Tag Archives: electricity

UK Electricity 2050 Part 4: Nuclear and renewables cost comparisons

Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentator Alex Terrell. Part 4 of the series on designing a renewable or nuclear electricity supply for the UK in 2050, where parts 1 to 3 were co-authored with Andy Dawson. Here costs of the renewable and nuclear options are compared. The forecast based on BEIS’ median 2030 scenarios for renewables (wind+solar) comes in at £143 / MWh and for nuclear at £84 / MWh, for wholesale costs. Both costs will be a lot lower if the respective technologies improve as their advocates hope. Continue reading

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New Renewable Energy Targets for Scotland

The Scottish Government recently launched a consultation on a revised energy strategy. The existing policy is to produce the equivalent of 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The new policy is to produce the equivalent of 50% of all energy consumed from renewable sources by 2030 – in 13 years time. Electricity currently represents 22% of energy consumption and we are now at 59% renewables, suggesting that 13% of all energy currently comes from renewable sources. The new plan calls for renewable output to increase approximately 4 fold. It is also planned that our two nuclear power stations will close in this time frame. Continue reading

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The causes of the recent decrease in US greenhouse gas emissions

Since their peak in 2007 GHG emissions in the USA have decreased more in absolute terms than in any other country. The results of this review suggest that approximately 40% of this decrease was caused by the replacement of coal with gas in generating plants, 30% by improvements in the efficiency of internal combustion engines and 30% by growth in low-carbon renewables. Another major contributor was the 2008-9 global recession, although its impact can’t reliably be quantified. Had economic growth continued at historic rates between 2007 and the present US GHG emissions would now be substantially higher than they are. Continue reading

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UK Blackout Risk – Amber Warning

In recent months, three companies have announced closure of 4 large coal-fired power stations in the UK representing a total loss of 6.671 GW base load capacity*. Combined with closure of 1 nuclear station and the pending closure of two CCGTs, total capacity loss in 2016 will amount to 8.726 GW. If there was a blackout risk this winter, then things will obviously be much worse next winter. Continue reading

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Red Eléctrica de España

Spanish electricity data with hourly resolution is presented for the months of September and October. Wind in Spain is balanced mainly by varying coal output with a little help from gas and a tiny amount of help from hydro. Imports and exports are not used at all in the gross balancing exercise. Hydro is used to balance solar and to follow diurnal demand. The Green fantasy of using grid interconnectivity and hydro to balance variable wind is not being put into practice in Spain. Continue reading

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Electricity and the Wealth of Nations

There’s no doubt that electricity is fundamental to GDP growth and that wealth in our modern society cannot be created without it, but a key question is; which comes first? Does the electricity create the wealth, or does the wealth create the electricity, or is the linkage between the two so close that it’s impossible to say? Continue reading

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The Changing Face of UK Power Supply

There are four main points to me made from this post:

1) Dispatchable capacity in the UK has declined 2.1GW since 2004 which is not a material difference since electricity demand has also fallen in that period.
2) The nameplate capacity margin is approximately 13 GW which seems ample contingency for plant outages. Increasing this margin would involve paying companies to keep higher unused capacity in reserve.
3) The risk of capacity failure is always around 6pm on a weekday in winter and only lasts for a few hours each day.
4) 13.5 GW of wind and 7 GW of solar cannot be relied upon to provide any supply at 6 pm on a winter week day when the blackout risk is greatest. Continue reading

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Electricity Supply – Driven by Politics at the Customers’ Expense?

As a spokesman and lobbyist for the electricity sector for many years, I used to describe electricity supply as ‘vital’. But, that under-valued it and as Bill Shankly might have said, ‘Listen, it’s more important than that’. What most electricity customers want is for it to be reliable and affordable. Continue reading

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Greek Tragedy

After several years, several months, several weeks and several days of crisis, it looks like things are about to come to a head for Greece and its banks. It becomes easier to understand exactly what GREXIT may mean for the Greek people. What happens when the banks and the government run completely out of money? Continue reading

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UK Electricity Interconnectors – a Double-Edged Sword

The UK’s energy plan assumes that more interconnectors will contribute to future energy security by allowing power surpluses on the Continent to be delivered to UK when power is in short supply. And the more interconnectors the better, hence additional interconnectors with France and Ireland plus new interconnectors linking the UK with Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are now in various stages of planning or construction. If all of them are completed on schedule the UK will have somewhere around 12GW of interconnector capacity – three times the current amount – by 2020. Continue reading

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Ed Davey in Wonderland

Record investments of £45 billion in electricity generation and networks since 2010 has seen UK electricity consumption fall from 361 to 337 TWh (6.7%) while electricity imports have risen from 2.7 to 14.4 TWh (5.3 fold). Continue reading

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Cycling Coal to Balance Electricity Grids

And so the question is if a coal fired power station is “switched off” when demand for coal fired electricity goes down are the furnaces extinguished thus eliminating CO2 emissions or are they kept burning, perhaps at reduced levels?

I have always felt the best way to tackle both emissions and energy scarcity was to improve energy efficiency at every level of society. The current strategy appears to be taking us in the opposite direction. Continue reading

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Scotch on the ROCs

“The Scottish Government’s targets are for renewable sources to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption by 2020.” What will the consequences be for the Scottish People?

In summary, the Scottish Government energy plan may result in a large electricity surplus that at present has nowhere to go, the number of wind turbines may increase 5 fold and electricity bills may double. Continue reading

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Bill Gates on the High Cost of Being Poor

The real problem for Gates and other holier-than-thou billionaires who got lucky and got rich on the back of cheap energy is that nobody is interested in their whine. Transition away from fossil fuels, to renewables, is a century-long process and, like Gates admits, the low income countries really don’t have the time to waste. The need energy right now, like he also admits. Continue reading

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Wind and Solar Reach 7.5% of EU+ generation in 2012

BP data suggest that wind and solar accounted for 7.5% of EU+ electricity generation in 2012. So, is this a triumph or not? Continue reading

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Brave Green World and the Cost of Electricity

Approximately 50% of the recent rise in electricity bills may be attributed to the rise in natural gas and coal prices. The rest may be down to the UK government’s Green, CO2 abatement measures. Continue reading

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Parasitic wind killing its host

Every now and then I read a report that makes me angry. This one made my blood boil: National Grid has confirmed that a record-breaking amount of clean electricity was generated by wind power in the UK today [29th November] … Continue reading

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Blowout week 46

In energy news this week: oil and gas companies struggling with high costs and poor field performance; Electricity companies struggling with competition from subsidised renewables and environmental levies; Airline companies struggling with old inefficient planes and high fuel costs; the Arab Spring continues to spread misery in the Arab world. Continue reading

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The changing face of UK electricity supply

Figure 1 Stacked area chart showing the contributions to the UK grid from various generating sources for March 2013. Similar charts for January, February and April can be found in an earlier post. With 9000 lines of data, it is … Continue reading

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BM reports provide instantaneous updates on the generating sources to the UK grid. Gridwatch has been recording this data for years and making it publicly available in an easy to access format. This post presents detailed charts of UK generating mix for January to April 2013. It is a prelude to a more detailed dissection of UK generating mix, and in particular the impact of wind on the grid, that will be published later this week. Continue reading

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