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National Grid braced for World Cup penalty shoot-out

The National Grid is bracing itself for record-breaking power surges during the World Cup - but only if the competition ends in another England penalty shoot-out.

The electricity network firm said it could see a 3,000 megawatt increase - equivalent to 1.2 million kettles being turned on at once - if the national team make it through to a nail-biting climax.

A survey by the company found that despite the growth of big screen TVs in pubs, 71% of football fans would watch a final involving England at home or at a friend's house.

This would lead to a massive surge in electricity during half time intervals and after the final whistle is blown, as people head to the fridge for another beer or the kettle for a calming cup of tea.

The phenomenon is known as a TV pick-up and occurs most days during popular programmes, but big football matches result in a bigger demand.

The expected increase in electricity usage for England v USA will be 1,200 megawatts at half time and around 1,100 megawatts at the final whistle.

The predicted surge if England get to the final and the game goes to penalties would beat the previous record for a TV programme set after England went out to West Germany in the 1990 World Cup.

Most people intend to watch the games at home rather than down the pub, research found. A survey of more than 1,500 people found that 68% intend to watch England's games, with 77% of them opting to see Saturday's game against the USA at home.

Jon Fenn, National Grid's electricity operations manager, said: "The World Cup is an exciting time for us and making sure that demand is met is down to the skill of the forecasting team and also the engineers in the control centre who do the second-by-second balancing of demand and supply.

"It must be one of the few jobs where watching World Cup matches is essential to your work rather than a distraction, because we need to know to the second when half time and full time occur to be ready for the surges in demand."

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