- Computer chips will take control of home appliances when energy is low
- Sensors will detect spikes in demand for power and when grid struggles to meet it, will temporarily shut off appliances
- Can shut down supply without warning – or your consent
Mail Online :: By Russell Myers and Martin Beckford :: 27 April 2013
Fridges and freezers in millions of British homes will automatically be switched off without the owner’s consent under a ‘Big Brother’ regime to reduce the strain on power stations.
The National Grid is demanding that all new appliances be fitted with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for electricity.
Electric ovens, air-conditioning units and washing machines will also be affected by the proposals, which are already backed by one of the European Union’s most influential energy bodies. They are pushing for the move as green energy sources such as wind farms are less predictable than traditional power stations, increasing the risk of blackouts.
Last night critics:
- Condemned the principle that outside forces should be allowed to control appliances.
- Warned the new sensors would add £40 to the average price of white goods for consumers.
- Hit out at the energy giants who would make millions of pounds extra profit under the scheme, as it would save them from firing up reserve generators or paying factories to switch off furnaces to quell demand. There is no suggestion that consumers will be compensated for having their appliances shut down.
The sensors will automatically detect spikes in demand for power that the grid is struggling to meet, and temporarily shut off the appliances.
Viktor Sundberg, energy strategy manager at Electrolux, warned: ‘This is Big Brother technology on a grand scale. The device inside the fridge or freezer will automatically change the way the appliance operates in response to the output of the grid.
‘This method of shutting down household appliances could to be carried out almost instantly, saving the energy companies millions because they won’t have to start up the turbines or pay huge industrial companies to cut production. Consumers are not benefiting at all and will be left paying more when they buy the appliances, as well as having their private goods controlled by outside forces.’
David Davis, the former Tory leadership candidate, said: ‘There is a Big Brother element to this – and it also shows the energy suppliers passing down their incompetence to the customers. They should be supplying energy as customers need it, not the when they want to give it.
‘There is something Soviet about this. It’s a ridiculous idea and it should be opposed. I hope the Government puts its foot down.’
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This sinister plan smacks of over- the-top intrusion into people’s houses. It should be the choice of consumers if they want to sign up to it, not slipped into our homes through fridges and freezers.’