most challenging weather for electricity suppliers will be when high pressure systems park themselves over the UK during winter (bringing still, dry weather). Meteorologists are now looking at how they can improve the lead time on forecasts for these kind of events.