Transport chaos across England and Wales after major power cuts

From The Guardian

Failure on National Grid network affects train services and road users

Large parts of England and Wales have been left without electricity following a major power cut, electricity network operators have said, with a serious impact reported on rail and road services, including city traffic lights.

Passengers were shut out of some of the country’s busiest train stations during the Friday evening rush hour, while hundreds of thousands of homes were left without electricity after what the National Grid described as a problem with two generators.

The British Transport police said officers were asked to help as services on the east coast mainline were suspended, with many customers being advised not to travel; and London’s Euston station, the southern hub for the west coast mainline, was closed because of “exceptionally high passenger numbers”. The outage was reportedly also affecting other rail services and traffic lights.

Shortly before 6.30pm, a National Grid spokesperson said the generator issues had caused “loss of power in selected UK areas”. The spokesperson said the issue was “now resolved” and the system had returned to normal.

About 500,000 customers in Wales, south-west England and the Midlands were affected and 300,000 customers in south-east England were left without power, the local distributors said. A further 110,000 in Yorkshire and north-east England were affected, alongside about 26,000 in north-west England, according to the electricity distributors in those areas.

Enappsys, an energy consultancy, said the blackout may have been caused by the unexpected shutdowns of the Hornsea offshore wind farm, which is owned by the Danish wind farm company Orsted, and the Little Barford gas-fired power plant, owned by German utility giant RWE.

National Grid data showed both of the generators dropped from the grid at around the same time. The twin outages caused a sudden loss of frequency of the electricity grid, to below 49Hz, which would have caused certain parts of the network to disconnect automatically, causing the power cuts.

Full story here.

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181 thoughts on “Transport chaos across England and Wales after major power cuts

  1. As we ‘transition to zero carbon’ all electric everything, expect more of the same.. much more.

    Welcome to the new ‘green’ all electric world !

    • yes, electric transport is all about making everyone totally reliant on central control. Removing our ability for autonomous movement. In case of any serious civil unrest, they just throw a switch and everyone stops moving. Totalitarian control is the aim, “green” is the blue pill they give everyone to swallow.

      • Im really amazed at so many trains going electric, even in Aus. last time i used them they were diesel and kept going when power went out;-)
        might be time to devolve back for reliable transport for people to get to their cold dark homes at least
        hmm how many “smart:(stupid) appliances have hissyfits when powers down?

        • Here in the UK they tend to run both diesel and electric in the same track so that when the power fails the electric trains block the track and the diesels cannot run either.

          • What I have noticed in the UK in recent years some rail services run a “top and tail” set meaning two locomotives, a bit like the 1970’s HST 125 sets, and in some cases a diesel-electric one end and an all electric at the other.

        • When we had central heating put in I insisted on keeping one old gas fire which does not depend on electricity like the gas boiler. I also have one usable open fire and a cupboard full of candles: I have memories of the power cuts of the three-day week.

        • Have to guess it did
          its a ringer for the Sth Aus system fails a while back;-)
          guess intending immigrants to Aus just got some practice;-)
          they’ll feel right at home when OUR grids all cascade fail epically this summer.

        • No. It looks as though its entire output was suddenly lost because of a fault on the transmission line to shore or the connections and transformers at either end. That is always going to be a risk when you are 120km/75 miles offshore. Indications are the power lost was of the order of 850GW, which is about 70% of nominal capacity of 1.2GW. So wind was well within operational limits.

      • This gave me the mental image of a steam punk car spewing fumes from a coal fired generator that supplied electricity to the electric motors on the wheels! Love it!

    • I had just met one of my sons when this happened. We had been talking about how toxic to your career being labelled a “Climate Change Denier” can be. How can we ever face reality with this prejudice is so pervasive?

      • The late great Christopher Booker warned about this in a book ten years ago. The Real Global Warming Disaster.

    • I am working in Tanzania this last month. We have had power outages about twice per week. The people here are hoping their sources and grid are improving and will reach up to European standards of reliability. This is an important economic issue.

      Sadly, it seems that the Tanzanian and European standards are indeed converging, but with the European descending to the Tanzanian. And likely to get worse, as often the wind does not blow, or blows too hard, and the sun does not shine half of the day.

      • I stayed in TZ from 1998 to 2005 as an Development Worker / Educator. We were grid connected but had also an electicity generator, a solar heater, a small PV set, a cooking stove with heat exchanger and a 200 liter hot water tank connected. Also some open fire places in our bedrooms. If everything failed we had also one petrol run electricity genrator. Somehow cheap for us Europeans but not affordable for normal income Tanzanians.

    • Its mid summer, where the network isnt even under high stress.
      Wait till a winter ‘cold snap’ or a longer period.
      As always you can fiddle with the voltage but dont mess with grid frequency

      • Not necessarily. With a delicious irony, chances of grid failure are higher in summer because the demand is lower and so unreliable generation makes up a higher proportion. The costs of keeping our grid going have been rising steadily as the generation gets more unreliable.

        I might well dispute their claimed time of failure as being 6.30pm. As I arrived at the platform for my train home at 5pm a train on the other platform was stopped due to a fault. This then expanded to be a power grid failure from that station northwards. Just over an hour later I was finally leaving London from another station on a diesel powered service.

      • You can’t mess with the frequency per se. When the frequency of a generator decreases, that means it’s becoming bogged down and is turning slower. link That’s a big problem. All the generators on the grid have to be running in lock step. It’s called synchronous.

        AC is when the voltage starts at zero, increases to a maximum, decreases back to zero, continues decreasing to a maximum negative voltage, and increases to zero again, and so forth. All the generators have to be doing that at exactly the same time. That’s called the phase. If a generator gets out of sync, it can start sucking power out of the grid and would lead to its destruction if it didn’t automatically disconnect.

        Frequency is treated like some kind of holy grail. The thing is that solar PV, as well as high voltage DC transmission lines, uses electronic inverters to make the AC. They can have the correct frequency and phase all the time. That solves one problem but it deprives the grid operator of a useful signal about how well the inverter is able to keep up with the demand. Windmills have a weirder set of problems. link

        • I might believe that voltage can be measured locally and maintained locally. I am not so sure about phase. That would require some kind of communication link between inverters that would itself also be vulnerable.

        • “If a generator gets out of sync…” it does not draw power from the grid ( called motoring), instead it instantly tries to get back into sync. Depending on the inertia of the generator it either torques itself or tears itself apart, spectacularly. That’s is why safety trips are part of the generator control system. Motoring generators are actually in sync (acting as a synchronous motor), a technique sometimes used for power factor correction.
          A generator out of sync usually happens when trying to tie in to the grid manually and missing the mark, a very expensive screwup that can result in buying a new generator.

          • Electronics people and electrical people sometimes find themselves talking different languages. Anyway, we both agree on the consequences.

          • A long (long) time ago, I was doing an electrical engineering course. The lecturer was explaining how a generator was bought up to speed and the phase adjusted, in those days by three bulbs connected across each phase, between the grid and the generator.

            The speed and phase adjusted until all three bulbs were out, then the big switch thrown to connect the generator into the system.

            He was present at the commissioning of a new generator. Company bigwigs were there, and the turbines fired up to spin up the generator. The person doing the fine tuning of the phasing had done this many times before, but didn’t pay enough attention. Two of the phases has been swapped when the generator was installed.

            The big switch was thrown, and the nice, new, expensive, generator tore its mounting bolts out of its concrete bed, and disappeared through a large hole in the generator shed roof.

          • The electric grid has built in synchronization for frequency, phase, and voltage. They have to be kept steady within ~.5%. The larger generating plants normally do this task. Very small plants, power inverters, wind power inverters all are designed to adjust according to current frequency/phase/voltage within the +/- .5% range.

            If a large power source shuts down abruptly the other generators start to fail in a cascade, depending on how much resiliency they have and whether there is enough electricity available to satisfy demand.

            Apparently the operators didn’t or couldn’t or weren’t allowed to do some sort of “soft” fail where critical supplies- hospitals, trains(in this case) , traffic control, airport lights, and other things required for safety were the last to fail.

        • Inverters than maintain a constant frequency are unhelpful in a grid. They must follow the grid frequency as best they can, otherwise they will get out of phase and disrupt the grid. Consider cos(50t)+cos(49.9t) to see the effect.

          What happens with PV when there is an imbalance between supply and demand is that voltage takes the first hit. Often, in residential locations the problem is that supply greatly exceeds demand in the middle of the day when most are out at work and the voltage rises, which can burn out appliances. The extra energy has to be dissipated!

        • @CommieBob, very much agree as regards the language issues across specialities, certain words can have VERY specific meanings which are very different from those used by other related specialities. They are often unrelated to common usage, increasing the confusion.
          “we are not trying to be obscure, it just seems that way when we try to explain…”

    • it must be the Russian GRU “hacking” the national grid , Pootun personally ordered this attack. Expel more diplomats, more sanctions on Russian “entities” …

      • Grig, Russians would rather sell more gas just to get control on our energy system.

        What comes to hacking, they do hack. They did track Litvinenko and poison him, leaving a ‘card’ as well. Putin is bloodthirsty and has both agents and useful idiots at this side.

    • That’s what the deflection stories are now trying to claim. Fortunately, I managed to research it before the data cover-up got under way – see below.

  2. The UK will get more and more dysfunctional, the more they move to their target of 100% renewables (which is impossible.

    • Not wishing to make excuses but the UK target is carbon neutral by 2050. They intend to plant lots of trees, have lots of wind turbines and solar and then start to panic, frack and build lots more nuclear. Peak Oil should be the real fear, but when that is is very hush-hush.

  3. This is just one of those small things that can happen. It could just as well have been a nuclear power station that fell out, so in this case I would not put too much into this event.
    However, it is interesting to compare the chaos this caused, compared to the almost one week long total blackout in southern Sweden and Denmark back in the mid 70’s. Back then it was caused by a high voltage line in Sweden hitting a tree top, thus propagating cut off within half an hour from Sweden to the Danish/German border in Jutland. By getting the then worlds largest diesel north of Copenhagen started (with stored compressed air), it was possible to get stable voltage and frequency to synchronize all the rest of the generators, which were almost solely coal fired with Polish coal.

    • Carl F-H

      Similar things have happened with Ontario Hydro generators. My father was an engineer at OH in the ’50’s when such a failure occurred across the province. The cause was interesting: a lack of braking on the generators.

      It started with two units at one station that started cycling up and down in opposition to each other. Stability is controlled by changing the pitch angle of the blades which balances the load with the frequency. The issue was the delay between the detected problem (mismatch) and the reaction time of the blade change mechanism and the rotating mass. It could not react quickly enough due to the absence of brakes – a money-saving choice made when specifying the bearings, apparently. As the up-and-down of the pair reacting in opposite directions got out of synch, the first pair started another pair of generators doing the same thing in the same station. Before long the entire station was ramping up and down in opposition to another station. The whole grid started experiencing a frequency cycle with the stations, which used the frequency on the grid to set their own generators in alignment, each leaping up and down trying to match the phase of the oscillating grid.

      The whole thing collapsed. Everyone disconnected everything. The next problem was the whole grid had never been off since it was built. No one knew how to begin. Using the (battery-powered) phone system, calls bounced around with the eventual decision being to start the oldest station first. They were then brought on line in the order they were built, using their respective original phase alignment protocols. As the available total power increased, the loads were connected.

      This type of problem exists in the solar and wind turbine sectors which depend on a signal from the grid to control the inverters. It is no mean feat to start a grid with hundreds of sources, each of which needs “direction”.

  4. Over 50% of the electricity had been coming from asynchronous generators (wind), and so the grid was in a very precarious state and was very vulnerable to any large generator falling over.

    Perhaps our latest energy minister (whoever the current incumbent is) ought to be made aware of this and should be issuing warnings to all consumers that we have entered a new era of blackouts.

    All those previous energy ministers were correct when they said that blackouts would not be occurring on their watch – they kept on kicking the can down the road for the next energy minister to deal with.

    Buy home generator futures.

    • Perhaps the operators, quite reasonably, “game” the system. There was a a lot of wind Thursday and Friday as a storm went up the West side of the British Isles. On Friday it was less windy. I’m guessing that the windmill operators were cashing in on Friday, by supplying 10GW. I think this is the highest sustained figure achieved for UK wind, by a wide margin:it’s typically 5GW. For the last 36 hours, the power supplied by wind exceeded that supplied by gas: possibly the first time this has ever happened “since records began”. I guess that operators were cashing in on the subsidies offered by meeting the average demand and the grid was now over half dependent on the asynchronous (i.e. wind) generators. Or perhaps the National Grid was “stress testing” by seeing what would happen if over half the demand was met by wind.
      https://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

      PS: A quick look at the National Grid Status shows that wind is still (10am, 10/Aug/2019) exceeding gas because of a combination of the receding storm and the low demand on Saturday. Notice how on Thursday the wind contribution dropped to zero, presumably because the windmills had to be feathered in the high wind. Thursday was very windy with severe weather warnings and many outdoor events cancelled.

    • Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is Andrea Leadsom. I think she’s a sceptic.

  5. It’s interesting that we aren’t told what has happened…

    A bit like WW2, when you weren’t told which cities had been bombed.. .

    • The news said something on the lines of “2 power stations went offline simultaneously “ I was wondering, whether wind power had a role in this, as we’ve very strong winds and thus a big chunk of our power from this source.

      • It does – one of the plants to fail was a wind farm.

        This UK power cut has similarities with the South Australia one – high winds causing wind generated electricity to surge before being suddenly cut off when winds got too high.

  6. Welcome to the future of renewables supplying too high a percentage of the grid with asynchronous electricity. The new definition of demand side management.

    • The key question: How many black outs will occur before even the media complains, and points out wind is not a good idea?

  7. From the Australian power cut, the typical response is going to be “this shows how unreliable fossil fuels are” … but the fact is that May’s barmy politicians told fossil fuel generators that there was no future and so they’ve stopped investing in reliable plant.

    This power cut was entirely due to the insane BIG-GREEN sponsored politicians

  8. It’s not clear so far whether the loss of the Hornsea wind farm in the North Sea was a planned switch-off because the forecast progress of the storm was expected to make the windmills inoperable or was an abrupt loss. Presumably Little Barford gas-fired was fully functioning but could not make up the demand and automatically dropped out or could not be quickly re-connected. Sizewell nuclear would just be kept at constant output. At least it wasn’t a complete “black start”, as in South Australia. It’s not the lack of wind that is the problem around the British Isles that causes problems so much as the excess.

    Notice the “Weekly Nuclear/Coal/CCGT/Wind” for Thursday, which is when the increasing wind was mostly over the south-west of the UK, before tracking North-East into the North Sea. Fortunately the events didn’t occur at a time of particularly high demand.
    https://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

    Doubtless Ofgem will thump the table, but it won’t alter the perception that the UK power system is now very fragile and vulnerable to storms.

    • Thanks for the link, informative.

      There was general reduction in wind production throughout Thursday but nothing big enough to stand out as a sudden grid level failure. Gas took up the slack.

      Had the enviro loonies not shut down the large modern clean coal plant that was under construction in Kingsnorth Kent , this probably would not have happened.

    • That storm hit France, Brittany, Alsace, hard. Funny, it does not appear to have a popular name. Anyway it would be good to see if the continent weathered such windiness, and if so ,why.
      Could it be that with all Macron’s greenie talk, nuclear saved France?
      Brexit should not mean nuclear exit!

  9. Success!!

    We have successfully decarbonised a large Western economy 100% for a few hours. Welcome to the future…

  10. I am glad the outages hit London might make people think about reliable supply. But what surprises me is that no British company owns those generators. I though renewables were going to make supply more robust.

  11. If only planners had listened to our moral guardians and built more windmills and solar panels (I believe Solyndra had two or three going spare) then this could have all been avoided.

  12. Lucky national demand was low. If it had been winter? I fear for my mythical granny in her unheated room on a dark cold windless night.

    • Paradoxically in winter we might have been better off, because they would have been running most of the reliable CCGT capacity to meet the much higher level of demand. Even if a similar amount of generation had been lost, higher inertia would have slowed the frequency decline and allowed more time for other generators to pick up the slack. Dinorwig did its bit, but it takes 12 seconds to get up to speed – seconds it didn’t have, aside from being in the wrong place to make up the shortfall without the grid re-routing supplies which can cause problems of its own.

  13. We are experiencing some minor technical difficulties with the national power grid just at present so please rely on your backup generators until normal power is restored. Assuming you are in possession of the appropriate quantity of carbon credits of course.

  14. The BBC blames every bad impact of weather on Global Warming.

    Strangely, this bad impact of high wind is not blamed on anything.

    They must know they are misleading the public.

  15. Oddly , this major event is already gone from the guardian front page. More interested in promoting revolt in HK than the failure of basic infrastructure in the UK.

  16. What is very clear is that people will not put up with this. The increased dependency of transport infrastructure on electricity makes it fatally sensitive to outages.

    Yesterday was quite a windy day and of course not all wind farms can cope well with strong winds. I wonder if this explains the widespread nature of the outages?

    • The widespread nature with a non-obvious pattern is probably load-shedding by frequency-sensitive relays that all fire at different values, either set so or because of the natural error band in setting/activating. The frequency dropped to 48.889Hz at 15:53:45 UTC (15 sec time resolution). The 1 second data might be even more interesting when we get to see it (currently the public archive only goes to April).

  17. Unstable Grid with minimal reliable backup. Thanks to the loony greens. Well done, ‘saving the planet’ twits.

  18. This is very, very unusual for the UK power network.

    Note that latest information shows the Barford gas gen plant went out first.

    • Not quite. The gas plant went to idle first, then Hornsea went off line, and the gas plant then went off line trying to ramp up.

      It is a guess at this point, but from the noise just before the crash, from the wind industry, they were perhaps trying to set a record for wind production; hence the idling of the gas plant.

    • The Barford gas generator cut out because it’s contract dictated that it must do so when wind generation which has precedence was available.
      The wind farm according to a spokesperson cut out entirely in accordance with it’s operating parameters, but which parameter was not stated.
      Either a sudden drop in wind caused an involuntary cessation of production or excessive wind speeds caused an immediate shut down to to prevent damage to the turbines.
      The politicians against all sane advice have opened Pandora’s box. Fortunately this first manifestation was limited in it’s effect, subsequent blackouts will result in riots in the cities as their entitled inhabitants are brought face to face with the consequences of their ignorant bellowing to save the planet.

      • That turns out not to be true. It seems the report was the result of a Bloomberg journalist pressing RWE’s German head of PR for information and an internal failure to communicate with someone who really knew what was happening in the UK, but instead rang someone who knew something about the power station’s contract.

    • I thought you would do that–defend wind and solar as having nothing appreciable to do with the blackout. Read the posts earlier on this thread, and you might learn something of why “renewables” are not well suited to grid usage beyond a certain point of penetration.

      • “learn something of why “renewables” are not well suited to grid usage beyond a certain point of penetration.”

        Yes, and the UK looks to be getting close to that point.

        A few well-timed blackouts (doing minimal damage) might wake up the politicians to the fact that they have a problem on their hands and the path they are following of increasing the use of windmills and industrial solar is making things worse, not better.

        They will probably have to learn the hard way. Let’s hope it’s not too hard on the population.

    • It is only unusual because for the first time we have too much asynchronous wind and not enough synchronous generation connected to the grid.

    • There is strong evidence to suggest that Hornsea lied by 7.5 minutes in reporting the timing of its outage: it was almost certainly the first to go. See my main post below.

    • “Note that latest information shows the Barford gas gen plant went out first.”

      I would have bet money that you or one of the other “Defenders of the Windmill” would say that! And here you are. 🙂

  19. This UK power cut has similarities with the South Australia one – high winds causing wind generated electricity to surge before being suddenly cut off when winds got too high.

    • Slightly different as in SA pylons collapsed under the load leading to a cascade effect. Not sure any power generation type would have fared less IMO.

        • Gosh! Just read some of the comments…

          One poster by the name of “Thucydides” (Ancient Greek science historian) categorically states that CO2 at ~410ppm/v is way too high. Others who post on climate related articles at the SMH also state that CO2 *MUST* drop back to between 180 – 280ppm/v to save the climate/planet. Others claim more CO2 does not lead to better plant growth. Others have stated that we breathe only O2 from the air, forgetting the air contains mostly N2.

          Not sure where these people get their information from.

      • The AEMO report on the SA outage, said the biggest problem is that the ratio of dispatchable energy to demand, needs to be MORE than 1.

        In other words, if there had been enough dispatchable energy (coal, gas), then the black out would been avoided.

        Note how Wind/Solar figure into that calculation: It is assumed to be zero.

      • You need to read up on what actually happened in SA. It was faulty settings on wind farm control systems that caused the blackout.

      • Wrong Patrick. Yes, 2-3 pylons/lines failed a couple of seconds before the wind generators shut down, but when you look at where these pylons were located, you quickly realise that they weren’t on the main lines to Adelaide. It was the faulty low-speed settings on the wind generators that caused them to shut down prematurely, and there was insufficient alternative energy, South Australia having blown up its main coal power station.

        • I stand corrected. As I am sure you are aware, Aussie media leaves a lot of information out of events like this leaving out facts and the truth. Thanks.

          • Shortly after the blackout occurred, there was a concerted effort by the South Australian state premier and the renewables companies and their supporters to deflect the problem away from the wind generator failures. This misdirection is still occurring today. The turbine shutdown wind speeds were set too low – I believe around 50 mph. In any case, the reliance on too much energy from wind without sufficient baseload power caused a major blackout, and that part seems to resonate with what’s happened in the UK.

  20. Clearly the media slipped up reporting it was a wind farm suddenly going offline that precipitated the failure, quickly followed by a conventional station. It will be interesting how the eco-idiots spin their way out of this one. The BBC actually reporting a wind farm failure – someone didn’t do their editing job there it seems. There will be some internal discussions no doubt.

  21. Just more “Extinction rebellion”, hilarious what happens when you actually take them at their word.

    A little “Extinction” of the lights, a log jam of ‘lectric trains requiring a reboot because the poor darling singe-point-of-failure onboard computers can’t cope with something unexpected, the Victoria line OUT, only for a few hours and you will see the rebellion pretty fast!

    New name “infinitely renewable-power-cuts”.

    Where is GRIFF when we need him to pipe up?

    • A few years ago when, LMAO, snow caused chaos on Britain’s rain network, they engaged the services of a steam engine. An A4 4-6-2, burning coal!

        • Thanks for that. I was thinking it was a Pacific class but I knew it’s wheel arrangement and that it was a new engine not a restored one.

  22. Well, that just shows up what people who know about power generation have been telling us for decades – wind power simply isn’t reliable enough to generate the “base load” that an industrial civilization requires. It could be even worse if it happened in the middle of winter.

    The idiot politicians of the UK, though, would rather let civilization collapse than try to fix the problem. With their fondness for Extinction Rebellion and their non-existent “climate crisis,” they have all gone to the extreme green lunatic fringe.

    Time for some enterprising group to grab the nettle, and come out uncompromisingly in favour of our industrial civilization, and against the green agenda and its pushers like the UN and the EU. I wonder if the Brexit Party has the balls to go that way?

    • I believe Nigel Farage is sceptical about AGW but I don’t know whether it’s Brexit Party policy.

  23. Not so “sustainable” now.
    That idiot ex-Prime Minister Theresa May declared we must all be de-carbonized by 2050. The bill? A mere £1.5 Trillion.

    The climate change industry is aiming for absolute control over absolutely everything we do from how we move around to how we eat and keep warm, and so many people are taken in by it. I would not care and would be happy to leave these gullible fools to their delusions but it is costing us all a fortune and those who don’t believe the myth of climate change are not allowed to whisper their views on the most popular public forums; they are shut down by those who cannot and will not debate because they cannot back up what they say. Anyone who has bothered to read the Paris Climate Change Accord can see that it is not worth the paper it is written on. If more people read it, especially the “Extinction Rebellion” idiots, (they might need to have it explained to them), we could consign the whole damned farce to history and get on with our lives.

    • “The climate change industry is aiming for absolute control over absolutely everything”.

      Quite Sasha, it’s all a power play.

    • I think the bill is likely to turn out to be a multiple of £1.5 trillion if we ever go through with it. It would probably take £2 trillion just to raise insulation standards of the housing stock (almost enough to rebuild it completely). Of course the economic consequences would also be disastrous. Wasting money on that scale reduces economic productivity and real incomes, and destroys competitiveness in international trade. However, if you have no income you can’t afford the imports of things you no longer produce.

    • The display there is a current display – showing only the latest readings [output and demand].
      To examine past events, it is necessary to download data [top left, a light blue download button]; this is in 5 minute intervals [like the updates to the gauges].
      Having done this, it is clear that about 1600-1605 GMT [so 1700-1705 British Summer Time], a fairly interesting – if not unexpected – event took place. Wind and CC Gas power dropped very sharply; Hydro leapt by three fold, some 600 MW.

      My take is that, although this could be a directly wind-related failure, and noting the reluctance of some sites to blame the unicorn-dust, there is not, yet, any clear cause of this put out to the public.

      Auto

  24. The journalist Ross Clark writing in Saturday’s Telegraph reports: “Just before the power cut at 4.17pm yesterday, ESO (i.e. National Grid) put out a tweet boasting a new record: that 47.6% of the nation’s electricity was being generated by wind.”
    Now, call me a cynic but I am deeply suspicious about why the BBC etc hasn’t been trumpeting this “unprecedented” statistic all over the planet, every hour. Could it be that this electricity breakdown will prove to have resulted from the very significant instability of wind power that grid engineers have been warning our ridiculous governments about for years?

    • Spot on. It seems they were prepared to risk low levels of grid inertia in pursuit of the record, which came to bite them on the posterior when the wind farm transmission line to shore tripped out and they couldn’t slow the decline in grid frequency fast enough to prevent blackouts. Now they’ve done their little experiment, expect them to be more judicious about curtailing wind in low demand situations and running more spinning reserve and inertia providing conventional generators.

  25. And many cars lost to the floods as well.

    What happens to a fleet of electric cars when they’re submerged? Not an unusual occurrence in the UK.

  26. From alBBC

    “National Grid has said it will “learn the lessons” after nearly one million people across England and Wales lost power on Friday.

    But director of operations Duncan Burt told the BBC that its systems “worked well” after the “incredibly rare event” of two power stations disconnecting.”

    He said he did not believe that a cyber-attack or unpredictable wind power generation were to blame.

    Nice inclusion of the diversionary “cyber-attack”. No doubt the Russians will be fingered in the fullness of time.

    • Wonderful mental pictures of Russians being fingered. Reminds me of the wartime news headline “British push bottles up Germans”

  27. The most likely weak link in the chain, seems to be the reliance on the power from the offshore wind farm, Hornsea One. It is still being built, but is in parts operational.
    This statement was made recently by the owners. “However, in the half yearly results published earlier this week, president and chief executive Henrik Poulsen did sound a note of caution, stating how the company was “not fully satisfied with generation in the first half year where the number of outages and curtailments across the portfolio has been higher than normal”. Availability of the wind farm fleet dropped two per cent over like-for-like periods.”
    So it could be that in the dash for green, the National Grid relied on an as yet unproved power source.
    Good here, innit…_
    https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/grimsby-news/huge-uk-power-cut-involved-3195918

  28. I wasn’t stuck on a train in London so can be more sanguine about it, though it was annoying that neighbors alarms went off when power came back on.
    Perhaps it was a good thing in that it reminds everyone about the importance of a stable electricity supply and that politicians and greens mess with it at their peril.

  29. A couple of years ago the head of the National Grid said in an interview that in future we would only have electricity when it was available. Welcome to his world.

  30. Couldn’t happen to nicer people on that funny island!
    A great week it were!

    First BA IT system goes t..ts up,so those who wanted to go ON HOLIDAY were stranded.
    Next thing that happens, people who want to gGO HOME FROM WORK on Friday eve can’t because the grid goes t..ts up.

    It all smacks of a country of maximum (in)-competence, like another greeny spotted peeing in the pees to give “added flavour” to the mix.
    Where’s John Cleese to give the final laugh to this all?

    Lucky they’re leaving the EU, no doubt the Macron greeny toad will push the premium price of all them VOLTS crossing the channel from Frog nuclear ‘lectric thru the roof, once he gets it in his silly mind to punish the Brits for leaving.

    • More than 50% of of the UK power supply capacity is in EU companies ownership
      EON – German utility
      EDF – French state
      Scottish Power – Spanish Iberdrola
      NPower -German Innogy

      • So they had better start behaving if they want to continue doing business here. There’s been plenty of companies trying to bully the UK Government and UK Voters about the terrible consequences of us leaving. Maybe they should also start familiarising themselves with WTO trade rules.

        And on the other side of the trade coin, like the rest of the world, (sorry about the incoming shouting) WE DON’T NEED PERMISSION TO BUY ANYTHING FROM EU COUNTRIES. WE BUY MORE FROM THEM, THAN THEY DO FROM US.

      • Add in Statkraft/Equinor, Ørsted (the owner of Hornsea wind farm) and many others in the renewables game.

    • John Cleese left the UK some years ago because of the very things you talk of. He’s taken up residence in the West Indies.

  31. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/06/11/pge-wins-court-case-allowing-it-to-renegotiate-34-billion-in-renewable-energy-contracts/#comment-2721666

    Told you so – 17 YEARS AGO!

    The four most beautiful words in our common language: “I told you so.”
    – Gore Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/07/23/irony-can-be-so-ironic-grid-storage-increases-carbon-emissions/#comment-2412177

    We published in 2002:

    “THE ULTIMATE AGENDA OF PRO-KYOTO ADVOCATES IS TO ELIMINATE FOSSIL FUELS, BUT THIS WOULD RESULT IN A CATASTROPHIC SHORTFALL IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY – THE WASTEFUL, INEFFICIENT ENERGY SOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY KYOTO ADVOCATES SIMPLY CANNOT REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS.”

    Source:
    DEBATE ON THE KYOTO ACCORD
    PEGG, reprinted in edited form at their request by several other professional journals, the Globe and Mail and La Presse in translation, by Baliunas, Patterson and MacRae.
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf

    Wind and solar power do NOT contribute significant economic (dispatchable) electric power to the grid.

    This is a simple, proved hypothesis, yet tens of trillions of dollars have been wasted globally on this green energy nonsense.

    So next time, good people, please listen to your Uncle Allan, who cares for your well-being, and does not want you to waste trillions on foolish green energy schemes/scams – just to drive up energy costs, reduce grid reliability, and needlessly increase Winter Deaths – that is the job of our idiot leftist politicians – if you ever voted for any of these leftist idiots, please just do not vote anymore because you are ‘way too stupid to vote – thank you for your kind consideration!

    To try to get this message across to the lower-end of the intellectual spectrum, especially our politicians, I rephrased the message about a decade ago:

    “WIND POWER – IT DOESN’T JUST BLOW – IT SUCKS!”

    “SOLAR POWER – STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE!”

    It seems to s-l-o-w-l-y be working! 🙂

    ____________________________

  32. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/29/collapse-of-wind-power-threatens-germanys-green-energy-transition/#comment-2756579

    Dennis Sandberg wrote:
    “Additional renewable’s for the German grid can only further destabilize it. Each additional 1000 MW of renewable capacity enables retiring 5 MW of “Fossil Fuels”, a net 5% fuel saving.”

    All correct, thank you Dennis. These facts were written in the highly credible report “Wind Report 2005”, published that year by E.ON Netz of Germany, then the largest wind power generator in the world. That report is cited below and the pertinent words are quoted verbatim.

    We knew all this in 2005 – I published similar thoughts in 2002, and yet here we are, with ten of trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of lives squandered, based on false climate hysteria and intermittent, diffuse green energy nonsense.

    So my question is:
    ARE OUR GOVERNMENT LEADERS AND THEIR ADVISORS REALLY THAT STUPID, as even today they parrot global warming and green energy falsehoods, or do they have a darker, more sinister agenda?

    My conclusion is that they are knowingly trying to destroy our Western economies, to turn our countries into serfdoms with themselves at the helm, the new kings of a totalitarian world.

    If you think this is an outlandish hypothesis, look around. More than half the people in the world already live under such oppression. Venezuela and Zimbabwe are fully destroyed, as is much of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Continental Europe is failing due to green energy fiascos and unchecked immigration, and Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA are all under attack. The popular media keeps repeating the same green energy falsehoods, and suppresses and distorts dissent from the few skeptics who dare to speak out.

    Canada, led by a child-prince with no apparent education or intellect and surrounded by ultra-green, uber-left energy advisors, is not Canada anymore. We are Canazuela, part way to the economic ruin that has devastated Venezuela, once the most prosperous country in Latin America due to its heavy-oil resources.

    Regards, Allan
    ____________________

    Reference: E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005
    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/eonwindreport2005.pdf
    (apparently no longer available from E.ON Netz website).

    This is a really old post I wrote – probably circa 2005 to 2008:

    Quote:

    The Duke has it right – the fatal flaw of wind power is that it requires almost 100% backup capacity from conventional power stations.

    This is even true of very large, country-wide distributed grids.

    Willis, to verify, check Figure 7 of the E.On Netz Wind Report 2005 that I emailed you today, which refers to Germany’s power grid.

    E.On Netz was in 2005, and may still be, the largest wind power generator in the world.

    (Quote from Wind Report 2005)

    Fig 7. Falling substitution capacity

    The more wind power capacity is in the grid, the lower the percentage of traditional generation it can replace.

    As wind power capacity rises, the lower availability of the wind farms determines the reliability of the system as a whole to an ever increasing extent. Consequently the greater reliability of traditional power stations becomes increasingly eclipsed.

    As a result, the relative contribution of wind power to the guaranteed capacity of our supply system up to the year 2020 will fall continuously to around 4% (FIGURE 7).

    In concrete terms, this means that in 2020, with a forecast wind power capacity of over 48,000MW (Source: dena grid study), 2,000MW of traditional power production can be replaced by these wind farms.

    (End of quote)

    Also, wind power can dangerously destabilize the entire power grid. See Figure 5 & 6 in the same report.

    (Quote)

    FIGURE 5 shows the annual curve of wind power feed-in in the E.ON control area for 2004, from which it is possible to derive the wind power feed-in during the past year:

    1. The highest wind power feed-in in the E.ON grid was just above 6,000MW for a brief period, or put another way the feed-in was around 85% of the installed wind power capacity at the time.

    2. The average feed-in over the year was 1,295MW, around one fifth of the average installed wind power capacity over the year.

    3. Over half of the year, the wind power feed-in was less than 14% of the average installed wind power capacity over the year.

    The feed-in capacity can change frequently within a few hours. This is shown in FIGURE 6, which reproduces the course of wind power feedin during the Christmas week from 20 to 26 December 2004.

    Whilst wind power feed-in at 9.15am on Christmas Eve reached its maximum for the year at 6,024MW, it fell to below 2,000MW within only 10 hours, a difference of over 4,000MW. This corresponds to the capacity of 8 x 500MW coal fired power station blocks. On Boxing Day, wind power feed-in in the E.ON grid fell to below 40MW.

    Handling such significant differences in feed-in levels poses a major challenge to grid operators.
    (End of quote)

    This reliable information has been available for years, and has been ignored. I know this is true, because I published it online and in newspaper articles, starting in 2002.

    A trillion dollars [now tens of trillions of dollars] has been squandered worldwide on climate hysteria, much of it on nonsensical wind power. Jesus wept.

    *****************

  33. If you look at https://gridwatch.co.uk/ the revamped site, today – Sat 10th August, and look at yesterdays chart, titled “Yesterday (10 Minute Averages)” and look at 16:10, (times are GMT) you will see a dip in wind output.

    Wind output and times are:
    GMT GW
    15:50 8.92
    16:00 8.05
    16:10 7.94
    16:20 8.14
    16:30 8.43
    16:40 8.53
    16:50 8.48
    17:00 8.45

    You can see the averaged lowest output was 16:10 (17:10 local) but averages can hide a lot of data.
    Wind was providing around 8.9 before the problem occurred.

    Currently it looks like the wind farm tripped and they could not make up the loss quickly enough so they shed some load (London!!). Not sure why the second generator tripped. It is not visible in the gridwatch averaged output. But conventional generators can always respond more quickly than wind, so any conventional loss of a few seconds would be missed from our view.

    One strange ting the BBC and sky news reported was that when a train stops due to loss of track power, a technician is needed to reboot the train systems. Bizarre! (that is each train) which is why the trains took a long time to get going again after just a 20 minute power down.

    I used to chuckle at the great South Australian black out, but it has now reached the shores of the UK.

    • Apparently the gas-fired turbine was in idle mode, and couldn’t ramp up fast enough to meet the sudden demand so shut down. Welcome to the Brave New Greenie World.

    • This is from http://www.bmreports.com ‘Generation by fuel type’.
      Time CCGT Wind Pumped (Dinorwig)
      15:50:00 8473 8948 293
      15:55:00 8547 8896 313
      16:00:00 8172 8037 958
      16:05:00 8086 8061 582
      16:10:00 8051 7912 480

      Times in UTC on 2019/08/09. The numbers are MW. So, both the CCGT and Wind dropped preciptately. Dinorwig pumped storage picked up some of the shortfall but couldn’t prevent the frequency drop, then other capacity picked up the load on a slower timescale but by that time a lot of the load had already been shed. Why London came off so badly I don’t know. They must have their frequency-sensitive shedding relays set rather sensitively (lots of frequency-sensitive load that would be damaged otherwise?)

    • The odd thing about the Gridwatch data and the BM Reports data on which it is based is that there is a disconnect between the reported times of the drop in power generation and the real event, which started at 15:52:32Z (Zulu, or GMT), as revealed by frequency data. Just one of the questions that National Grid need to answer.

    • I think they have to re-boot the train’s computer because everything on-board is computer-controlled. Wasn’t it nice when we relied on resistors and contactors?

  34. Imagine if this power failure happened during a cold winter – it will, unless drastic steps are taken ASAP.

    This green energy debacle was all predictable AND PREDICTED – by me and others.

    Regards, Allan
    _________________________

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/02/10/ee-democrat-climate-change-committee-members-own-shares-in-fossil-fuel-companies/#comment-2621626

    Excerpt from the article:
    “I don’t agree with the Democrat public position on climate change, I think genuine action to shut down fossil fuel would be terrible for the US economy, which is currently booming thanks to the flood of cheap energy unleashed by President Trump and the previous Republican Congress and current Republican dominated Senate.”

    It is even clearer than that, for the USA and for the world:

    Fossil fuels comprise fully 85% of global primary energy, unchanged in decades, and unlikely to change in future decades. Ban fossil fuels and ~everyone in the developed world is dead in a month. The remaining 15% of global primary energy is almost all hydro and nuclear.

    Despite many trillions in squandered subsidies, global green energy has increased from above 1% to below 2% is recent decades.

    My concern, as an energy expert, is that intermittent energy from wind and/or solar power cannot supply the grid with reliable, uninterrupted power. These so-called green energy technologies are not green and produce little useful (dispatchable) energy, because they require almost 100% conventional backup from fossil fuels, nuclear or hydro for periods when the wind does not blow and the Sun does not shine.

    Green energy does not even reduce CO2 emissions, because of the need for almost 100% conventional spinning reserve. There is no current grid-scale “super-battery” technology that can economically solve the intermittency problem, except for Pumped Storage that requires special siting that exists in only a few places in the world. My home province of Alberta covers 662,000 sq. km in area, larger than many countries, and we have exactly ZERO sites suitable for pumped storage – we have no sites suitable for hydro dams with a large reservoir at the bottom of the dam.

    SO HERE IS MY “EXPERT SOLUTION” TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF INTERMITTENCY IN WIND AND SOLAR POWER:

    1. Build your wind or solar power system and connect it to the grid.
    2. Build your back-up system consisting of 100% equivalent capacity in gas turbine generators.
    3. Using high explosives, blow your wind or solar power system all to hell.
    4. Run your back-up gas turbine generators 24/7.
    5. To save even more money, skip steps 1 and 3. 🙂

    A final note of humour – the extremists are now claiming that this numbing cold spell is caused by global warming – yes, really! But none of the global warming alarmists predicted this cold. They said “kids would not know what snow looked like anymore” and other such nonsense.

    In 2002 I predicted a return to global cooling, such as was experienced from ~1940 to 1977, to recommence by 2020 to 2030. Solar activity in SC24 has crashed – it is the lowest solar cycle since the Dalton Minimum circa 1800, when much of Napoléon’s Grande Armée of 680,000 men froze to death in the Russian campaign.

    Try to stay warm during this current cold blast from the North. Cold kills, and cold weather kills 20 times more people globally than hot and warm weather. Excess Winter Deaths in the USA average about 100,000 per year – equivalent to two 9-11’s per week for 17 weeks every year. Remember that when someone tells you “we’re all going to die from global warming”. Earth is cooler-than-optimum for humanity and the environment.

    Regards to all, Allan

    • Great plan, Allan!
      I love it!

      It could be like “Cinco De Maya” celebrations. Only we burn wind and solar effigies instead.

  35. And the running operating grid reserve at this time was ? Like 6% or less ? Is this is the dirty little secret behind it all ?

    Another uneasy question is how to provide predictable reliable grid reserve with weather dependent energy sources.

    • They should have had at least contingency on losing the French interconnector which was running at 1GW at the time. But what caught them out was that the lack of grid inertia was such that the frequency fell to load shedding levels before any reserve could get going, and the loss of the CCGT about 30 seconds after the wind farm became too much.

    • I think the problem was the slew rate rather than the absolute loss of power.

      Normally losing 1.5GW with a demand of 30GW or what have you would just result in a lot of spinning mass slowly spinning down. Giving time to ramp up hydro and any spinning reserve; What seems to have happened in this case was that there was so little conventional kit online that what there was spun down hard, and that made for a massive drop in frequency. At that point that tripped load shedding. And I suspect that when load shed areas were reconnected, the same thing happened again,. because there were a lot of blackouts at different times.

      I have it on authority that the grid is supposed to be able to cope with this. And there have been plenty of ‘assurances’ that it can.

      There may be some good news. The current minster in charge of this is Andrea Leadsom, and she actually has been heard using the word ‘dispatch’ as if she understood what it meant.

      I think she will get to the bottom of this.

      • In other worlds, they ran out of altitude and speed both at the same time when they lost some engines.

        So what was the meaning of cruising the national grid that low ?

        Hey, these are fundamental energy things one learns at school.

        Gimme a break already, random weather dependent sources produce random weather dependent contributions. How do one master Cos(phi), the reactive power that is, in a grid powered by PWM driven inverters attached to random sources ?

        The whole things gets downright scary, imagine, hospitals, schools, tunnels, airports, the entire safety factor of a reliable grid shifting that close to zero.

        No need tactical war operations, green goons are top-notch commando force in strategic sabotage.

  36. Britain is locked in a deadly power struggle between incompetence and deceit. Will one of these triumph or will some kind of coalition emerge? A brutal drama to rival Game of Thrones.

    • Wrong.
      Britain is locked in a deadly power struggle between incompetence and deceit, and people who are desperately trying to restore democracy and fact based pragmatic policies.

  37. “WUT: Elizabeth May Says Humanity Must “Transition Off Fossil Fuels” Before The (Canadian) October Election”

    https://www.spencerfernando.com/2019/08/09/wut-elizabeth-may-says-humanity-must-transition-off-fossil-fuels-before-the-october-election/?fbclid=IwAR3aqryDcfQRJtuuj0kePTVaB1ezwuheGNB7Y4wNhgozaiYscUtO0sQn6SU

    Seriously ? Now we only have 2 months left ?

    If by some illegal miracle the liberals get re-elected, then America, i’m coming back home to Trump’s World…

  38. Get Used to it.
    This will be a common problem with “Renewable Energy.

    If you do not have a UPS for your desktop. Buy one.

  39. “One strange ting the BBC and sky news reported was that when a train stops due to loss of track power, a technician is needed to reboot the train systems”

    You should see what happens when their stoopid onboard computer goes down.
    (single point of failure land on steroids!).

    The train is forbidden to move because the heads-up display goes out.
    “ealff and safety” have then decreed, if the signals can’t be displayed on the !^@^!~@ heads-up display, the train is not safe enough to be driven… I Kid you not!

    So some numpty has to come along and try to reboot the dang thing (which may not work!).
    Of course the fact trains have been able to do this all since the 19th century don’t matter to the HSE.
    They have decreed, therefore the train will not move.

    I lived thru one of these, then again stoopid onboard computer dropped out the lights further down the line (at night), so IDEM happened all over again.
    With this mentality no progress can ever be made, and we haven’t even thought of what happens if there is a “carrington event”!
    Will be same old story + “we are learning lessons” crap.

  40. Is it possibly that it is becoming clear that the stampede of stupids is now trampling all over the lives of ordinary people?

  41. weird:
    in may 2008 similar happened:
    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/41426/nationalgrid-systemeventsof27mayfordswg16july.pdf

    except 2 stations gave total of 1582MW lost and other back up systems failed
    outage corrected after 7 hours
    Yesterday
    Little Barford Power Station is a 740 MWe gas-fired power station
    Hornsea 1.2GW wind farm
    disconnect almost simultaneously
    1.8 GW lost and they have learned nothing since 2008.

    and of course even more people affected

    Power outage as seen by grid watch

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2jmQxMr_OUA/XU7NwCwIHQI/AAAAAAAACY8/1-lcQvMGQskKToCJzXoWVyhFVjXrnkHtACLcBGAs/s1600/power%2Boutage.png

    of interest:
    total loss 1.5 GW approx.

    Why did the pumped storage cover losses of only 750MW temporarily when 1.3GW was available.

    If the system cannot handle 1.5GW loss then what happens if Hinkley C trips 1.6GW per reactor. 3.2GW total.

    • You have be to careful with understanding the data, which are only given at 5 minute intervals. Events kicked off in the middle of one of those, and a minute later large load shedding cuts had come into force, so the demand to be met was reduced by the time the interval ended.

      The problem really was that the system was unable to respond rapidly enough to prevent the grid frequency reaching blackout trip levels.

  42. I’ve done a lot of research on this, looking at the data from National Grid at BM Reports, Gridwatch, and a very helpful frequency chart at 1 second resolution from Upside Energy, a small company providing experimental token grid stabilisation services using distributed systems (a potential precursor to such things as V2G). You can see that their effort was very prompt but puny at under 6MW for about 3 minutes in this chart they tweeted

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EBirNtrX4AArFYy.png:large

    Here’s what I found:

    I think the conclusive answer to the question is yes – the blackout’s primary cause was the sudden loss of output from Hornsea wind farm, though the precise cause of that remains unknown at this stage: likely candidates are a failure at the offshore transmission platform where the voltage is boosted to 220kV, somewhere along the cable to shore, or at the grid connection point (at Killingholme on the Humber) onshore. The really damning evidence comes in this tweet that shows grid frequency based on 1 second data:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EBiv7jxXUAM5KZl.jpg:large

    The extremely rapid initial drop in frequency at 15:52:32Z to below the statutory minimum of 49.5Hz is compatible with the drop in wind generation of about 850MW recorded in grid 5 minute data (although there appear to be timing discrepancies between the frequency and power data – but I would regard the frequency data as conclusive, especially with wind). That is followed by a small bounce as the grid starts to try to recover, before a further smaller collapse in frequency to the nadir at around 48.8Hz, which is entirely consistent with the smaller drop in CCGT output recorded in grid data that suggest that Little Barford was probably operating at about 50% of its 727MW capacity. There is a major grid transmission line that runs from Keadby near Killingholme past Little Barford at St. Neots and on to the transmission ring around the North of London. It is almost certain that this power line was delivering power from the wind farm towards London. When that failed, there would have been a sudden extra demand on Little Barford, which would have caused its frequency to drop and that (if not the already rapid drop in grid frequency) would have tripped it out of operation.

    Do not be deceived by the reported outage times on the plants. The formal record shows that Little Barford announced it had zero capacity at 15:55:37Z w.e.f. 15:57:40Z (compare with the chart above). Hornsea is shown as having zero capacity w.e.f. 16:00:00Z – which is a highly unlikely timing, except that it coincides with the start of the next settlement period. That report was not submitted until 16:19:48Z, over 20 minutes after the main event. By 16:00Z the grid frequency chart shows that balance had been restored by the combination of load shedding and running up Dinorwig pumped storage to nearly 1GW, OCGT rapid response, and diesel STOR. It seems that management decided not to report the real time of the loss of power for reasons that might vary between inadequate monitoring systems, or a failure to understand the need to report the true time rather than the next half hour settlement period time, or simply to lie to cover up having reviewed the evidence.

    That these disturbances caused such a rapid and severe frequency drop that triggered load shedding is entirely due to the lack of grid inertia caused by the high proportion of generation from wind and solar, which had been running at over 40% most of the day. A 2016 presentation from National Grid has a chart that shows the relationship between the rate of change of frequency that can be expected for different amounts of load loss at different levels of grid inertia: it suggests that they were sailing far too close to the wind. You can think of grid inertia as the flywheel energy stored in the rotating heavy generator turbines. It is measured in GVA.s, which you can think of as gigawatt-seconds. Divide by the level of grid demand, and it tells you how long the energy would last if it instantaneously could become the only source of power on the grid. That gives a measure of the response speed required from backup generation (spinning reserve, fast start, grid batteries etc.) if grid frequency is to stay within limits that avoid blackouts. You have to suspect that at Grid HQ in Wokingham, they will be thinking about having a larger level of spinning reserve, and about curtailing wind to ensure that there is more inertia.

    I note that today the formal record of the timing of the shutdowns has magically disappeared. More questions to be answered.

    • Yesterday was a very windy day, earlier in the day the NG was bragging that 50% of electricity was generated by wind farms. A VIP visited the NG operations during mid afternoon. Question is: did the NG take out some other generator out to demonstrate the renewable potential?
      Later in the afternoon wind in the N. Sea got to strong and the wind farm may had to power down, and during the process the nearby gas and steam-fired power station in Cambridgeshire took extra load and drooped out. Just sayin..

    • This is an excellent analysis.

      I would add one point. What went wrong with Dinorwig, why didn’t it kick in?

      Well Dinorwig did react, see Tractor Gent’s report of bm data above:
      Time CCGT Wind Pumped (Dinorwig)
      15:50:00 8473 8948 293
      15:55:00 8547 8896 313
      16:00:00 8172 8037 958
      16:05:00 8086 8061 582
      16:10:00 8051 7912 480
      (Allow for a UTC/BST discrepancy between these times and the plot you give above).

      Dinorwig was late. Why? Normally Dinorwig would have been set with at least one unit to shift from spin-gen to full power on an LF relay (probably set to something like 49.9 Hz) and another unit part-loaded at 150 MW with droop set to either 1 %, or even 0.5 % droop. There’s no sign of that happening.

      The bm reports show no sign of any response before 16:55 . I suspect NG TELEGRAPHED a request for extra power from Dinorwig sometime near to 16:55. That requires operator action in the Dinorwig control room, and a typical delay on that is between 30 and 60 S. So NOT Dinorwig’s fault.

      • I think the timestamps on the BM data are somewhat nominal in terms of the underlying reality, rather than publication time. I have also not been able to entirely clarify whether the data purport to represent the average over the preceding 5 minutes or an instantaneous measure, but I suspect the former. It is quite clear from the frequency chart that the event started at 15:52:32Z and response was started to haul the frequency back up again 30 seconds later before the second trip occurred reaching the nadir and load shed trip at 15:53:50Z. By 15:55:00Z frequency was back to 49.5Hz, and both Hornsea and Little Barford were completely out.

        • I don’t know whether the bm reports are spot or rolling averages either. But in either event, if Dinorwig had been properly carrying its usual amount of primary response, and whichever station tripped first, just one Dinorwig unit responding should have caught the frequency drop within 10 seconds. Allowing for the what looks like a much reduced system inertia, I would have expected that response to have brought the frequency back to no lower than 49.7 Hz.

          • Part of the problem was almost certainly how the transmission system was configured. When you lose a generator that is feeding a part of the system that is remote from Dinorwig you have to find a route to deliver power that won’t breach transmission constraints. Dinorwig is well placed to handle trips on Westernlink HVDC, but less well placed for meeting demand to the North of London. I suspect that grid configurations will have concentrated on the potential for losing 1-2GW on one of the interconnectors to the Continent as the biggest N-1 contingency. Sometimes a particular contingency can produce a very different feasible solution for transmission routing, and switching from one to the other can be complex.

            I note we now have a report that there have been several frequency incidents in recent months – they just managed to hold the line at 49.5Hz below which statutory obligations would have been breached.

            https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/aug/12/three-blackout-near-misses-in-three-months-says-national-grid

            The last month with 1 second frequency data posted at their website is April. Perhaps we can understand the posting delay for later months!

            The frequency chart does actually show that there was a real response well inside 30 seconds: some will have come from the available inertia anyway, and the fairly puny contributions of grid batteries that will have been triggered within a second. I’m sure we’ll get the nitty gritty on the nature of the response and the reasons for it in the final report.

      • It doesn’t add up
        The reply nesting is collapsing.
        Thanks for the reports of other frequency incidents – all grist to the mill.

  43. What do we have here? The National Grid Summer Outlook 2019 – Executive Summary

    Key messages – electricity
    • Low transmission demand and high volumes of low inertia generation can cause operational issues over the summer.
    • We will need to take day-to-day actions to manage system frequency in times of low demand. Usually this will involve working with flexible generation to reduce supply.

    https://www.nationalgrideso.com/document/140411/download

    They ignored their own advice it would seem.

  44. The monumental Stupid that underlies the notion of wind generation as a major component of saving the planet from deadly climate change or CO2 emissions, makes irony-based jokes nearly impossible. I suppose that I’ll keep trying.

    • Well, only the first phase in in operation. That’s 1.2GW, and the loss of wind generation appears to have been about 850MW.

    • John – disregard plant ratings. They aare only maximum numbers. Look at what each plant was doing in the half hour before the event, and look at the dispatch instructions. This is what other posters have done. That information is a lot more illuminating.

  45. There are many excellent technical comments above that could serve at the basis to an excellent WUWT Reference page about electric grids and electrical power!

    Kudos those with real experience and practical knowledge who contributed!

    Working with heavy machinery and major computing services acquainted me with the efforts taken to filter, control and supply consistent high quality power to meet their needs; but very little technical knowledge beyond that.

    A simple series summations about the whys and wherefores would go far in educating many.

  46. I watched the vid on the linked Guardian article. Seeing people walk along the railway tracks to get to the next station, I thought; treking along the tracks in high heals, that’s got to be fun. Can’t take your shoes off because the rocks are too nasty, but can’t walk normally either.

  47. Great news for a potential terrorist, knock out a small generator plant and bring the UK to its knees as there is no reliable backup generation

  48. It would be greatly appreciated if informed bloggers like “It doesn’t add up” would follow this through until clarity emerges, the fibs are identified and the consequences clarified.
    This business of reliable electricity supplies affects all of us, regardless of prior experience, political bent, acceptance of global warming hypotheses. etc.
    We have to assume that bloggers who volunteer what seems to be good information are themselves experienced, apolitical and neutral about global warming, so that a credible report ensues.
    All too often the nature of blogs on all topics leaves us dangling after the heat of the moment has passed. We can sometimes find a satisfying post script summary, but not often. How about it for the analysis of the interruption here? Geoff S

  49. How to live in Germany without electricity:

    Energie Armut in Deutschland

    Wie kann man

    in Deutschland leben ohne Heizung ohne Strom

    Voraussetzungen:

    ein Arbeitsplatz, besser

    ein Arbeitsplatz mit Kantine oder

    ein Arbeitsplatz mit Würstchenbude vor dem Werktor

    eine Wohnung in einem mehrstöckigen Gebäude ab Stockwerk 3 ( eigene Körperwärme, Gebäude heizt mit ! )

    Abhärtung für Kaltduschen, Sommer und Winter

    Möglichkeit zum Einkaufen fahren Fahrrad oder KFZ

    gute Nerven

    Zu Hause, warme Getränke, warme Mahlzeiten
    ________________________________________________________

    geschieht mit Teelichtern:

    https://www.google.at/search?client=ms-android-samsung&ei=OusIXImmL4uusAHWtaGgDA&q=teelichter&oq=teelich&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp. und https://www.google.at/search?q=st%C3%B6vchen+f%C3%BCr+teelichter&client=ms-android-samsung&prmd=isvn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjP0s_g84rfAhWrMewKHSiJA60Q_AUoAXoECBQQAQ&biw=360&bih=560
    ________________________________________________________

    Im Backrohr E-Herd

    kann man alles zubereiten mit Teelichtern und z.B.
    https://goo.gl/images/3YdN3x

    Achtung:

    max. 4 Teelichter im Backrohr – die Dinger heizen ordentlich!

    dabeibleiben – ohne Strom gibt es auch keine Zeitschaltuhr!

    ________________________________________________________

    Warme Getränke zubereiten

    mit Stövchen und Teelicht:
    https://goo.gl/images/3YdN3x

    Warme Mahlzeiten zubereiten

    mit Stövchen und Teelicht:

    https://goo.gl/images/UwsKCh

    unbedingt beachten:

    überall in der Wohnung Taschenlampen mit Akkubatterien verteilen

    smartphone in der Firma aufladen ist eine schlechte Idee, kann wg. Unterschlagung von Firmeneigentum ( Ladestrom! ) zur fristlosen Entlassung führen + strafrechtlicher Anzeige !

    besser Ladekabel für den Zigarettenanzünder im PKW besorgen.
    ________________________________________________________

    Anmerkungen, Korrekturen, Tipps erwünscht !

    Author: Johann Wundersamer

  50. Do be aware that The Guardian newspaper in the UK (often referred to as the Grauniad due to typographical errors) is a liberal leftwing pro-establishment newspaper. Alongside the BBC it actively promotes climate change. It is not liberal nor is is democratic, rather illiberal and anti-democratic as it also actively supports overturning the majority decision to leave the EU.

  51. BBC black out on power cut:
    Their leadership have clearly mandated that silence fall on this event.
    The last report was to the effect that Angela Leadsom (energy minister) was launching an inquiry.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-49309691

    That was this morning. Now it’s gone and the bbc news site is devoid of any mention of the very major and important event.

    They lied saying that Little Barford (gas) went out first, not Hornsea (wind).
    They lied by implying that the two plant failures happened together by pure unlikely coincidence; the reality is that the two failures were directly causally connected and 100% certain because of what they did, driven by their record-seeking wind hubris.
    And now silence.

  52. I feel a bit sorry for National Grid. They must know that you can’t run a grid reliably when over a third of the generators are unreliable but they have to do what they are told by alarmist politicians and then National Grid (not the politicians) gets the blame when the inevitable failure occurs.

  53. Interesting little vignette on BBC Radio 2 this lunchtime [Monday, 12 August 2019].
    On the Jeremy Vine Show [1200-1400 BST today] there was an article on the Big Blackout last Friday.
    A little bit of background, including that an inquiry has been set up.
    A couple of brief comments from folks affected by the blackout, reasonably but not importantly, then a several-minute interview with a Lord Adonis, presumably because he had been the Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission [2015-17]; he is also a former Labour minister, and is also the current Vice-Chairman of the European Movement.
    See the well-known [editable] Wiki-thingy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Adonis,_Baron_Adonis
    His thesis was that it was unacceptable for any profit-making entity to ever make any error (except ‘Acts of God’); there was little or no discussion of the underlying cause – only bad-mouthing the National Grid [NG]. He did NOT say ‘It couldn’t be the wind’, but I felt he wanted to do so.
    Certainly it was to do with iniquitous profits . . . .
    This on the national broadcaster. No significant challenge from the presenter.

    The NG, of course, is required to ‘take’ ‘Unreliable Power’ – even if that is destabilising to the national network.

    I do not know whether the BBC will – ever – seek a true cause of this blackout.
    As much of their pension fund is reputed to be invested in Big Bird Batterers and Burly Bat Bangers, that might be expecting a little too much.

    Auto

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