Hand holding thermometer showing high temperatures in the sun

How we protect the electricity network in extreme heat

With record temperatures in the UK this summer, we are continually monitoring our assets – such as our overhead lines, transformers or substation equipment – to ensure the network continues to operate efficiently. Find out more about some of the measures we take to keep electricity flowing safely around the country when temperatures soar.

1. Planning ahead: making sure the network is in good condition ahead of summer

In good time before hotter weather sets in, we thoroughly check our assets for normal levels of things that can affect their performance, such as oil and gas. Cooling fans and pumps are also checked to make sure they’re in good working order.

2. Rating our assets for different temperatures

All our assets are given a rating, which governs how the network is set up and how it’s prepared for generation to flow to demand. One of the things taken into account within these ratings is different temperatures, with colder temperatures given a higher rating and hotter temperatures a lower rating. The Electricity System Operator then operates the network within set rating parameters, which means it won’t be overstressed and prevents assets from getting damaged.

3. Continuously monitoring for the effects of heat

Fans and pumps are regularly checked to make sure they are in good working order to be able to cool our assets when needed. We also continually monitor the system for any alarms or signs of overheating, which would mean we would need to get someone out to do a maintenance check. When necessary, additional control room staff can also be deployed to help monitor for issues arising from excessive heat (or cold).

4. Guarding against fires close to our overhead lines

We’ve identified routes on the network where, historically, we’ve had issue with fire encroaching near overhead lines – predominantly over or near heathland. We undertake patrols along these routes to detect any emerging issues and any material that could spontaneously combust and be a potential fire hazard.

5. Taking care of our people working out in the field

Making sure our greatest asset – our people – is looked after and stays safe in the heat, we encourage our field teams to take regular rest breaks and drink plenty of fluids. We recognise that a lot of our teams have no option other than to be in the outdoor environment, so their welfare and wellbeing in very important to us.