Meeting the Capacity Crisis

  • Leslie Hannah


The most serious problem faced by the British Electricity Authority in 1948 was the chronic disequilibrium of supply and demand.1 For some years after the War there had been severe power cuts in winter, when demand reached its peak, because of shortages of both power station capacity and coal to burn in the plant that was available. In the fuel crisis of February 1947, an already overstretched system had been brought to breaking point: electricity supplies to many users had been periodically interrupted for weeks on end and other supplies had been restricted, in the severest winter for more than a hundred years. The situation had then improved, thanks partly to higher priorities for allocations of coal, steel and men to the electricity supply undertakings and partly to the milder weather in the winter of 1947/8. Even so, the industry had to cut off between 10 and 20 per cent of peak loads in these winters, despite attempts to reduce the peak demand by less drastic means. The latter included exhortations to consumers to switch off appliances, reductions in supply voltages by 5 per cent (which was considered the maximum tolerable limit), and encouragement to industrialists voluntarily to stagger their factory hours away from peak times.


Electricity Supply Peak Demand Severe Winter Construction Programme Steam Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For the fuel and capacity crises and their origins, see L. Hannah, Electricity Before Nationalisation: A Study of the Development of Electricity Supply in Britain to 1948 (London and Baltimore, 1979) ch. 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

Personalised recommendations