Tag Archives: UK

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

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

The European Blackout Risk

At 2000 hours Central European Time on February 8, 2012 combined electricity demand in the UK, France and Germany peaked at a historic high of 231GW during a winter cold snap. This caused no serious problems at the time, but the UK, France and Germany could have a combined total of as little as 210GW of capacity on-line this winter, and if another 231GW demand peak coincides with 210GW of available capacity, demand management will undoubtedly come into effect somewhere. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 66 Comments

UK Electricity 2050 Part 1: a demand model

Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentators Alex Terrel and Andy Dawson. Alex Terrell is a business consultant in the area of Vehicle Telematics. He has also consulted in Energy and Manufacturing, and has a degree in Engineering. Andy Dawson is an energy sector systems consultant and former nuclear engineer.

This lengthy post is in three parts and aims to provide greater sophistication to a UK 2050 electricity model than can be achieved using the DECC 2050 calculator. Part 1 (below) presents the demand model. Parts 2 and 3 (to follow) will look at how demand may be met by a high nuclear option and from a renewables option. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Can the UK meet the fifth carbon budget?

The UK’s fifth carbon budget calls for a 57% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2028-2032. This post evaluates whether this goal is achievable and concludes that at best it will be difficult to meet. It also reviews the reasons behind the UK’s apparent success in reducing its GHG emissions (down by 36% in 2014 relative to 1990) and concludes that this reduction is largely a result of market forces and that renewable energy has played only a minor part. The post also highlights the fact that only about a quarter of UK GHG emissions come from the electricity sector, meaning that success can be achieved only by reducing emissions from the other energy-consuming sectors, which is a much tougher proposition. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

Decarbonising UK Power Generation – The Nuclear Option

How to decarbonise UK Power generation is a topic of heated debate, with renewables enthusiasts often keen to argue that there are a range of obstacles to the use of nuclear generation to meet more than a small proportion of total demand. Reasons cited are availability of space/sites, grid integration and the challenges of meeting variable demand. So, is an all-nuclear UK grid (with the small sleight of hand of pumped storage hydro in support) potentially viable? Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 67 Comments

An Energy Plan for France and the UK

Environmental activist group Bellona report that President Hollande wishes to reduce France’s dependency on nuclear power. It suddenly struck me that France will have nuclear power stations that it no longer needs and the UK needs nuclear power stations that it cannot afford to build. The solution is absurdly simple. The UK can simply contract to buy 20 GW of nuclear power from France while France presses on to modernise its infrastructure by deploying more bio-energy, wind and solar power. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 92 Comments

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

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 150 Comments

A Big Gale

With the UK Met Office starting to name storms it is refreshing to see that there is at least one person who works there that has a sense of humour. Wind blowing nowhere is now giving way to the winter storm … Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wind Blowing Nowhere – Again

The central question lies in the wisdom of distributed power generation. Generating your own wind power down on the farm or solar power on your two bedroom semi’s roof may sound like a great back to nature green solution to electricity production. That is until the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine and your dependency is shifted to the owner of the 3000 mile long, 200 GW HVDC power line to Saudi Arabia. Is it not better to be dependent upon the 100 mile long, 1 GW power line to your local nuclear or gas fired power station? Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

UK Solar PV Vital Statistics

The UK National Grid publishes model data for solar production in the UK so we can get an idea how much electricity all those roof mounted panels produce. The model data are published with 30 minute resolution and I have chosen to graph all the data for 2014, the most recent year with full cover. The idea is to try and show graphically how useful solar PV is in a high latitude country like the UK. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 41 Comments

UK Wind Farm Constraint Payments

Constraint payments for UK windfarms occasionally hit the headlines. At times when there is more wind electricity being generated than the UK grid can handle, wind producers are paid to disconnect from the grid. Renewables enthusiasts will argue this is a small price to pay for Green Electricity while sceptics are riled by the £53 million pounds paid to wealthy landowners in 2014 for not producing electricity. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

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

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

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

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 36 Comments

UK hits minus 13˚C and wind hits “zero” output

At 14:05 on 19th January the output from the UK’s 11.99 GW fleet of wind turbines dropped to 0.191 GW. This is effectively zero and it’s hard to believe it could get so low given that 4 GW are off shore. This translates to a wind load factor of 0.016 – effectively zero. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , | 44 Comments

Gridwatch UK December 2014

This is the first in what I hope will become a monthly series chronicling the UK generation statistics from BM reports and Gridwatch that will be archived on the main menu bar above. As the database grows it will become possible to identify seasonal and temporal, policy driven, changes to the UK grid. But for now I will let the charts speak for themselves. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

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

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 67 Comments

European and UK Gas Security

Will the Lights be on at Christmas? Almost certainly yes. The biggest blackout risk will come later in the New Year at around tea time on a weekday in February or early March. The weather poses one of the most significant risks where a prolonged cold calm spell could see European gas stocks run down. The Ukrainian Civil war may see supplies cut and this may have a bad impact upon East Europe and perhaps Italy. But for so long as Nord Stream remains supplied I don’t see Russian risks to West European supplies. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

A Beginners Guide to Blackouts

Blackouts were a time of excitement where whole towns went black, citizens reached for their candles and crooks reached for their crow bars. Continue reading

Posted in Energy for beginners, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Keeping the Lights On

I was invited to attend the annual “Global Warming Policy Foundation’s” annual lecture delivered by The Rt Honorable Owen Paterson MP on the evening of Wednesday 15th October and decided to blow last Monday’s donations on a trip to London … Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

UK Wind Power in The Doldrums

The lack of wind in the UK this year has already been in the news resulting in poor performance of UK wind farms. UK wind now has 11.2 GW [1] of installed capacity amounting to 13.5% of total generating capacity in the UK. In September the wind park generated 739 GWh amounting to 3.3% of UK demand [2]. The load factor was only 9%. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 44 Comments