005c…Will the lights go off in January?

I have been looking at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – Updated energy and emissions projections 2018 updated 16 May 2019. There is a very interesting graph of projected electricity generation.

electicity generation 1

As far as I can tell renewables are solar and wind and little else. Although the overall generation figures of recent years show increasing levels of renewables, the report seems to overlook the fact that as per today 22 January 2020 at 11.52 am  we have:
from gridwatch.templar.co.uk/
Approximate figures in GW and percentages
Demand is 44
Coal 1.8, 4.12
Nuclear 6.9, 15.67
CCGT 26.34, 59.91
Wind 1.5, 3.41
Solar 0.95, 2.16
French interconnector 2.01, 4.57
Hydro 0.94, 2.14
Biomass 2.71, 6.16

Currently Hinkley C will add 3.2 GW when it is completed which from the graph suggests that future nuclear power stations will be built doubling the 2018-2020 capacity , though Wikipedia shows only one at Bradwell coming on line with 2.3GW capacity in 2030.

So looking forward to 2025 on a day such as today we would have zero coal, CCGT down by 40%, nuclear probably the same as some stations are closing as Hinckley comes on line, renewables the same but if more people use electric cars then demand may well rise, lets say to 45GW. We cannot count on the interconnectors as those countries may need all their supply as was the case a few days ago.

Demand of 45
Total Production of around 29GW generated as below leaving a deficit of some 16GW. How will this deficit be supplied?
Coal 0
Nuclear 6.9
CCGT 15.8
Wind 1.5
Solar 0.95
Hydro 0.94
Biomass 2.71


Well it’s January 2020 and today, the 20th at 10.22 the situation is:

Demand 44.5 GW
Contributions, Coal 3.57, Nuclear  6.44, CCGT 24.71(Flat out), Wind 4.88 (10.98%), Hydro 0.78, Biomass 2.37, Solar 1.57, French and Dutch interconnecots zero. (I guess they need all they can generate because of the cold weather.)
To save you adding up contributions total to 44.47GW

So what happens tonight if demand increases when everyone goes home, plugs in their electric cars, kettles and TV and we lose the solar 1.57, and perhaps the wind 4.88, dies down and we lose their 6.45GW?

For the period 2017-2018 the Excess Winter Deaths were 49,410. (ONS figures)
For the 2018 to 2019 winter period in England the figure is lower and the ONS report highlights “the highest peak in daily deaths occurred on 1 February 2019 (Figure 3a). This coincided with the coldest winter day on the 31 January 2019 with a maximum temperature in England of 1.7 degrees Celsius, ” clearly demonstrating the link between the cold weather and death.

I hope I am wrong as many old folks, like myself will suffer if the heating goes off as gas fired central heating needs electricity to pump the water around the system.

Because we are shutting down coal and apparnetly will not be building any more fossil fuel generation like CCGT, we oldies will be dying to save the planet so that’s OK then.

My post last year.

According to my reading of the the latest version of the UK government figure of the capacity of Power Stations in the United Kingdom operational at the end of May 2019 ( Dukes 5.11 ), our generation capacity from all sources, when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, is 44.6 GW.

There have been periods when UK demand has been high and luckily in these periods the French interconnector and Dutch connectors seem reliable and have contributed around 2.7GW.

Analysis of the Grid watch figures from 1-11-2018 to 29-3-2019 saw demand peek to almost 49 GW in January, that’s a bit more than our 44.6 GW capacity.

So what does this mean for the coming winter? Where will we source the 5.6 GW deficit? Assuming the interconnectors contribute their maximum to us of 4.5 GW it still leave about a 1 GW to find. Those figures (rounded for brevity ) are close but is it too close for comfort?

The problem with the supply industry and the interconnectors is it’s all about price. For example if the French can sell their electricity at a better price to domestic customers we lose their contribution.

I’ve already looked at the future when planned closures and Hinkley C may or may not come on line in 2025 but it seems we will skating on thin ice this winter to keep the lights on.

Some of the past problems with supply are listed in this publication, we can hope they are not repeated.

DUKES 2019 Chapter 5: Electricity