Delingpole: Boris Johnson’s Looming Wind Disaster

From Breitbart

by James Delingpole 12 Aug 2019

Boris Johnson’s government is shuffling towards a gigantic cliff edge which has nothing to do with Brexit. The looming disaster can be summed up in one word: renewables.

The clue came in the form of the widespread power cuts that Britain experienced at the end of last week. A million people were affected, with rail services disrupted and passengers stuck on trains for many hours.

Quickly the Establishment propaganda machine cranked into gear. This was, a National Grid spokesman told us, a “very, very rare event”. Also, he reassured us — classic distraction technique, this — there was “no malicious intent or cyberattack involved.”

OK then. So what did cause this blackout which, as Richard North rightly says here, was a national “disgrace” and “the sort of thing we expect in train-wreck economies such as Venezuela”?

Well the current official answer is “We don’t know, pending an inquiry.”

Unofficially, though, it’s bleeding obvious. Britain’s National Grid — and by extension the nation’s electricity supply — has been horribly compromised by the dash for renewable energy. The more unreliables — wind turbines, especially — are added to the grid, the more unstable the system will become.

Friday’s power cuts, far from being a freak event, are merely a taste of worse to come.

That’s because brownouts and blackouts aren’t a bug of electricity systems heavily dependent on renewable energy. They’re a feature.

And it’s not as though wiser heads haven’t been saying this for years.

Christopher Booker, for example, writing in 2009, described successive governments’ embrace of wind energy as “the maddest thing that has happened in our lifetime.”

He wrote:

Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity. And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out.

Well on Friday the lights did go out. And the big question now is: will the government try to paper over the cracks or will it turn a crisis into an opportunity?

Perhaps the best thing about those power cuts is that they couldn’t have come at a more inopportune moment for the renewables industry.

With Boris Johnson’s administration having foolishly committed itself to Theresa May’s Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 policy, Big Wind — and its many supporters in the mainstream media — had been positioning itself for a bonanza of new contracts.

Only the Sunday before last, the Mail on Sunday (bizarrely, because it’s normally quite sceptical on environmental issues) ran a massive puff piece in its business section on the “lobbying offensive” being conducted by the wind industry:

Energy firms have launched a lobbying offensive that could result in a new

generation of wind turbines being built in rural Britain.

Executives at major power companies are urging the Government to lift the

restrictions which currently block the building of onshore windfarms.

Their demands could trigger the construction of a swathe of giant turbines

as the country battles to meet ambitious targets to slash carbon emissions

and to provide the power for electric vehicles.

If it hadn’t been for Friday’s blackout, they might have got away with it too. But now, if she plays her cards right, Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom might yet be able to nip their nefarious scheme in the bud.

The key here will to be ensure that the review is fair, transparent and not a greenwash — something that seems rather unlikely given that the National Grid is a parti pris organisation fully committed to the green agenda.

If the review is conducted with any rigour, I find it hard to imagine it could reach any other conclusion than that renewables are making the grid less and less stable and that the idea of incorporating still more wind projects into this overloaded system should be an absolute no-no.

This will rather depend, I think, on Leadsom’s strength of will — and also on the support she gets from fellow pragmatists within the Cabinet such as Priti Patel, Jacob Rees Mogg, and Liz Truss.

Up until now — in support of the Boris Johnson administration’s green virtue signalling gestures — even climate sceptical Cabinet members have been forced to pretend that they’re on board with the renewables suicide-by-virtue-signalling programme.

Only the day before the blackout, Leadsom herself was busily retweeting some nonsense from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), bigging up Net Zero, COP26, and the wind industry.

Full story here.

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Adam Gallon
August 14, 2019 6:09 am

“Executives at major power companies are urging the Government to lift the
restrictions which currently block the building of onshore windfarms.”

No restrictions, simply the subsidies were withdrawn for new ones.
Result, none being planned anymore.

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  Adam Gallon
August 14, 2019 8:07 am

There are restrictions in England. Any area suitable for wind energy development has to be identified in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan. Sensibly, no Local Authority or Parish has identified any suitable areas.

Bryan A
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
August 14, 2019 10:15 am

If all goes to plan well, COP 26 will be advertised as powered by Wind and will lose power on the first day from another such event.

Reply to  Bryan A
August 14, 2019 4:25 pm

And the “Gore Effect” will strike and dump a foot of snow on them 🙂

Reply to  Bryan A
August 15, 2019 5:08 am

was thinking that such a huge influx of people wanting power for hairdryers:-) shavers and all the extra hot water and heat/cooling all at once plus the convention centres
should be pretty amusing if they did;-)

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
August 14, 2019 1:36 pm

Apparently, if the UK loses, and has to host COP-out 26, it will be in Glasgow.
Glasgow, on the River Clyde, and with many post-industrial [abandoned] docks, has plenty of berth space for the ‘200 world leaders’ who will attend, all, following Greta’s example (I assume), in their own/borrowed/stolen super-racing-yacht, with underwater turbines and no lavatory.

As this is to be held from 9-19 November 2020, the carriage of solar panels, for power – heating, lighting, computers, etc. – whilst berthed in Glasgow, may prove to be of limited effectiveness.

Glasgow is, of course, bathed by the Gulf Stream, but is further north than Prince Rupert, British Columbia.


August 14, 2019 6:44 am

If small wind turbines for home, farm, and virtue signalers at colleges are a terrible idea for consumers and magnified by lack of product reliability data, then national grid-scale wind power is a country risk with similar bad outcomes for policymakers as under-informed deciders.

August 14, 2019 6:52 am

Quick, clear cut and burn another American forest as wood pellets with airlifted shipments to stabilize the situation. /sarc

Get a clue–burning American forests for virtue signaling environmental points is not reflective of a modern, sophisticated society.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 14, 2019 8:50 am

Are you saying that American lumbermen shouldn’t have a right to manufacture a wood pellet industry from their private property plantations, or utilize the vast supplies of wood waste for a wood pellet industry, but that wood fibre for pulp and paper or toilet paper is OK? Are you saying that American lumbermen don’t have a right to sell their wood chips for the highest and best use or for the best return of their hard won capital? Just how many virgin American forests are being slaughtered solely for wood pellets? I didn’t think so.

Just because Drax is a stoopid case for not burning coal shouldn’t mean that the entire wood pellet industry is continuously slandered here by a few.

Phil R
Reply to  Earthling2
August 14, 2019 9:37 am


As an American and a free market capitalist, I totally agree with your comments. However, I wonder if you missed the /sarc tag.

Reply to  Phil R
August 14, 2019 10:07 am

I’m talking about policy-driven distortions, not the “rights of lumbermen” and “free market capitalism” that does the responding.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 14, 2019 11:18 am

Yeah right. With language like ‘clear cut and burn another American forest’ and ‘burning American forests’ sure as hell doesn’t sound like talking about policy-driven distortions to me. That kind of talk is straight up slander against American lumbermen.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 14, 2019 1:43 pm

You’re not suggesting they are 1) select cutting the forests as opposed to clear cut and 2) not burning the pellets are you?

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 14, 2019 3:57 pm

The last week or two saw WUWT articles about increasing the carbon content of soils. Benefits were said to be less C in the air, better agricultural yields.
Is not waste sawdust a candidate for this?
Have planning Heads failed to connect some dots? Or has this possibility been tested and made as effective as it can be? I don’t know, do others here? Geoff S

Reply to  Phil R
August 14, 2019 10:33 am

Thanks Phil, but RG was only sarcastic with his first sentence about airlifted shipments of wood pellets…not his second sentence about burning American forests for virtue signalling. It is bad enough the forest industry is continuously slandered by the likes of Greenpeace, but not even them are critics of wood pellet technology, the vast majority of which was created by the utilization of sawmill and forest waste that has no better or higher use, including fetching a higher dollar for the lowest quality fibre. Many of us fought tooth and nail 30-40 years to create this pellet industry to get rid of the bee hive burners that used to burn millions of tons of planer shavings, sawdust and bark every year that just went up in smoke and fly ash in never ending fires of trillions of BTU’s that now make a substantial contribution to the economy. It just feels like a slap in the face by such ignorant talk against American lumbermen who are not doing so well financially anymore.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 14, 2019 11:21 am

I see that you have no concept of the volumes involved.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Earthling2
August 14, 2019 12:31 pm

You still don’t get it, ……. do you, …. Earthling2?

Great Britain’s purchasing of burnable “wood pellets” from the US so they can claim a horrendous decrease in GW gas emissions via their “renewable” green power generation …… is as devious and dishonest as would be …….. if they purchased 100% of their edible beef from the US and claimed they had eliminated 100% of their GW bovine flatulence emissions.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 14, 2019 1:47 pm

I get it Sam, and if you had bothered to read this thread you will see in my original comment, I said “because Drax is a stoopid case for not burning coal..”

Why do people have to just blanket attack the forest industry in USA for the UK policy of purchasing pellets to replace coal in the UK? Attack the stoopid CO2 policies in the UK for purchasing pellets to operate a few coal fired units there. Of course it is crazy, especially when Dxax is sitting atop a perfectly good coal resource. But when I see language like ‘clear cut and burn another American forest’ and ‘burning American forests’, it is as if the USA lumbermen are responsible for enabling those idiots in the UK to be able to purchase wood pellets. There is no subsidy for wood pellet manufacturing in the USA, and is a responsible resource development that contributes a lot to the American/Canadian economies. It makes good use of millions of tons of waste across the North American continent that was formerly needlessly burnt in the old beehive burners. And there is far more trees and forest growing now every year than what is ever logged every year, so it is completely a renewable resource that is growing, mainly from the 90% of private forests owned and operated by USA lumbermen. If they want to sell and chip up their 20 year old plantation for the pellet industry instead of toilet paper because it fits their requirements, why do some critique that as ‘clear cutting’ American forests. Language is everything, as we see the alarmists using it to also denigrate and blame human civilization for the weather/climate.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 14, 2019 2:52 pm

It just feels like a slap in the face by such ignorant talk against American lumbermen who are not doing so well financially anymore.

You have been going to one about something which no one actually said. No one even mentioned “lumbermen”.

Making a marketable product of of waste wood is an excellent idea. However what is going on at Drax is total insanity. It is the sort of unintended consequences you are going to get when you lie and cheat and exaggerate to achieve a political end by pretending you are campaigning for something completely different. If you create a false set of priorities by exaggerating risks, the system will respond to what you are claiming is the problem. A false solution to a fake problem.

Aberrant claims lead to aberrant results.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Earthling2
August 15, 2019 2:09 am

“Earthling2 August 14, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Of course it is crazy, especially when Dxax is sitting atop a perfectly good coal resource.”

It does at the moment however, as time goes on it will become uneconomical, probably impossible, to open the mine again for extraction. I think that is part of the ultimate end game of “leaving fossil fuels in the ground”…


Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Earthling2
August 15, 2019 4:30 am

Earthling2 – August 14, 2019 at 1:47 pm

I get it Sam, and if you had bothered to read this thread

I’ve been reading the thread, Earthling2, …… how else would I have known what your disingenuous response was?

Earthling2, given the FACT you were badmouthing ResourceGuy for this statement, to wit:

ResourceGuy – August 14, 2019 at 6:52 am
Quick, clear cut and burn another American forest as wood pellets

PLEASE TELL me, ….. Earthling2, ….. where, and what was the name of, the American forest that was “clear cut” and converted to wood pellets?

Such an act has never happened and never will happen, …. simply because, …… the retail value of the lumber is worth 10x that of the retail value of the pellets.

“DUH”, even the “oriented strand board” is worth more than pellets, especially since it sequesters CO2.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 14, 2019 11:00 am

@ Earthling’
“slandered” is probably not the right word and it’s not an attack on American lumbermen. Rather it’s pointing out the hypocrisy, not to say misrepresentation to the public of claiming burning wood pellets in the UK is consistent with the idea of clean, C02- free energy.

Reply to  alexei
August 14, 2019 10:19 pm

Burning wood, produced in managed forests, to generate electricity is the ONLY renewable power technology known to man.

Applying the word “renewable” to intermittent wind and solar generators is misleading and deceptive. The dispatchable output of any number of intermittent electricity subsidy farms is ZERO. The LCOE of dispatchable electricity from intermittent ambient sources is INFINITE.

Sam Pyeatte
Reply to  Earthling2
August 15, 2019 2:57 pm

Burning natural gas is cleaner still but suffers from a basic problem – it works. It seems society is addicted to fantasy solutions that are doomed to failure. So be it – we will have to suffer through a true disaster before people wake-up.

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Earthling2
August 17, 2019 8:31 am

A business opportunity is born every minute.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 14, 2019 1:19 pm

1. Frack and capture natural gas and/or dig up some of Great Britain’s famous coal. 2. Burn the coal and natural gas to boil water. 3. Turn the steam into reliable electricity. 4. Enjoy cheap, reliable electricity AND the extra productivity of all plants that enjoy sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere as an added bonus. 5. Get rid of all renewable energy mandates and subsidies so that no one is tempted to repeat the BS that got UK’s grids into this shape in the first place. 6. (Optional) Use some of the savings to tear down the unsightly wind turbines that have despoiled some of the scenic areas and coastlines of Great Britain.

There, I just fixed the UK’s grid problems. You’re welcome.

Tim Gorman
August 14, 2019 6:55 am

Far too many renewable energy advocates base their views on having something like a small wind turbine charging batteries in the basement of a house which, in turn, run inverters feeding the grid in the house. A simple, non-interconnected grid. First, those wind turbines are small and can be engineered to last for decades. Second, any interruption in charging those batteries has a small impact on the house grid.

They then overlay their view on a nationwide grid being fed by wind turbines. Nothing in their view is actually scalable to such a degree. And they don’t even know that they don’t know that!

al in kansas
Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 14, 2019 8:07 am

Mom grew-up on one of those systems on a western Kansas farm. No inverter, all wired for 32 volts. If you wanted to iron clothes, you waited for a windy day, a full charge, and turned everything else off. Yes there were such things as 32 volt electric irons. The systems were quickly abandon when REA came along. They were not much good for anything but lights or occasional small appliance use. Western Kansas is a relatively windy place, 20-30 mph for days not uncommon, but neither is a 5-10 mph for days. FYI cut in at 10 mph and cutout at 25 mph will get 90%+ of the energy available in a wind system. Anything beyond that becomes exponentially more expensive.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  al in kansas
August 14, 2019 4:45 pm

90% of the Betz limit …. 59.3 %…. now we’re a little over 50% …
oops 😉
Now where is that REA ad again …

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 14, 2019 9:17 am

About 20 years ago I went on a 2 day field trip to visit various renewable projects in the UK. The basic scenario was this: we’d arrive at a site to see an impressive piece of “renewable” energy which at first sight looked a fantastic idea, only to find out that the equipment either wasn’t running (a whole bank of vacuum solar water heaters – which weren’t online, a hydro project generating less than 1kw … which wasn’t running because it hadn’t been cleaned of weed that day, etc.).

In my time I’ve also had various small windmills – and to be frank they were all pretty much disasters. They either quickly broke their bearings, or generated so little power to be useful, created so much vibration as to be damaging and … well in one case literally exploded (the blades flew off about 100m).

After many years working with off-grid, my advice to anyone thinking of powering anything off-grid is to not waste their money, they are all unreliable and all expensive (except solar water heating) and if at all possible get a grid connection.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
August 14, 2019 1:10 pm

Iffen I was a young man and wanted to live “off-grid”, …. I would build/wire my house for 12V, build a windmill with belt-driven 50 to 70 Amp vehicle alternator(s) and a bank of 12V car batteries.

I would have a “grid” connection, for emergencies, to power an electric motor for “driving” the alternator(s).

Years ago, I purchase property that had “deeded right” for free NG (natural gas) and was planning on buying an NG electrical generator. But one’s “plan” don’t always bear fruit.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
August 15, 2019 2:50 am

I grew up in an “off grid” house. No mains electricity, gas, water or sewage. A party phoneline the only 20th century item. We had gas light downstairs supplemented by paraffin and candles. I’m still adept at getting round in the dark. Water came from a spring up the hill behind the house which only ran dry once in 40 years. No TV, and I only listen to the sound on most TV even now. I miss the sound of the hissing gaslight at night, tinitus isn’t the same. All heating and hot water was by coal, wood, peat and some winters anything that would burn. Staying warm in the worst of Scottish winters a constant struggle.
In my teens and twenties I sometimes thought about off gride electricity 12v with car headlights and sidelights I never did anymore than investigate as the effort involved wouldn’t have made any real gain in quality of lighting, the main problem. These days with LED lights it would be a different story, although there’s still no any sort of G mobile phone signal (a couple of years ago anyway) so NetFlix on unlimited data isn’t an option!

Anyone who wants us all to live in a low carbon world is criminally insane in opinion.

Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
August 14, 2019 2:23 pm

I used to live in the Shetland Islands where at least two wind turbines in the 80s had the blades ripped off and the central column collapsed because it was too windy….as a kid I remember having arguments with my dad about how they were a good option for green energy, he said nuclear was better…now I find myself a bit wiser and agreeing with him. Renewables, useful to an extent, small scale in certain situations NOT for a national grid

Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
August 14, 2019 3:50 pm

I have some friends who built a house on the we(s)t coast of Scotland. They installed a hydro-electric turbine to exploit the nearby stream. It never worked properly, and was eventually removed.
The wood-fired stove heats a thermal store (with electric back-up) which was meant to supply hot water and support the under-floor heating. The conflict between the heating and hot water loads led to the heating being de-coupled and run from a mains-powered in-line electric heater, leaving the thermal store to service the hot water, which it now does admirably.
Funny how things work out…..

Reply to  sonofametman
August 15, 2019 2:35 am


I’m intending to build a house in Scotland on my retirement in a couple of years. Assuming I can still get mains gas, I’ll have it installed for cooking along with a gas boiler to run a combined air heating/ventilation system. The specification will include it being suitable for using bottled gas as well.

I’ll connect to mains electricity for day to day use as normal but I’ll be installing an eff off big diesel generator so when the power cuts inevitably happen I at least have some means of keeping the lights and heating on without having to rely on wonky wind turbines, sappy solar panels, or hippy hydro power.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 14, 2019 4:11 pm

I live in a small off grid community in Queensland, Australia. Lifestyle choice, it’s remote. One by one the household wind turbines are being removed. Not reliable and provide next to nil power. Replaced by diesel/petrol, solar and ever bigger batteries.

If large scale wind is anything like small scale, then our societies are in big trouble.

son of mulder
August 14, 2019 7:01 am

It is only when there has been a similar event during a mid-winter big freeze with many associated deaths that the UK government will take this seriously and deal with it by more nuclear and fracking.

Reply to  son of mulder
August 14, 2019 8:03 am

Doubt it. Cold kills off those pesky expensive white old people…..

Reply to  son of mulder
August 14, 2019 8:36 am

There you have hit the nail on the head. it was a warm summers afternoon and light until 9pm when the power failed, as everyone was winding down for the weekend.

The middle of a cold day in January, or at commuting time at 5pm in the depths of winter as night falls and the story would be tragically different.


Linda Goodman
August 14, 2019 7:04 am

“Theresa May’s Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 policy…” It’s NOT May’s policy, it’s the worldwide agenda to form an eco-fascist technocracy. ‘Smart meters’ anyone? But Delingpole and almost everyone else refuses to expose it. Mustn’t alert the masses and pose a real threat to the house of cards of ‘man-made climate change’.

Silence is consent.

August 14, 2019 7:06 am

Why would anybody in England think slashing their carbon output would be a desirable goal?
England accounts for 1.2% of global CO2 output due to human activity.
That is a rounding error on the rate of growth of CO2 emissions in Asia.
Furthermore, due to reasons not completely clear, England’s electricity use has fallen about 14% or so in the last seven years (too lazy right now to look it up!).
All this and with higher electricity prices.
The only explanation is corruption in the form of govt subsidies for wind farms.

Reply to  joel
August 14, 2019 8:11 am

“Why would anybody in England think slashing their carbon output would be a desirable goal?”

Most seem driven by because it feels good to save the world.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Rms
August 14, 2019 1:25 pm

Why would anybody in England think slashing their carbon output would be a desirable goal?

Its not just anybody, ….. its the majority of the ”under 39” crowd that TRULY BELIEVE it is a desirable goal …… because they have been miseducated (brainwashed) to believe it is true.

The older ones believe it is a “cash cow” and think it would be silly not to take advantage of the “opportunity”.

Reply to  joel
August 14, 2019 8:45 am

Why would anybody in England think slashing their carbon output would be a desirable goal?

They shouldn’t. It is obvious that the current anti-CO2 measures are nothing more than theater.

Michael Moore, call him what you like, has told the truth in his new documentary, Planet of the Humans. Someone needs to find a way to get this work the widest distribution possible.

The citizens need to see the stark choice. Do something really painful to reduce their CO2 ‘footprint’, or do nothing. The fake non-CO2-reducing renewable crap is a waste of time, talent, and treasure. It should not be seen as an option.

AGW is not Science
Reply to  commieBob
August 14, 2019 9:31 am

Well, yes and no.

He gets the “renewable” scam for what it is, but still believes the “climate crisis” bullshit. When he finally gets THAT, we’ll have some real progress!

Reply to  AGW is not Science
August 14, 2019 11:20 am

It’s really important that the true believers understand how much of a monumental scam renewable energy is. That’s step one.

Even if you totally believe in CAGW, you should not endorse renewable energy. You have to understand that reducing your carbon footprint will hurt you personally a lot.

Step two, after the true believers realize what effective action would cost them personally, they are motivated to examine their belief in CAGW more closely.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  AGW is not Science
August 14, 2019 11:34 am

Second that.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  joel
August 14, 2019 11:33 am

Members of a climate cult.

Reply to  joel
August 15, 2019 1:42 pm

The only reason for reducing a ‘carbon footprint’ [outgassed plant food, surely??] would be to lower costs.

Insulation, for example, would tend to cu winter heat [or summer A/C] bills.
It may even be cost-effective.

Shipping has reduced is carbon footprint [per unit of cargo carried/mile] – because that cuts bunker costs!!


August 14, 2019 7:07 am

The U.S. rightly figured it would take more than one nuclear bomb to bring Japan to the surrender table. Probably the same is true here requiring multiple power failures to obtain government attention.

August 14, 2019 7:20 am

“Benny Peiser: Incredible Shrinking Europe — Between Climate Utopia & Green Energy Crisis”

Reply to  richard
August 14, 2019 8:53 am

griff will tell us some things about a hoax in concern of the German grid, bet ? 😀

Bryan A
Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 14, 2019 12:20 pm

It is amazing just how innefectual the Climate Myopic truely can be

Bryan A
Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 14, 2019 12:23 pm

Of course you could also say how Miopic the Climate Ineffectuals can be

August 14, 2019 7:25 am

The National Grid has pointed out that this was caused by a highly unusual event: two simultaneous power station failures, one at a gas-fired power station in Cambridgeshire, the other at an offshore wind farm in the North Sea. It also said the system operated “as planned” in reaction to the resulting fall in power frequency, by disconnecting “an isolated portion of electricity demand”, allowing power to be restored quickly. A cyber attack or wind power supply problems – which critics of renewable energy have been quick to try to pin the disruption on – have been ruled out.

The Observer view on Britain’s blackout

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 14, 2019 11:12 am

What you are not getting is that the failure was not lack of generating capacity, but lack of frequency control. Renewables can’t provide frequency control, only large spinning synchronized generators can do that. So as you remove thermal plants, with their large spinning generators, and replace them with renewables, the grid becomes less and less stable. These kinds of outages were predicted, and they will continue to occur unless/until this trend of replacing thermal plants with renewables is reversed.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
August 14, 2019 2:12 pm

If “you” is”me” in your first sentence, I’m aware of, but at the time I linked the quote, no reason for the blackout was mentioned, resp. an explanation given.
Link and quote represent not my opinion, but Ther Observers’.

Randy Sykes
August 14, 2019 7:27 am

This is like a sci-fi / zombie flick.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Randy Sykes
August 14, 2019 10:04 am

Yep, just without the laughs! 🙁

August 14, 2019 7:31 am

I continue to be astounded at the sheer ignorance of the energy officials with respect to the future
energy technologies. They are uranium and or Thorium fueled molten salt small modular reactors
and their development does not depend on anything that occurs in renewable Europe or the U.S.
Nothing can compete with this technology – they can produce power at a levelized cost of 4 cents per kWhr, are totally and intrinsically safe and physically unable to meltdown or spread radioactive debri from any accident and can operate in a load following mode (no need for mid level peak power generators) . India and Russia are seriously developing these generators and the U.S. finally has thrown some money (not a whole lot – a few millions) and support their way. The actual basic technology is old and well known – experimental reactors have been built and operated but never at a cost effective manner. That has changed with several
innovative designs that allow operation with low level radioactive fuel. They are very proliferation resistant,as the uranium is dissolved in the molten salt and an be built in factories – no large castings are required as there are no high pressure components or operations on the radioactive side of the system.
Built in factories and installed on sites that require little preparation and no need for lakes of water for cooling – they are air cooled. They can be located practically anywhere, as they are a danger to nobody.
Look to mid 2020’s for prototypes. Their adoption completely eliminates the current state of armed camps supporting different energy technologies.

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  ColMosby
August 14, 2019 8:19 am

Well, that is the rosy picture. Wikipedia, for what its worth, details 22 disadvantages/problems with the development of practical, commercial-scale molten thorium salt reactors:

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Gordon Dressler
August 14, 2019 9:39 am

NuScale’s 60 Mw SMR design uses half-height conventional fuel rods produced by the legacy nuclear fuel industry.

The advantages and disadvantages of the legacy nuclear fuel cycle are well understood from sixty years of prior experience. Producing half-height fuel rods is a requirement easily accommodated by the existing nuclear fuel industry.

The bottom line here is that relying on the legacy nuclear fuel cycle greatly reduces the technical risks and therefore the cost and schedule risks of building and operating the very first Generation IV SMR power station.

Taken as a whole, NuScale’s SMR design is the pathfinder for all future SMR efforts. If NuScale’s SMR power station in Idaho is delivered on cost and on schedule by 2026, then more ambitious Gen IV technologies such as the molten salt SMRs will become candidates for serious consideration.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  ColMosby
August 14, 2019 8:49 am

NuScale out of Portland, Oregon is the furthest along by far in putting an operational SMR into production service.

The NRC’s review and approval process for the NuScale SMR is well along and is on schedule for completion in 2020. NuScale expects to have their first SMR unit in operation in eastern Idaho in 2026.

Their 60 Mw SMR design uses half-height conventional fuel rods. Up to twelve of their SMR’s can be ganged together in a larger facility totaling 720 Mw.

But you don’t have to install all twelve units at one time. SMR units can be added one at a time as power demand grows. NuScale’s targeted capital cost is $4,200 per Mw. That compares with Vogtle 3 & 4’s capital cost of $13,000 per Mw for two AP1000’s.

The two AP1000’s at Vogtle will be the last large unitary reactors constructed in the United States. The nuclear construction industry in the US simply isn’t capable of consistently delivering these huge 1100 Mw reactors on cost and on schedule.

It is not hyperbole to say that the future of new-build nuclear power in the United States now depends on the success of NuScale’s SMR design and on the ability of NuScale’s Idaho construction project to stay on cost and on schedule.

If NuScales’s Idaho SMR project fails, then new-build nuclear construction in the US will be stalled for decades into the future.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  ColMosby
August 14, 2019 11:39 am

For about the 14th time:
When 10 are operating for awhile, you have proof of concept.
When production reaches a few hundred each week, you have a successful product.
When these are producing 10% of the USA’s electrical power, you have scale.

Get back to us when the last of the above happens.

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 15, 2019 8:58 am

And when one NuScale SMR unit has an unforeseen problem and has to be scrapped, you have the real world.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Gordon Dressler
August 15, 2019 10:48 am

Gordon Dressler: ‘And when one NuScale SMR unit has an unforeseen problem and has to be scrapped, you have the real world.’

It is impossible to make progress in any ambitious endeavor without accepting some level of risk. In the real world, you must accept the possibility that an unforeseen problem might force an entire SMR unit to be scrapped.

But you also take a rigorous and disciplined approach in minimizing the risk.

Exerting forceful pressure on a project’s managers and engineers to follow a rigorous and disciplined approach to quality assurance and to risk management is what the NRC regulations and the application of NQA-1 requirements to reactor design and operation is all about.

As far as I know personally, the very first NuScale 60 Mw SMR unit installed in the Idaho power plant will become the operational prototype for their design, for all practical purposes.

If NuScale has followed a disciplined approach to quality assurance and to risk management in all phases of their project, then the risk that expensive show-stopper technical issues will emerge at plant startup is minimized.

But the risk is not zero; and in the real world, it is impossible to make it zero. If the project has been properly planned and scheduled, then the project plan will include contingency for any technical modifications which go beyond the normally expected punch list items.

Mike Ellwood
Reply to  ColMosby
August 19, 2019 2:52 pm

An alternative (or maybe parallel) to MSR’s is the Integral Fast Reactor, pioneered by Argonne National Lab from 1984-1994.

See, e.g.

(“Prescription for the Planet” by Tom Blees).

Rod Evans
August 14, 2019 7:31 am

During my time as an engineering officer with P&O I found myself often alone on watch and responsible for maintaining the essential electrical supply to the ship. One of the key watch duties was to change over generators. We had four, each one capable of supplying a small town, each one powered by diesel. Before shutting a generator down, it was deemed essential for obvious reasons, to have the ongoing generator up to speed operational and generating on the ship’s system.
Compare that simple expedient with what is now taking place here in the UK. The energy providers are actually closing down (permanently), coal fired reliable generating stations and replacing that capacity with uncertain wind farm output.
They, the national grid, must be insane to even consider such a dangerous strategy. It is nothing more than gaming with what is essentially a life threatening industry when it goes down.
The complete absence and no mention of nuclear power is also very revealing. The ex CND operators that now run so much of government activity, refuse to talk about nuclear.
We live in troubled times.

Gary Pearse
August 14, 2019 7:31 am

Com’on Boris! Stop this madness. The only existential threat to the planet (and first the British economy) is evil enviromarxists and their crony moneybag friends. You are the new kid on the block and relatively untainted by this idiocy. Don’t join them or you own the whole mess.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 14, 2019 9:00 am

“Don’t join them or you own the whole mess.”

Excellent advice! Boris should listen.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 14, 2019 10:06 am

First you need to get beyond the gate keeper the government’s chief strategist Mr. Dominic Cummings,
For our USA friends, according to Wikipedia: ‘Cummings is Oxford graduate who moved to Russia from 1994 to 1997, working on various projects. In one Russian venture, he worked for a group attempting to set up an airline, however, the venture fell foul of the KGB, and was abandoned after only one flight.’
Cummings is a strategist of a very high intelligence, some think he is ‘a present day Machiavelli’ but Daily Telegraph said ”he’s not the devil ‘ incarnated.

Ron Long
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 14, 2019 10:30 am

Too late Gary. Look at Boris Johnson’s hair, he obviously has adopted Big Wind as his model.

August 14, 2019 7:45 am

“Unofficially, though, it’s bleeding obvious. Britain’s National Grid — and by extension the nation’s electricity supply — has been horribly compromised by the dash for renewable energy. The more unreliables — wind turbines, especially — are added to the grid, the more unstable the system will become”
This is a ridiculous comment to make for this outage. There was 8GW of spare CCGT power at the time of the outage. There was a demand 2.8GW below peak of the previous day. There was no drop or increase in wind strength. Simply put a gas power station tripped and a fault occurred on the transmission lines from the wind farm causing 0.9GW loss of supply. This should have been handled by the pumped storage systems – Dinorwig 1.8GW, Ffestiniog 360MW etc – the question is why this 12 second response unit and the 1 minute response failed to deliver. Note an individual WEC supplies 7MW max and a WEC trip of 7MW would be easily handled.

Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 8:06 am

Vector Control safety switches that don’t work.

Rod Evans
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 8:15 am

The early analysis I saw, suggested the wind farm was taken of line due to wind gusts beyond the safe working limits of the units. This caused a drop in frequency to below the 49.5 trip out which triggered the gas plant to shut off.
Who knows? We may actually get the full story, then again these days we may just get a confusion of excuses.
The unusual thing for this time of the year in the UK was the strength and the variability of the wind that day. Unusual but not unique.

Reply to  Rod Evans
August 14, 2019 9:07 am


I keep a diary that includes the weather and as this occurred round my birthday the notes are always especially detailed. It is extraordinary how many times I have recorded very strong winds, heavy rain and other apparently inclement weather for the time of year.

So not unique and probably not even unusual, but what the word for an occurrence two steps below ‘unusual’ eludes met at present!


Rod Evans
Reply to  tonyb
August 14, 2019 10:29 am

I would offer up the words “not unusual” for two levels below unusual… 🙂

Reply to  Rod Evans
August 14, 2019 9:23 am

There was a similar event in Northern Scotland. The wind park stopped during an extreme wind period … but it was strenuously denied that it had anything to do with wind.

As for an “inquiry” … remember Climategate … where they intentionally created three different underlapping enquiries to ensure there was a huge gap in the middle through which they could “forget” to look at all the key incriminating material.

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 8:34 am

Au contraire my friend. Just before the event, National Grid was boasting that wind power was providing about 47.5% of the electricity (possibly more as they don’t know how much unmetered, embedded generation there is), a record. The gas power station shut down, as planned because of the increasing wind power, which has priority access to the grid. It is possible that the ‘fault’ at the wind farm was that the wind was too strong and the turbines tripped. (Perversely, wind turbines are the only type of generators not designed to operate in high winds – honestly you couldn’t make it up). With the grid in a very vulnerable state because so little power was being provided by synchronous generators with their large inertia, it is not surprising that the frequency fell and parts of the grid automatically isolated to prevent a catastrophic grid failure needing a black start.

The next time, and with more massive offshore wind farms under construction or in planning, we may not be quite so lucky.

UK residents should be prepared for blackouts in the future (home generator anyone?) unless government policy is rapidly changed.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
August 18, 2019 1:29 am

Phillip Bratby,

You conclude your excellent comment saying,
“The next time, and with more massive offshore wind farms under construction or in planning, we may not be quite so lucky.

UK residents should be prepared for blackouts in the future (home generator anyone?) unless government policy is rapidly changed.

Yes, and it was all predicted many years ago, see


Kaiser Derden
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 8:57 am

you use the words “easily” and “should have” as if all of those safeguards and systems aren’t REQUIRED by having too much wind generation involved in the grid … when in fact it not easy and it didn’t happen … that is just as ridiculous comment …

Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 9:00 am

No that’s not what happened. The frequency dropped below stable limits because there was so much wind power on the grid that it couldn’t cope when a single small plant trpiped.

The cause was clearly a frequency problem, not a capacity problem.

Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 9:04 am

They didn’t have 12 seconds. It was the frequency collapse that did it. See:

Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 9:11 am

Sounds like someone or some thing touched the wrong card in this house of cards.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 9:15 am

Nope. The gas turbine was on idle due to the lack of need for it, when there was a transmission failure of some sort from offshore wind (go figure), making demand spike suddenly, but the gas turbine wasn’t able to ramp up fast enough to meet that and shut down automatically.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 15, 2019 11:24 am

ghalfrunt: You would need more data to blame windmills, of course. You shall soon have it. South Australia got it for you but it doesnt hurt to have more data! You realize this sort of thing has been confidently predicted by real power engineers – to take a leaf from lefty climate gangster science- future grid problems will be worse than you thought!

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 18, 2019 3:02 pm

Part of the answer to that question is that when the Western Link HVDC system is running close to its 2.25GW capacity exporting Scottish wind it means that it blocks a transmission route for power from Dinorwig a few tens of miles West of landfall at Deeside into England and across towards the power shortages on the Eastern side of the country. In order to free up transmission constraints it is quite likely that load shedding was required. I’ve looked at several recent low frequency events. Here’s what I found:

From Gridwatch 5 minute data that the event on 9th of May was due to unexpectedly rapid ramp down of the NEMO link (or maybe it was a planned test of consequences, with Dinorwig ready to go to make up the difference?) – it had been running as high as 982MW, and was reported at 0 ten minutes later and may have tripped out completely (again questions about what the data really represent and timestamps): there was some 20.7GW of CCGT. 20th June appears to be the loss of ~750MW of CCGT due to a trip (which can of course be on a transmission line or substation rather than the power station itself). It would take a lot of effort to pin down the actual station involved, but there was 14.9GW of CCGT at the time. 11th July appears to have been another big CCGT trip – 1.1GW, but out of 21.5GW of CCGT operational, illustrating the advantage of inertia in containing the problem. Of course, inertia isn’t confined to CCGT, but it is the big variable.

All these events were saved by much higher ratios of inertia to generation loss. It’s incontrovertible fact that the inertia was inadequate to allow system recovery before load shedding occurred. National Grid appear to have admitted that they had only contracted 1GW of spinning reserve (FT report). Their plan was inadequate. They were obsessed with taking advantage of the weather to create new records for low CO2 per kWh, and share of wind and renewables generally on the grid.

August 14, 2019 7:48 am

Did the wind suddenly die down that day? It would be nice to see whether there was any particular indication of a wind based event. I would be as likely to believe hackers.

Reply to  chadb
August 14, 2019 9:03 am

Windmills have a goldilocks zone where you need enough wind to run the turbine at a minimum acceptable speed and a maximum wind when you have to shut it down or you will damage the turbine.

Generally too light winds can be predicted in advance and it’s when a high pressure system plants itself right over the windmill. These generally follow a well known pattern and occur mostly in winter with polar highs and in summer when weather systems slow down and the jet stream winds relax.

Periods of too high winds can be forecasted, but they also can happen pretty quickly when a low unexpectedly deepens or changes direction or a polar cold front accelerates. Out over the water where there is no real friction it becomes even more unpredictable. I’ve been on the water where you could actually see a wind front coming at you and when it passed it went from basically calm to blowing 25 kts.

You also have gust fronts and other local influences that could damage a turbine. But when the wind suddenly blows over the limit, you have to shut the turbine down NOW.

Reply to  chadb
August 14, 2019 10:16 am

No. Part of the (simplified) story is that there was a sudden fault at one generating, presumably the gas-fire one, such that it suddenly could not supply power to the grid. The spinning reserve gradually slowed down to make up the power but consequently the frequency fell below a preset minimum automatically triggering various load shedding across the country. I don’t know if the windfarm was also automatically disconnected because of the fall in frequency or had a separate fault or was taken off line deliberately because of the bad, gusty weather. The story may be more complicated because of the rapidly changing wind farm output, perhaps before it was taken off line. The political line was “a very, very rare” event (of double failure) but I suspect there is a clear connection rather than a random chance. The situation wasn’t helped by the deliberate (IMHO) decision to attempt a public relations coup by taking advantage of the windy weather to (a) generate as much power by wind as possible for the day (b) reduce all other source of power (c) start an experiment at 5:00 am with little demand. They were then able to claim at 4:00pm that this was both the highest absolute power ever generated by wind and that wind exceeded gas for the whole day. That might have worked at 5:00am and during the day but by 5:00 pm with peak demand and problematic weather in the North Sea it all went wrong. I suspect the political issues raised far outweigh the technical issues, which could have been a lot worse but exacerbated by the extraordinarily long time it took to get the trains running again, given the relatively short break in supply to the rail network, and that the people most affected were the chattering classes trying to get out of London for the weekend. I bet more pounds are spent on public relations damage limitation than on correcting the defective strategy that caused the problem. If you look (quickly!) at the grid status for last Thursday/Friday you can see that wind input was very low on Thursday. This is because the country was experiencing gale-force winds and the windmills were taken offline. On Friday the gales had eased. You can see (under “Weekly Nuclear, Coal, CCGT, Wind) the wind blue line is above the red gas for three straight days while the storm subsided. I think this is “unprecedented”. The only way to see the glitch, which is very short, is to download the frequency data for the one entry at 15:55:57 UTC. However, I don’t they will try to repeat the experiment!

Dave Ward
Reply to  SuffolkBoy
August 14, 2019 11:39 am

“The extraordinarily long time it took to get the trains running again”

Apparently, much of that was due to need for an engineer to visit each of the new 700 class units (wherever they were stopped) with a laptop to reset the control systems! This is, presumably, because a sudden variation of mains frequency was not considered to be part of normal operations…

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  SuffolkBoy
August 18, 2019 3:19 pm

There was a lull in the wind on the Thursday – no gales. The wind was stronger on the Saturday, but in the light of their experiences, the Grid evidently curtailed wind generation. Hornsea actually ran at a dead steady 780MW all day long on the Saturday (variation of less that 1MW in half hour averages), as if demonstrating they could keep output consistently stable in a strong enough wind.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  chadb
August 18, 2019 3:11 pm

No, it didn’t. In fact, it had been windier in the morning, peaking at just under 11GW and although there was about 1GW more wind generation than forecast, total wind at the time of the trip was just under 9GW, and all the rest of the wind farms kept producing at fairly steady levels. Wind speeds at nearby coastal stations were 45kph sustained, with gusts to 60kph. Cutout starts at 90kph/25m/s. It would not in any case have caused an instantaneous trip of the wind farm, which is what happened, because a) the turbines shut down progressively, not instantaneously (high wind ride through system), and b) any higher speed gust would take some minutes to cross the wind farm because it is so huge – 407sq km.

Non Nomen
August 14, 2019 8:03 am

If BoJo is just virtue signaling, nothing serious is going to happen. He will stop that immediately after Brexit and return to sane energy politics. I assume he is trying to avoid wars on too many fronts at the same time.

Walt D.
August 14, 2019 8:13 am

As Ayn Rand said.
You can choose to ignore reality.
However, you still get to suffer the consequences of ignoring reality.

Or to paraphrase David Hume.

We need to ask the question “What is the truth, rather than what we would like the truth to be.”

August 14, 2019 8:18 am

Where’s the beef? Oh, sorry you can’t have beef anymore.

August 14, 2019 8:28 am

Damage control procedure:

Step 1: Sow confusion and possibly vague finger pointing in the wrong direction and assign a study team with instructions not to have the answer withing six months to a year

Step 2: Advocate for overpriced grid battery systems and expensive grid upgrades to make up for grid problems caused by the wind farms and others that were not factored into the policy decisions on the front end. Let emergencies and crisis spending by the public be your friend.

Step 3: Stay the course and don’t admit mistakes or anything that looks like negative issues in policy making, especially in regards to further doubling down.

Curious George
August 14, 2019 8:31 am

See how horrible that Boris Johnson is? Became prime minister in July, and the very next month there is a blackout. 🙂

Michael H Anderson
August 14, 2019 8:31 am

comment image

J Mac
August 14, 2019 8:34 am

C’mon Boris! Brake ‘Big Wind’!

August 14, 2019 8:35 am

Germany has far more wind power – and an utterly stable grid.

This is unlikely to be other than a one off event – it certainly has not happened in the last 2 decades, since wind power began to take off in the UK.

The UK will continue with wind power – in the last week or so it has been supplying the majority of UK power.

Bill Toland
Reply to  griff
August 14, 2019 2:11 pm

Utter nonsense, Griff. I checked with Gridwatch and renewables have supplied less than half of Britain’s electricity in the last week. What’s more, wind power makes up only part of the total renewable energy supply in Britain. Furthermore, electricity makes up less than half of the power demand in Britain. So your statement that wind power has been supplying the majority of UK power in the last week is a complete fabrication.

Reply to  griff
August 14, 2019 2:31 pm

You <a href=""&lt; have read that ?
And certainly you read the comment just below ? 😀
😀 I won the bet 😀

This is unlikely to be other than a one off event – it certainly has not happened in the last 2 decades

Every event is one event to much

Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 14, 2019 3:25 pm

PS Link correction, sorr<
Have you read that ?
And certainly you read the comment just below ?

Reply to  griff
August 14, 2019 2:49 pm

Will the UK be hit by more mass blackouts?

The Daily Telegraph reports National Grid experienced three “near misses” in the past few months, narrowly dodging blackouts similar to Friday’s on each occasion.
They have been accused of not doing enough to protect against the risks of mass blackouts while being aware that the risk had been growing “for years”.
Coming close on multiple occasions before experiencing the biggest blackouts for a decade have prompted the government’s investigation, as some people were stuck on trains for up to nine hours due to the power cuts.

Steve Keppel-Jones
Reply to  griff
August 16, 2019 11:51 am

From the article linked below on NoTricksZone: “the German Federal Grid Agency is having to intervene more and more frequently in order to compensate for grid fluctuations.”

That doesn’t sound like “utterly stable” to me, Griff. It sounds like “unstable and rapidly getting worse.”

Also: ” in June earlier this year ‘Europe’s electricity grid faced multiple collapses’ and how grid frequency in Germany had ‘plummeted several times to such an extent that Europe’s entire power grid had been endangered.’ ”

Where do you get your nonsense, Griff? This time you didn’t even try to link to a badly researched article that totally failed to support your assertions. You’re slipping!

George Daddis
August 14, 2019 8:38 am

….and to provide the power for electric vehicles

A substantial increase in EVs, which is part of the policy, will only make the destabilization of the grid much worse.

AGW is not Science
Reply to  George Daddis
August 14, 2019 9:39 am

YUP! Meanwhile doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to fight the imaginary boogyman they call “climate change.” Chrissake, even MICHAEL MOORE has figured THAT out!

Tractor Gent
August 14, 2019 8:41 am

Normally the UK Grid should be able to ride out a >1GW sudden loss of generating capacity (or conversely, a >1GW loss of load) but this time it didn’t. The finger is pointing at the loss of inertia in the network. This has hitherto been supplied by the physical inertia of large steel rotating masses – the generators and turbines in steam plant. Because this has always existed, then change of frequency as the generators slow down & speed up due to source and load changes has become a fundamental observable to monitor & control the Grid. Now we have much less physical inertia – windfarms & solar contribute essentially none – so frequency excursions are much larger and lead to load-shedding as we have seen.
The Grid people are aware of this, and there is talk of ‘synthetic inertia’ from windfarms but this requires a change to the operating software, and possibly physical design changes and an unknown effect on maintenance & lifetime. It will also inevitably require derating of the windfarm to allow headroom for the inertia function to operate. Countering a frequency drop requires it to generate more power so it can’t run at 100% of the current potential wind input under normal conditions. So I wonder just how much of the current UK wind capacity can be retrofitted to perform this function?

Of course there are still all the other arguments against wind/solar on amenity and economic grounds.

Reply to  Tractor Gent
August 14, 2019 9:05 am

Exactly. The general public (and some on here) have been pushed towards it being a capacity problem but it was not. It was a stability problem because the frequency fell. The Grid has been warned about it many times but they were trying to set a new renewables record on a very windy day, possibly to impress a visiting Minister.

Reply to  Phoenix44
August 15, 2019 12:31 am

If they wish to set a new production record percentage they should try it at 5am on a windy Sunday morning, not at 5pm when demand is rising towards the daily peak demand.
Even worse would be trying it on a still December evening when we are sitting in the dark under a high pressure system.
Over the past couple of weeks the amount of wind generated electricity has been going up and down like a bride’s nightie, varying from next to nothing and 10GW. How is that for reliable generation?

michael hart
August 14, 2019 8:48 am

I’m not convinced that Boris really believes the green spiel any more than Cameron or many other politicians. I think they are just going along with it as the obsession de jour and are more worried about the quite small percentage of the voters who might defect to another party if they don’t get their green feathers stroked.

It still seems to be a brave politician who risks telling the truth about the green malarkey. David Cameron did it (mistakenly?) off-camera and got my qualified vote that way. Boris may yet do so because he is careless with his speech in a manner similar to Trump.

Robert of Texas
August 14, 2019 8:53 am

The more “interconnected” the U.K power becomes with the E.U., the less control U.K. has over it. If you build a lot of intermittent power sources, then you need backup power from somewhere to fill in. If you refuse to build your own backup power generation, then you have become hostage to another government’s whims. If they also build a lot of intermittent power, you now have a row of dominoes that can trip each other.

This is obvious. Whether or not this specific blackout had anything to do with intermittent power sources, some future blackouts will occur due to them. The more interconnected countries become, the larger the blackout can become.

I keep hoping that Texas will stay as independent as possible, but with all the wind capacity they are adding, it likely will do no good. We will eventually experience a blackout due to our own reliance on wind. Without a decent storage capacity intermittent power is just dangerous to rely upon.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 14, 2019 9:25 am

Keep hoping.
According to Wikipedia, The Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas, owned and operated by E.ON (btw, I get my electricity from E.ON, which is a German owned utility company), is one of the world’s largest-capacity wind farms, with 634 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 781.5 MW. At the time of its completion in 2009, it was the largest wind farm in the world.
Other large wind farms in Texas include: Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, Sherbino Wind Farm, Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm, Sweetwater Wind Farm, Buffalo Gap Wind Farm, King Mountain Wind Farm, Desert Sky Wind Farm, Wildorado Wind Ranch, and the Brazos Wind Farm, and many more, total number over 40, total capacity well over 22 GW.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 14, 2019 9:40 am

” We will eventually experience a blackout due to our own reliance on wind.”

Looks like you came pretty close just recently. Wind output dropped 50% during high demand due to heat.

Monday’s price spike also shows how renewable energy, which makes up about 25% of Texas’ energy generation, had difficulty generating enough power to handle the demand surge. Grid data from Bloomberg showed wind power generation in the region slid by 50% Monday, with most of the energy generation coming from fossil fuel power stations.

Texas Power Grid Operator Declares Level 1 Emergency Amid “Extreme Heat”

AGW is not Science
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 14, 2019 9:47 am


The more windmills and solar panels they add to the grid, the less reliable the grid becomes, AND the more expensive the electricity becomes. What’s not to like?! Win-win! /sarc

August 14, 2019 9:03 am

My conspiracy inclined acquaintance said that on that day was very windy, and in advance of a high government VIP visit to the NG operations during the afternoon (widely reported in media), the NG was bragging that 50% of electricity was generated by the wind farms. This scurrilous person opines that the NG in order to impress the VIP may have decided to take out the gas generator in order to demonstrate the power of renewable potential !?
However the wind in the North Sea was getting stronger during the afternoon, eventually got too strong and the wind farm had to power down, consequently chaos ensued. I think whole thing is a bit of nonsense and blame Russian submarines prowling in the North Sea. 🙂

August 14, 2019 9:12 am

The article says “That’s because brownouts and blackouts aren’t a bug of electricity systems heavily dependent on renewable energy. They’re a feature.” This statement, while perhaps true in Britain where new hydro projects may not be an option, is not true in much of the world where hydro (yes, that is a renewable) are not prone to brownouts and blackouts. Plus an added bonus: hydro reservoirs are easily and effectively disguised as lakes, whereas fields of ugly wind turbines cannot be disguised.

Dave Ward
Reply to  boffin77
August 14, 2019 11:46 am

“Where hydro are not prone to brownouts and blackouts”

Because hydro is a controllable source of power. You know how much water is stored, and that it won’t suddenly vary over the space of a few minutes in the way that wind and solar can and do.

August 14, 2019 9:22 am

I think most people are not aware that there is a downside to “renewables”. Perhaps this power failure will wake them up.

David Burrows
August 14, 2019 9:31 am

The only surprise is that its taken so long from the day Blair scrapped the nuclear programme in favour of virtue signalling wind turbines for this to happen. Obviously Cameron in coalition with Libtards would not have got permission but since then its a sad indictment of Conservatives that have have not repealed the disastrous Climate Change Act and started to secure our energy supply.

Coeur de Lion
August 14, 2019 9:46 am

The simple questions must be asked over and over again. What’s it all for? Why, to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere? Why? Because CO2 causes heating of the globe? How do you know this? Because of the IPCC’s models. Are the IPCC’s models accurate or reliable? What has the record been to date? On another tack, do you expect the number of molecules of CO2 per ten thousand – just over four – to go on increasing? Yes or no. If no, how will this be achieved? If yes, what is the point beyond virtue signalling of the UK’s efforts? Is there anyone out there taking an interest in the UK’s virtue signalling? Is there any evidence that the slight warming since 1850 has been harmful? Where and how? And so on.

Killer Marmot
August 14, 2019 10:01 am

I’ve gotten my hands on a draft version of the commission report’s conclusions. Here it is:

Wrong type of wind.

August 14, 2019 10:28 am

Grid instability in the midst of a European recession will be interesting to watch….from a distance. Even more interesting will be the continued focus on all things green while the auto sector implodes and tax revenues decline.

Richard S.J. Tol
August 14, 2019 10:58 am

Delingpole learned, three days before publishing this on Breitbart and five days before it was republished here, that the blackout was, in fact, caused by a gas-fired power plant (apparently in response to a lightning strike).

Wind power has advantages and disadvantages, but this story is fake news.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Richard S.J. Tol
August 14, 2019 11:34 am

Wrong. As has already been pointed out here, this outage was caused by a lack of frequency control due to insufficient synchronous mass (massive spinning generators) on the grid. This is a direct result of shutting down large thermal plants and replacing them with diffuse renewables which can’t provide frequency control. In a stable system with sufficient synchronous mass, the loss of one small plant would have no effect. So the blame can be laid firmly at the feet of the renewable industry and their government supporters.

Richard S.J. Tol
Reply to  Paul Penrose
August 15, 2019 6:23 am

Wind has reduced momentum and made the grid more vulnerable, but that does not take away the chronology of events.

You can argue that there is too much wind on the system, but you can also argue that there is not enough spinning reserve and other frequency regulators.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Richard S.J. Tol
August 15, 2019 9:36 am

But the reason there is not enough spinning reserve is specifically because it has been REPLACED by renewable sources which have no ability to provide frequency control. Isolated generator failures can happen at any time, and has always been the case. Before the rush to renewables the grid was very resilient in the face of these failures due to having a lot of spinning mass (both in service and in reserve). So while the triggering event to this outage was the loss of a thermal plant and a wind farm, the root cause was the increased fragility of the grid due to the replacement of thermal plants with renewables.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Richard S.J. Tol
August 15, 2019 11:13 am


I thought synchronous condensers were meant to support voltage sags from short-circuits and to support the temporary frequency excursions on the grid. They can’t support the loss of generation capacity. Short circuits and frequency variations are typically short-term events. Loss of generation capacity can be a long-term event and the effects of this loss can’t be corrected by any amount of synchronous condensers.

Reply to  Richard S.J. Tol
August 14, 2019 12:19 pm

thanks rsjt!
the first to go offline was the gas plant
2 mins later Hornsea wind farm (partially constructed) went offline
Each of the installed WECs is 7MW. As of 2nd june 2019 “over 50 of the 174 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines are operational”
If wind was allowing maximum name plate production then disconnecting all of them would drop 360MW from the grid.
This does not agree with the drop in wind power at the point of interruption?—the-worlds-largest-offshore-wind-farm
It is interesting that they Ørsted are saying the power connection is AC and not DC.
“Longest ever AC offshore wind export cable system”

Paul Penrose
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 14, 2019 2:42 pm

Do you even know what frequency control on the electric grid means, or why lack of frequency control is a problem? Do you have any idea how the frequency is controlled and why renewables not only don’t help, but make it harder?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  ghalfrunt
August 18, 2019 3:49 pm

The delay between trips was no more than 40 seconds. See the grid frequency chart. It did not occur when Hornsea claimed it did in the REMIT system. Hornsea was producing around 830MW at the time it tripped: many more turbines are now tied in, and in fact they tied in a bunch more just on the Thursday – work that may have been responsible for the trip if they made a mistake in the process. When complete, it will have a capacity of 1.2 GW. So just about every claim you are making is wrong.

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Richard S.J. Tol
August 17, 2019 8:47 am

Wrong, it was wind (Hornsea) that failed first and the gas station a few moments later, as the frequency second-by-second record showed. This was never reported by the media but was reported on WUWT on 10 Aug bu an industry insider:

Reply to  Phil Salmon
August 17, 2019 12:12 pm

“it doesn’t add up”, Aug 10:

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

comment image: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:

comment image: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.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Richard S.J. Tol
August 18, 2019 3:43 pm

I wouldn’t be quite so hasty with your assertion about the chronology of events. The FT has reported that in fact the wind farm tripped first, according to the National Grid report to OFGEM. Many people have been misled by the reports on the REMIT system claiming that the wind farm didn’t lose output until 16:00GMT. That report is nonsense: the blackouts started just before 15:54GMT and the trips occurred over 15:52:30-15:53:10GMT as clearly shown by the frequency data. In fact, I think it is more than nonsense – it has the flavour of an attempted cover-up with intention to mislead, especially since it wasn’t submitted until nearly half an hour after the trips occurred.

In any case, the precise order of the trips matters little. Hornsea have admitted that they had wrongly configured their substation, and that was the reason they lost the entire output so rapidly. The precise detail is not yet public. The Little Barford trip may have been caused by lightning upsetting the transmission lines from there – but if it tripped second, it was already in a precarious situation following grid frequency lower, and potentially overshooting on that because it was probably feeding the same transmission line to London as Hornsea. Again, real detail should come from the report.

But the real point is that grid inertia was too low to allow the grid to recover from the transmission losses before load shedding frequency was reached. However you spin the rest of the story, that is a fundamental truth. Bear in mind that the grid suffered a 1.1GW loss of generation less than a month previously on 11th July, and a sudden NEMO interconnector outage in May of 1GW. These event did not risk the system in the same way because there was substantially more inertia available and less wind and solar in the generation mix. National Grid have been sailing too close to the wind on inertia and spinning reserve, and got found out. That’s the real story.

Donald Boughton
August 14, 2019 11:18 am

What do you expect when the politicians, civil servants and business men/women are selected from the scientifically illiterate, the technologically challenged and the politically deranged. The former UK prime minister Mrs May is a splendid example of this. These people then get make decisions about encryption of personal communications, national power systems etc from a position of total ignorance and get it totally wrong.
How can we fix this? The best that I can come up with is compulsory summer schools for MP’s and Civil Servants
covering mathematics, statistics, electrical engineering and physics to be held in the month of August.

August 14, 2019 12:20 pm

In-depth review of incident on this excellent energy site

Reply to  saveenergy
August 14, 2019 10:47 pm

It appears the problem to be somewhat similar to the SA outage; the overall system lacks rotating inertia when there is a high proportion of wind generation.

The temporary fix in SA has been to set a minimum on the connected capacity of gas turbines while limiting the maximum input from wind generators.

The long term fix that SA is proposing is installation of synchronous condensers:
These provide the rotating inertia and can assist with voltage control, frequency control, fault levels and power flow through the system. For SA, this is a lower cost option than keeping gas plant fired and on line but is another cost not accounted for in the pricing of output from intermittent ambient energy sourced generators.

The licensing of generators to connect to the grid has been less rigorous than registering a vehicle to travel on a roadway. In the case of SA, no one checked the fault settings of the wind generators and they are now being sued by the regulator for not meeting the standard. It would not surprise me to see similar proceedings in the UK.

On the other hand, the public need to get used to power outages if they want high market share from intermittent generators. In Australia, the public are being condition to accept “load management” as an effective tool to avoid grid collapse.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  saveenergy
August 18, 2019 3:53 pm

I had an exchange of comments with Kathryn Porter on the subsequent post she made there, when I put together my latest view based on all the evidence available to me so far.

August 14, 2019 2:10 pm

“The more unreliables — wind turbines, especially — are added to the grid, the more unstable the system will become.
That’s because brownouts and blackouts aren’t a bug of electricity systems heavily dependent on renewable energy. They’re a feature.”
Ask your Local Electric company Dispatcher. He will confirm the above statements. Utilities do not mind that it causes havoc and chaos as that creates extremely high prices which they get to pass along to the customer – YOU!

In the United States, Hydroelectric power produces 35% of the total renewable electricity, and 6.1% of the total U.S. electricity. For Hydro to be a backup, “Storage” source for Wind/Solar it would have to be equal to and greater than the total of all Unreliable Renewables. It is doubtful that in your great grandchildrens lifetime that could ever be achieved in the USA. All the countries that continually brag about numbers greater than 80% Renewables already have close to that amount, or greater, in Hydro power. Environmentalsists will never allow a 1000 fold increase in the number of dams and hydro facilities.

The Bath County Pumped Storage Station is a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant, which is described as the “largest battery in the world”,[2] with a maximum generation capacity of 3,003 MW[3], an average of 2,772 MW [2], and a total storage capacity of 24,000 MWh [2]. The station is located in the northern corner of Bath County, Virginia, on the southeast side of the Eastern Continental Divide, which forms this section of the border between Virginia and West Virginia. The station consists of two reservoirs separated by about 1,260 feet (380 m) in elevation. It is the largest pumped-storage power station in the world.[4]
And it only lasts less than 12 hours. ! ! !
In 2018, about 4,178 billion kilowatthours (kWh) (or 4.18 trillion kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale electricity generation facilities in the United States. It would take over a million of these pumped storage facilities, AND over a hundred new High tension distribution lines across the USA.

August 14, 2019 2:29 pm

A simple policy change will fix this problem. To be connected to the grid, all intermittents like solar and wind generators must be able to guarantee 100% dispatchable reliable power. That means they must always invest in backup so that when the sun doesn’t shine and the the wind doesn’t blow, power is still available. That backup may be batteries, pumped hydro, gas, diesel etc. Now let’s see the economics of these “free” renewables.

August 14, 2019 3:46 pm

So, as Heinlein might say, “Bad luck.”

Geoff Sherrington
August 14, 2019 5:33 pm

As an onlooker from Australia with a long history in power generation, I have only one question about this UK blackout.
What happened to the truth?
Readers like me must feel that each statement offered to the public suffers from defects. Incomplete, we need more time to understand this. Conflicting, it was/was not caused by renewables. Onowned, someone else caused it. And so on.

In truth, the system operators would have known within minutes about what caused the blackout. It is their job to know, so fast remedies can be put in place. What we are seeing is deliberate concealment of the truth, to create breathing space for making excuses.

On the Grid, there was a problem with spin frequency. It was alive and well amongst the guilty parties. Geoff S

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
August 18, 2019 4:01 pm

I agree, and I think I’ve put together some evidence to support your view that we’ve seen little but cover-up so far. I’m sure the eventual reports will be spun so that the public message is meaningless, except I fear that there will be a push for expensive solutions such as massive grid batteries (I’m thinking GW scale) – and yet they would be utterly misleading at the same time, because storage capacity is not going to be beyond the start up time for OCGT plant and diesel STOR – not storing energy from a windy day to a calm one to cover the lack of renewable generation.

John Sandhofner
August 14, 2019 6:50 pm

Science and sound engineering is suffering greatly as it relates to renewable energy. It is obvious that politicians are calling the shots and knowledgeable engineers are being silenced. I also noticed there was no mention of solar energy. I would guess the UK’s climate is not conducive to solar.

August 14, 2019 7:10 pm

Overlay with an also insane push to EVs to further drive up electricity demand. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course all these millions of EVS will be feeding back into the grid because of the magic street sockets and the rainbows and unicorns that recharged the batteries as required , even in the depths of winter. No problems.

August 14, 2019 9:42 pm

People will get used to it. Most Soviet communities showed that populations are quite happy with about 6 hours of electricity a day. For a better world, a sacrifice or two must be made.

(at this juncture it would be wise to place a :Sarc Tab:, just so there’s no confusion. 😉

August 14, 2019 9:52 pm

As the UK leaves the EU its almost a certainty that for a period, short or long, they will have a decrease in their living standards, i.e. a recession.

Coming on top of the trade war between the USDA and China it may well be a severe one.

I am of the opinion that only rich Western countries can afford to put up with the Greens and their nonsense, so I expect to see emergency legislation coming into being in the UK, a cancelling of any contracts favouring renewable energy enterprises, and hopefully a prosperous UK at the end of it.

There vis a old saying in Politics, “” Never let a crises go to waste””.


August 15, 2019 1:30 am

Boris has to win an election and get a majority. Tricky because the country is divided over Brexit. He has produced a raft of measures cleverly designed so everyone will like more than they dislike. Unfortunately it includes a commitment to renewables so Boris must consider that a vote winner. To turn England you have to turn David Attenborough who is a much loved national treasure.

Coach Springer
August 15, 2019 7:07 am

Wind company lobbying is a key problem when they have the politicians and the media all pushing in the same wrong direction. There is no natural counterbalance.

R. Wright
August 15, 2019 7:14 am

Boris Johnson needs a Richard Feynman type on his Blackout investigation. He needs someone who can talk with the engineers, not just the management people, or the PR people. He needs someone brave enough to write his own appendix to whatever report a committee prepares.

From the Appendix to The Challenger Disaster:

“Appendix F – Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle

by R. P. Feynman


It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the
probability of a failure with loss of vehicle and of human life. The
estimates range from roughly 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000. The higher
figures come from the working engineers, and the very low figures from
management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of
agreement? Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a
Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could
properly ask “What is the cause of management’s fantastic faith in the

August 16, 2019 10:18 pm

How many more fuel poverty deaths per year is the UK building into their cost benefit study ?
Is another 10,000 acceptable while also doubling as a population control strategy and a means to enforce Britain’s well established class system where the poor always die first ?
The rich get rich and the poor can freeze . Such a civil country .

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