Only FM radios might work under latest blackout emergency plans

Still remember how to tune that FM radio?  (Ruark)
Still remember how to tune that FM radio? (Ruark)

Get ready to dust off granny’s trusty old analogue radio, because that might be the only thing that will work under the Government’s blackout-contingency plans this winter, aimed at managing energy blackouts lasting up to seven days.

Preparations for Programme Yarrow, which lays out plans for a “reasonable worst-case scenario”, have been war-gamed by government departments in recent days, according to the Guardian.

In the event of blackouts, priority will be given to getting food, water, and shelter to young and elderly people and their carers, the plans show.

And, in the outlined worst-case scenario, communications could be limited to FM radio over BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4.

It would see generations of tech peeled away, from home broadband to mobile internet, at a time most mobile phones no longer have integrated FM radios, and many standalone radios have been replaced with smart speakers that rely on a constant Wi-Fi connection.

A battery-powered radio may not be a bad investment in the months to come, as noted in our how to prepare for winter powercuts guide.

The report suggests that, even in a “worst-case” scenario, 100 per cent of energy demand will be restored after a week, and that 60 per cent would be fulfilled between day two and day seven through rationed access to electricity.

This is reminiscent of the three-hour rolling blackouts the National Grid warned about back in October, although under Programme Yarrow, households and businesses will be given 24 hours’ notice of a planned outage, and the plan could be published up to a week ahead, on a rolling basis.

The National Grid also suggests there is little to fear, should no unforeseen emergencies arise.

“The outlook for winter has not changed, and the base case published by the Electricity System Operator and Gas System Operator last month shows there will be sufficient supply of electricity and gas to meet customer demand this winter,” said National Grid External affairs manager Helen Blake.