The UK Power Grid and Winter

There a several major power grids around the world that have “greened” themselves to teetering on the brink of collapse, such as California and South Australia, the UK, and soon to be followed by New York State.

There is a post about the UK.

Seeing a stories, such as this the last few days:

Britain’s National Grid issues warning for electricity system tightness on Friday

By Reuters Staff

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s National Grid issued an electricity margin notice (EMN) for 4.00-7.00 p.m. (1600-1900 GMT) on Friday, asking generators if they can make more power available.

The grid operator said there is a system margin shortfall of 1157 megawatts compared with the amount it would like to be available.

Or social media posts:

Of course there’s still articles like this:

UK energy supply heading for greenest year on record, says National Grid

 Ben Chapman 30/12/2020

The UK’s energy supply is heading for its greenest year ever as record-breaking wind power generation helped to cut emissions, data from National Grid shows.

The amount of carbon emissions produced for each unit of electricity –  the carbon intensity – plunged 60 per cent between 2013 and 2019 as new renewable capacity has come online while coal-fired power stations have been decommissioned.

This is a request for our British readers.
Enlighten the readers across the pond.
Has the weather been unusual?
Is much worse expected to come?
How likely is it that the current steps being taken will prevent blackouts?
How much worse is it likely to get in the next year, three, or five?

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Adam Gallon
January 9, 2021 6:06 am

Not unusual, been cold, daytime temps barely above freezing, very calm and been foggy/cloudy in places.
Generation, interconnecter use & demand here.

alastair gray
Reply to  Adam Gallon
January 9, 2021 8:25 am

We live just west of London. Our Hotpoint washing machine is under a “do not use “warning” because apparently it can go on fire so we did our washing in the bath, hand wrung on Tuesday morning and put my it out to dry. On Tuesday night it was a bit stiff with frost. Wednesday night stiff as a board Thursday afternoon more or less dry. No hoar frost on the lawn so not that cold I guess

Reply to  alastair gray
January 9, 2021 9:14 am

After a couple of days below zero all of the moisture has been frozen out of the air which becomes very dry. In order to produce a hoar frost the air must contain water to deposit on cold surfaces as ice. Dry air cannot produce a frost.

macdara bryan
Reply to  Martin
January 9, 2021 8:55 pm

Hoar frost forms on things in January in interior Alaska every night. Can be -30f for a month but it forms on every bush or tree every night. When I see bird tracks and there is frost on the willow twigs they are feeding on I move on. When there is no frost I pay attention to the dog and chamber a shell for the ptarmigan that are probably still there. I have always been curious about why it forms so heavily when everything is frozen solid but don’t know the reason.

Writing Observer
Reply to  Martin
January 9, 2021 10:50 pm

There is very dry air – and absolutely dry air. The latter is found only in a laboratory. (Relative humidity at the South Pole can get as low as 0.03% – but not 0.00%.)

There is always some water vapor through ice/snow sublimation, some from evergreen transpiration, some from animal respiration, and some still from ground evaporation. It doesn’t take very much vapor pressure to form; hoarfrost is quite low density.

(Well studied subject – mainly because power transmission lines can have fairly severe corona losses when hoarfrost forms.)

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  alastair gray
January 9, 2021 4:15 pm

Learn to do it like in the olden day serfs; no modern day conveniences for you! This is but a foretaste of what the green totalitarianism leads to.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  Adam Gallon
January 9, 2021 9:37 am

In response to the two fine web sites (links among the comments here) showing the UK electric grid demand and supply details, my suggestion to our friends in the UK is to ensure that the supply of natural gas is adequate and that there are backup gas turbines ready to repond to system stress. I know this is obvious but the details are nicely displayed and news to me here in North America. Best wishes to all and good luck.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
January 9, 2021 11:27 am

Its 8pm on the balmy South coast of England, just about the warmest winter area in Britain. Its just on freezing. We have had several nights of temperatures of around -2C, unusual for this area but by no means unique. We get this every 4 or 5 years.

Fortunately, even though its dark, the Solar panels are belting out electricity and even though its dead calm the wind turbines are whirling merrily away, adding to our surfeit of energy from weather dependent renewables. Unfortunately of course, that is satire. These Cold, sunless and windless conditions occur for four or five weeks every winter.

Quite what we are supposed to use when renewables become ever more dominant I do not know.

We badly need several grown up power stations. Where are the Chinese when we need them.?


Reply to  tonyb
January 9, 2021 11:53 am

The Chinese are laughing at us. They are making boatloads of money manufacturing and selling solar panels and wind turbines to idiotic Western governments. Meanwhile, they are building dozens of nuclear power stations.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Graemethecat
January 9, 2021 12:56 pm

And coal plants.

David A
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 2:29 pm

…coal plants by the hundreds

Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 3:13 pm

Yep. I neglected to mention that.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Graemethecat
January 9, 2021 4:41 pm

They are also buying up as many ports around the world as they can, Port Darwin here in Australia being one on a 99 year lease. I found out my energy provider, Energy Australia, is owned by a Chinese company. As soon as my 12 month contract is up (Very soon) I will be changing supplier.

Julian Flood
Reply to  tonyb
January 9, 2021 12:38 pm

We badly need some grown up politicians. When he was Minister for Energy and Climate Change Matthew Hancock MP didn’t know — until I mentioned it — that solar wasn’t the answer. He told me that it was so cheap that it would solve all our problems. “Yes, Minister, but you’ll need to store it.” He has a habit of switching off for a few seconds when he’s out of his depth. Then he said “Yes, yes, we’ll have to store it” and Tiggered away.

The minister for Energy didn’t know that you either use electricity as you generate it or you store it, it doesn’t just hang around.

I wonder what’s happened to him? I hope he’s not been put in charge of anything important.


Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Julian Flood
January 9, 2021 4:23 pm

To store solar energy for use when there is night (who could possible have foreseen the Sun would stop shining?) you actually have to generate two time the enrgy you need, that is, twice the number of panels and acres of ruined agricultural land, as initially thought. Then add the need to power all vehicles by electricity, you can surely see the folly.

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
January 9, 2021 5:07 pm

You do NOT need twice – just put solar panels up on every roof would be suffice. No need for shadowing acres of green land, though….
Just thought I should mention that.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Chris
January 9, 2021 6:45 pm

just put solar panels up on every roof

Nonsense! The task of connecting all that to the grid would be so complex and waste so much energy in transmission it would be impractical … not to mention outrageously expensive.

Oh …and are you qualified to service yours … to keep them clean, check for shorts and repair them after wind damage?

Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 11, 2021 4:08 am

On the contrary – the generated power is used mostly at the direct neighbourhood, town, city etc. So the need to transmit the generated energy long distances drops significantly.

Service? What service? Keeping the modules clean in winter – OK, I see that, but shorts and wind damage? Shorts do not happen if installed by a professional, and wind damage does not happen if the modules are either installed close + parallel to the roof or integrated into the roof as the wind cannot ger under the modules then.

I’ve seen this many time in central Europe, they have them on roofs for 10 to 20 years now and no damage happened (and they have storms there!) nor was extensive service needed so far.

You Sir do not know what you are talking about.

Last edited 6 months ago by Chris
Rory Forbes
Reply to  Chris
January 11, 2021 10:19 am

You Sir do not know what you are talking about.

Based on the tone of your response, I’m betting you’ve never bothered to research the down side of privately owned solar panels, especially in Northern climates. The reality is far different than the hype and wishful thinking. Ge ahead … believe what you want. The entirety of the AGW true believer cult is founded on nonsense.

Reply to  Chris
January 10, 2021 2:46 am

Wrong. !

Roof-top solar cannot feed back past the nearest transformer.

Reply to  fred250
January 10, 2021 11:07 pm

Not even wrong, just ridiculous.A transformer is a 2 way street.

Reply to  Julian Flood
January 10, 2021 2:43 am

I don’t recall him being in energy Julian,?
For our US cousins, he is now in charge of the total COVID19 response. Which if we are lucky (he is MP for both of us) will utterly destroy his career.
He is without doubt the most useless globalist apparatchik ever groomed for high office. Since Cameron anyway.Oh. and May. And John Major…

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  tonyb
January 9, 2021 4:20 pm

You need grown-ups running the country; not that useless lot in parliament. All of them. They all prattle about being green because it sounds so nice at dinner poarties and who, publicly, can possibly be against saving the environment, the planet even. Politicians of all stripes think this is an easy way to look good. They are wrong. It’s an easy way to look utterly imbecilic.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  tonyb
January 9, 2021 6:39 pm

We badly need several grown up power stations.

It isn’t “grown up power stations” you need. It’s grown up politicians and administrators able to distinguish between the childish fantasy of clean free renewable energy and the real sort of energy that heats homes. Great Britain’s weather has a history of being very unkind to stupids.

Eoin Mc
Reply to  tonyb
January 11, 2021 3:45 pm

Ireland’s electricity grid system issued what they call an Amber Alert last week to energy providers to bring back onto the grid mothballed fossil power stations after the wind stopped blowing. The context to this is how two peat fired power stations had been closed down even earlier than planned due to the imminent penalties that European countries will face for not reducing their carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030. Ireland has no nuclear power statiobs. Most of Europe is banning internal combustion engines by 2030, adding to the winter blackout death spiral that we are merrily sleepwalking our way into courtesy of teenage evangelists and the wholly politically correct political class.

Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 6:08 am

Spains capital Madrid drowns in snow

Europe was close to blackout yesterday 14:05

Frequency went below 49.8Hz at 14:05
Hat it become 250mHz lower: Blackout

Last edited 6 months ago by Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 6:42 am

I presume that is 250 milli HZ, a quarter HZ?

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 7:38 am


Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 7:50 am

M is mega, m is milli.

Reply to  Felix
January 9, 2021 8:53 am

We have a lot of non-technical people here who don’t know that.

Reply to  MarkW
January 9, 2021 1:11 pm

Thus the small education. Some will learn, some already know.

Ron Long
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 7:18 am

No, No, Madrid/Spain went Green, that is white Global Warming that is falling/accumulating. As an aside, although somewhat an appropriate one, I readily admit that never in my life did I save a stupid person from themselves.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 1:01 pm

Power engineering isn’t my thing. What exactly happens at 49.5Hz? Do the local dc power supplies just droop so much that they don’t work, or something else happens at the syncing stations on the grid? Or does it load power generating stations so much that they’re at risk of physical failure and have to be shut off/disconnected?

Anyone got a nice explanation that isn’t a dissertation?

Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 1:46 pm

The frequency needs to be stable so all the power generation added to the grid stays in synch with one another. When demand exceeds production, the frequency drops. If it drops below a pre-determined level, areas are cut off from the grid (i.e., suffer a blackout) to decrease the demand on the grid, and keep it stable. In addition, electrical devices designed to operate within a specific range of frequencies (eg, electric motors) could be damaged if the frequency drops below their design limits.

Hope a real EE can add more.

Analog Design Engineer
Reply to  jtom
January 9, 2021 2:42 pm

Any electronic equipment that I know of is designed to operate from 47Hz to 63Hz, seeing as Europe is 50Hz and US is 60Hz. I would doubt that the grid needs to be stable to 0.5Hz but it’s not really my area. I could imagine at higher frequencies that mains leakage current would increase due to capacitive reactance, which may then cause tripping. Perhaps similar issues would occur at lower frequencies due to inductance.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Analog Design Engineer
January 9, 2021 3:11 pm

As I understand it the UK grid is legally bound to keep the frequency between defined upper and lower limits. I don’t know what they are but when the grid frequency is outside these then power cuts are the result whether or not most electronics are happy to keep working

Reply to  Analog Design Engineer
January 9, 2021 3:15 pm

The problem occurs when power plants get out of phase with the power on the grid.
Imagine a power plant who’s output is on the positive side of the sine wave, while the grid itself is on the negative side.
The transformers in the power plant, and perhaps the generators as well, would melt down if there weren’t something to disconnect the power plant from the grid.

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2021 1:09 am

Cant happen. Fake information. The grid is phase locked. They all go down together. As do any synchronous motors attached.

Reply to  Analog Design Engineer
January 9, 2021 4:29 pm

There is a lot of much more sensitive equipment connected to the grid as well.

Often in critical areas.

But the main thing is synchronicity.

If you added sine waves slightly out of sync or frequency, you can get what could be called “beats” of much higher amplitude, which can be very destructive.

Reply to  fred250
January 10, 2021 1:10 am

More fake information. Cant happen. Doesnt happen

Reply to  Analog Design Engineer
January 10, 2021 1:08 am

It does, its dedigned to be rock steady. If it goes off load shedding will happen.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  jtom
January 9, 2021 5:46 pm

First, if the GRID frequency starts dropping that means you have reached to limit of the power that can be supplied. The actual generators, all of them, start to slow down because their isn’t enough motive force to increase the power output. That’s a simple explanation, there is more to how much power the windings, etc. can support.

Second, if just one slows down then the frequencies start being out of sync. You can easily imagine one being at positive max output while the next is at minimum max. Little voltage on the point where they connect on the grid.

Lastly, lots of manufacturing depends on pretty close frequencies. Just imagine a bottling company if the lid spinner didn’t match the bottle positioner.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
January 10, 2021 1:11 am

Wrong. They all go down together. Please dont post fake information.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 4:50 am

Sorry it doesn’t happen in synchronous fashion. You’ll find a plant that has reached max and starts to slow is actually fed by others until they too reach max. Pretty soon you have a non-synchronous system that is out of control if you do nothing.

You do realize there isn’t much difference between a motor and as generator. I had a professor in college who had us spent HOURS messing with AC motors and generators to learn them inside out. Keep in mind these were all similar units, just their use was different at different times.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jim Gorman
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 6:32 am

Leo, from my reading, they all go down together to avoid the problems enumerated by others here. What they are saying is quite correct. It is what would happen if design elements like load shedding were not performed, the answer to the original question.

Carguy Pete
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 1:54 pm

As the grid frequency drops below certain levels, generating stations start tripping off.

Reply to  Carguy Pete
January 10, 2021 2:45 am

renewable sources will yes.

John in Oz
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 3:30 pm

An analogy – when using a skipping rope you need to synchronise your jumps with the rotation of the rope. If these are not ‘in phase’ then disaster occurs.

Un-synchronised generators can cause the drive motors to be destroyed due to the competing forces from the generators.

Ron Clutz
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 7:49 pm

Here is a synopsis in plain language from a NZ engineer:

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Ron Clutz
January 10, 2021 5:07 am

Great explanation!

Reply to  Ron Clutz
January 11, 2021 6:13 am

Thank you Ron. The following post is from 2017 and ~2007.

Our idiot politicians cannot say they were not warned about the downsides of wind power.

Introducing large amounts of wind power into the gird is analogous to bring large numbers of screaming lunatics into a public library.

Best, Allan

No, grid-connected wind power actually sucks – it wastes money and energy and degrades grid reliability.

A decade ago I tried to simplify this message for our idiot politicians and those who vote for them, and wrote:

“Wind power – it doesn’t just blow – it sucks!”

“Solar power – stick it where the Sun don’t shine!”

Apparently even these blunt messages were too difficult for them. Since then, trillions of dollars of scarce global resources have been squandered in foolish green energy schemes.

Regards, Allan :

Iain Reid
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 10, 2021 12:47 am

Frequency is a what shows the difference between supply and demand, A drooping frequency shows insufficient power input and vice versa.
Most equipment is not too bothered about a small variation but the essential is to have enough generated power to maintain the nominal.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 7:45 pm

ENTSO-E aren’t saying what caused it, but the grid split into two islands between 14:05 and 15:08 CET

While they claim “most countries were unaffected”, the implication is that some were.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 7:03 am

Some more information starting to appear

A commission of European experts will investigate the causes of the incident occurred Friday afternoon in the European power transmission system and which left several areas in northwestern <b>Romania</b> without electricity, sources from the Energy Ministry told AGERPRES.

“An incident that occurred on Friday at 15:05 in the interconnected European electric transmission grid caused equipment in Romania’s electric transmission grid and in other countries to go off. The northwestern part of Romania was affected. Romania’s electric transmission grid was restored to normal operating parameters around 16:00, the power supply was restored to all affected consumers around 16:45,” the company’s release reads.–640149

January 9, 2021 6:14 am

Fairly normal winter cold snap. National Grid are a disgrace and there is no chance of electric cars or heat pumps being powered.

Ian W
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
January 9, 2021 10:22 am

That won’t stop Gummer’s CCC demanding that both heat pumps and electric vehicles are mandated. The current temperature in UK would in any case prevent most heat pumps from working correctly. So hot water and radiators would be cold. Supplemental electric heating of water for radiator type central heating is extremely inefficient and therefore expensive, but that is the standard method of distributing the heat in UK housing stock.

If UK thinks the number of deaths due to the ‘pandemic’ are high, the excess winter deaths due to mandated installation of ineffective heat pump heating will kill far more people from cold. But unlike COVID deaths that are mawkishly pored over and given headline news with lurid graphics, tens of thousands of deaths from cold in three months are of no interest to UK politicians or media the last really bad year only merited a single article from the Telegraph. That will become especially true if the change to the failing heating systems was mandated by the government.

Reply to  Ian W
January 9, 2021 1:20 pm

A lot of people aren’t looking at why the globalists want you in electric cars. Sure, there’s a number who believe they’re good for the environment. In the main though the globalists want to be able to control what you can and can’t do. At present, you have too much power. You travel where you want when you want because you have access to fuel for your vehicle. Once we’re all on electric vehicles, our range is limited and the amount of electricity to even charge our car is limited. Choose between heat and travel. Choose between cooking and travel. ‘Chose’ not to travel because there was t enough electricity last night. This is about benevolently depowering the west and we’re silly enough to choose it.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Geoff
January 9, 2021 2:45 pm

Petrol & diesel can be rationed with greater ease, than electricity can.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Adam Gallon
January 9, 2021 5:34 pm

Smart meters can ration electricity very effectively. They just cut you off in your own mini blackout. Comrade Gallon, you have used you ration for today. As punishment your supply will not be restored for at least 48 hours.

Reply to  Geoff
January 9, 2021 11:30 pm

Correct. Not to mention that your electric car will be part of the Internet of Things and will be able to be remotely controlled. It won’t matter if it’s fully charged or not it may be mandated that no one from a certain area will be driving today or no one will be entering certain areas today. It isn’t as far fetched as it seems. Nothing from the Green, SJW leftist camps would surprise me. Nothing.

Reply to  Ian W
January 9, 2021 1:22 pm

Temp outside -1.5C. Temp inside 21.5C. Heating system ASHP, drawing 1.45Kw. Location: England.

Reply to  JohnM
January 10, 2021 2:50 am

Small house then

There are 20 million households., If they all used electricity at that rate that would be 29GW., which is about 85% of what the grid is generating now. Using coal. And uranium. And gas.

Ian W
Reply to  JohnM
January 10, 2021 6:49 am

Glad you are warm and toasty
Do tell us what happens when the temperature drops lower – as it may do with the next SSW – minus 5C is when you will note the heat pump stop to work so well. Note that some areas of Spain are well below minus 20C. Having your heating cease to work at those temperatures can rapidly reduce your sense of humour.

Reply to  Ian W
January 9, 2021 8:00 pm

Addendum to the following:

Combine a colder winter with energy shortages, needlessly high energy costs, colder homes and winter pneumonia and flu’s, and we have the makings of a significant spike in Excess Winter Deaths – see our 2015 paper here:



Posted in 2013:

I suggest that in less than a decade, the current statements of most world leaders on the subject of global warming will be widely viewed with derision – as the lunatic ravings of scoundrels and imbeciles.

My primary concern at this time is that Earth is about to enter a period of global cooling that could be severe, and could result in significant loss of life, especially among the elderly of Britain and Europe, since the fearless leaders of those countries have created “the perfect storm” by damaging their energy systems with costly and ineffective grid-connected wind and solar power schemes – “solutions” to a false global warming crisis in a cooling world.

We warned of this debacle in 2002, but to no effect. It has all, regrettably, unfolded as it should not have.

We wrote in 2002:

[PEGG, reprinted at their request by several other professional journals , the Globe and Mail and la Presse in translation, by Baliunas, Patterson and MacRae]
Formerly at:
Now at:

On global warming:
“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

On green energy:
“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.”

[Calgary Herald, September 1, 2002, based on a phone conversation with Paleoclimatologist Dr. Tim Patterson]

On Global Cooling:

Best regards Kate, be well, strive to be happy, Allan

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
January 9, 2021 1:52 pm

The powers that be have no intention of allowing more electric cars than the existing grid can handle. They also have no intention of you keeping your ICE vehicles. Similar wrt heat pumps.

Anyone thinking, “but that means…” the answer is, ‘yes, it does.’

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
January 10, 2021 2:47 am

It’s not NGs fault, they have been issued with political directives by the EU, and now Princess NutNutz.

They are doing the best that they can, but their hands are tied,

Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 6:18 am

Please, it would be nice, when you comment, if you include the area, state or country you describe.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 9, 2021 8:10 pm

Quebec goes full-Nazi – a mandatory curfew – off the streets by 8pm with police enforcement:

Spencer Fernando January 9, 2021

January 9, 2021 6:19 am

December CET was +0.3 above normal. Jan CET is currently -2 below normal. Is this weather unusual? I would say no….it is quite normal in winters to see a 1-3 week period of high pressure, cold temps and low wind. We just haven’t seen this for the last few years as it has been dominated by +NAO Atlantic Westerly pattern types and we have not seen a proper cold winter since 2010/11

Richard (the cynical one)
January 9, 2021 6:19 am

Since the Malthusian goal is to have a ‘sustainable’ population a fraction of the current size, a non functioning power grid, especially in the winter, would be a wonderful thing, a major step in the right direction. And the surviving serfs could be kept occupied burying the bodies of their unneeded excess to inventory friends and families. Voila!

Ed Reid
Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
January 9, 2021 6:42 am

The effect could be accelerated by periodic or continuous pandemics, largely affecting those approaching “end of life”.

patrick healy
Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
January 9, 2021 8:09 am

Now Now Richard you are very naughty.
You know, I know, Boris (Corbyn) knows, and all “the science” knows that all winter flu, excess winter deaths from inability to afford exorbitant fuel, is due to Covid. Come on man – get a grip.

Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
January 9, 2021 12:12 pm

This will increase the COVID19 Death Statistics and settle Mathusian’s furrowed brows at the same time. Locking down your ageing populations in their double glazed boxes during cold and then elevating the cost of the heating and forcing them to find alternates means to heat food will not be good for their health. The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are those of COVID19 and ventilation is largely useless.

Steve Richards
January 9, 2021 6:30 am

In the UK, we have been a leading light in terms of stupidity for reliability and availability of electrical supplies.
The government have stated theh will be banning IC cars, forcing the increased use of electric vehicles.
Banning new installations of gas heating, wood burners.
All of which will dramatically increase the requirements for reliable and cheap electricity.
And what do we have, a normal winter, with normal winter weather, temps around -5 to 5C and we are on the verge of blacking out.
When politicians listen to pressure groups rather than engineers this happens.
Politicians are always technically stupid but with good advice come to good decisions. But when the engineers are downed out by pressure groups, then bad things happen.
Perhaps we should start asking ppliticuan worldwide, should be listening to your reliable engineers or XR etc.

Reply to  Steve Richards
January 9, 2021 6:59 am

It’s not “pressure groups”, rather the City of London – just listen to Mark Carney, ex-BofE chief, now UN green financier. Listen to Prince Charles gushing over Carney’s plans at Davos.
The “pressure groups” are playthings for high finance, quite a gaggle.
Of course WallStreet is fully on-board – just listen to BlackRock at Jackson Hole and now the FED – regime change to a green Dollar.
The EU is on-board – listen to van der Leyen’s green new deal plans. ECB chief Lagarde is on-board – listen to the plans for a green digital Euro.

Now the question is who will propose a green digital Sterling Pound? Would BoJo try such a stunt?

patrick healy
Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 8:11 am

Bob Bon you seem to have forgotten “my” Pope.

Reply to  Steve Richards
January 9, 2021 7:57 am

” politicians are always technically stupid” it’s worse than that in the UK, most of them are so stupid they can’t even buy a suit that fits properly.

alastair gray
Reply to  Steve Richards
January 9, 2021 8:27 am

write to your MP But the daft git wont listen

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Steve Richards
January 9, 2021 10:29 am

Obviously Boris has not kicked Carrie out yet. At least he can always call on the experts of South Australia if he wants independent advice!

Julian Flood
Reply to  Steve Richards
January 9, 2021 12:42 pm

Better now than later. If things go tango uniform soon we’re in with a chance. Give it a few more years and a glitch will be catastrophic.

P.S. The Grid engineers should be in the House of Lords. They are working miracles keeping the lights on while HMG keeps sabotaging their efforts.

Mick Walker
January 9, 2021 6:37 am

East coast, Yorkshire. HU192HN
About 1 degree C.
It will be colder inland, it usually is.
I can over 100 big offshore turbines out of my window.
They’re idling, about 5rpm.

Richard Brown
Reply to  Mick Walker
January 9, 2021 7:19 am

Hi Mick. Here in Hull, East Youkshire, it’s cold, calm and last night’s frost is still lingering in the shade. The weather outlook looks increasingly cold….even the alarmist, warmist met office are grudgingly mentioning snow and cold. The green idiots in the govt will have to use magic to stop blackouts.

Reply to  Mick Walker
January 9, 2021 7:45 am

Across most of England and Ireland, there is barely enough wind blowing for idling (4PM GMT)

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Redge
January 9, 2021 10:31 am

Chickens? Roosting?

Reply to  Mike Lowe
January 9, 2021 10:32 am

Chickens roosting probably create more wind

Reply to  JohnM
January 9, 2021 10:28 pm

Your link shows a few sites in Scotland which have peak gusts in excess of 29mph. Scotland is not the whole of the UK.

I could equally point to the weather station at Rosterne which currently shows wind speed at 4mph.

At 6am GMT the whole of the UK is has a wind speed no more than 7 mph and wind is providing 4.2GW out of a demand of 27.4GW

These figures may change by the time you click on the links

Reply to  JohnM
January 9, 2021 10:39 pm

All but two of the weather stations in your link are Scottish Isles. Of those they are predominantly in the Hebrides.

If you look at this link there is barely any wind across the whole of mainland Europe (6AM GMT)

Reply to  Mick Walker
January 9, 2021 1:33 pm

2124z 01/09/2021. England. Total grid load 36.44GW. Wind providing 6.46GW, 17.73% of grid power. Coal at 1.46GW. All-You-Can-Eat-Electricity-UK

Reply to  Mick Walker
January 10, 2021 8:03 am

In many the RPM never goes higher than 5 anyway…..a blade diameter of 100M would have a tip speed maximum of 90m/s +-. These are heavy items….weighing-in at 5 tonnes +

January 9, 2021 6:40 am

A huge system moving from East of the Appalachians around Washington D.C. towards us at great speed will develop into a massive depression accompanied by much upheaval and danger to life. Otherwise just as cold and damp as usual.

January 9, 2021 6:48 am

What will happen now after Brexit with British imported power from France and the Netherlands (nuclear ) ?

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 7:52 am

They will fit generators on their indoor training bikes. They are not supposed to leave home anyway, I suppose.
In Germany a mother was out with her small son sitting on a sledge, having fun in the snow. Then two more kids joined the one kid on the sledge.
Then the police saw it – fine can be up to 25,000 euro (about the in US dollar).
Emperor Merkel don’t like you to have fun in the snow, which is sad.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 8:36 am

bonbon. A little publicised part of the Brexit Trade Deal was that EU Fishermen mainly French, Spanish and Dutch, will have access to UK waters until 2026. In return the French and Dutch will continue to supply electricity via their interconnectors, although the Dutch one is currently offline, possibly due to failure but I’m not certain. Unless Bojo gets his finger out sharpish in 2026 there are going to be a lot of unhappy fishermen in the UK. My view is that the hope is that in 5 years when this deal comes up for review a general election will be so far away, about 3 years, and people will have moved on from Brexit that throwing the fishing communities under the bus will not have lasting repurcussions.

Interestingly it seems that fish landed in the UK and moved to the EU in lorries is having the most problems with customs paperwork and delays

Gerry, England
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 5:03 am

Bojo in 2026? Chances are he will barely make Summer. The UK has local elections in May – assuming the Buffoon doesn’t put them back – and the Tories stand to get a good kicking. With the economy crumbling due to the effects of the Brexit he delivered, as well as the lockdown disasters, the Tory Grandees will either get rid of him or he will go anyway as he is not one for hard work and a difficult life. He expected to go down in history as the second Churchill as opposed to our worst PM in living memory if not ever. He will no doubt be very aware that if he falls too far he won’t be able to cash in on the lucrative post PM speaking circuit or directorships no matter how much joviality, blond-moppism or Latin bollocks he uses.

Rich Davis
Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 9:58 am

If the Brits are paying £1000/MWh, I suspect that the Dutch will be all for free trade in electricity. But there’s no predicting the French. Freezing Anglo-Saxons to death may be worth foregoing filthy lucre.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 10, 2021 5:04 am

As an update it has spiked to £4000/MWh.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Gerry, England
January 10, 2021 9:45 am

Well Gerry, if you give all the fishing rights to the EU, the French might agree to a fiver for a KWh assuming they have a surplus of course. They’ll even accept your surplus wind power and only charge you a nominal dumping fee.

Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 10:35 am


What if the plant blows up 😉

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Derg
January 9, 2021 1:03 pm

At least it’ll be warm…

Reply to  Derg
January 9, 2021 3:23 pm


Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 1:45 pm

Nothing as yet. Prices the same and availability the same. Things may change eventually. Since we can now set VAT differently from the EU mandated rates, the energy VAT could be lower or higher, or the same. It’s 5% atm.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  bonbon
January 9, 2021 6:02 pm

The power we got from the Netherlands came from the MPP3 coal fired power station adjacent to the HVDC terminal of the BritNed interconnector as Maasvlakte, at the mouth of the Rhine near Rotterdam. I say “got” because the interconnector has been out of action with a cable fault since December 8th, and is not expected to return until Feb 1st. Cable faults on these subsea connectors are not that uncommon, and outages an last months while they locate the fault and work out how to repair it, and order the necessaries in order to effect the repair. Sometimes extensive sections of cable have to be replaced. The outage has contributed to the inadequate system margins, and was not allowed for in National Grid’s Winter Outlook.

The French Connection has been working normally (as has the Belgian NEMO one), and the UK has happily been paying a premium to secure supply during shortages, and to pay for them to take away surplus wind power, exporting at negative prices, rather than pay out even higher sums in curtailment payments (though to be fair, the last time that happened was in December during Storm Bella, when we paid them £60/MWh – followed a few hours later by prices surging to £850/MWh as the wind died way). Commissioning of the next link to France seems to have been delayed, but since they are investors in it they will want to see power flows to generate revenues. The procedures for booking capacity are a bit more clunky than they used to be, because the EU refuse to let the computer systems that handled it continue to do so after leaving the Single Market. That probably does as much damage to EU suppliers as to the UK in terms of missed opportunities.

The cold and windless weather has seen relatively tight supply across the whole of Europe. Even Norwegian prices are no longer depressed (they had been very low because they had taken in so much wind power at low or negative prices that they had failed to run down their reservoirs threatening them with overflow, and demand was sharply lower due to virus lockdowns). It should be a clear signal that when Germany and France start shutting down dispatchable nuclear and coal the risk of shortages and blackouts will escalate sharply. French nuclear supply has been under par because they didn’t complete the summer maintenance schedule, and so some stations remain shut.

Iain Reid
Reply to  bonbon
January 10, 2021 12:53 am


Britain has had a HV link with France for 50 years or so, it’s not new. It’s probably larger in capcity but that’s it. I do think it’s a mistake to install more just to reduce our requirement to build more capacity though.

Reply to  Iain Reid
January 10, 2021 2:58 am

To be fair these are commercial decisions not political ones. Peak French demand dies not coincide with peak GB demand, so an inter connector can make money arbitraging the difference.
We never for example push them surplus wind power. We never have any. But we do fire up coal to help them out in cold weather when we have a bit of wind as well.

Normally their nuclear fleet is running a surplus and its cheap, so we buy it instead of burning gas. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 6:07 am

Not quite true, Leo. Take a look what happened on 1st November for example:

We were exporting to France in the small hours, with wind additionally being constrained off because the surplus was so great. Prices went negative. During Strom Bella in December, there was a similar event with exports at negative £60/MWh to France and Belgium. And here’s April 13th,

with exports to France, the Netherlands and Belgium even as we were also absorbing surplus wind from Ireland, and negative prices of up to £60/MWh

In this case, because negative prices persisted for longer than 6 hours, CFD wind generators got no CFD payments at all for the period of continuous negative pricing. RO subsidies continued for other wind farms of course, and the negative price reflects the subsidy.

Reply to  bonbon
January 10, 2021 2:54 am

Nothing. The politicians are totally unaware of what is happening at grid level. Nothing has changed at all. Ther are np cross border levies and no incerased requirement for reporting

January 9, 2021 6:48 am

In a free, market driven economy, solar and wind would have died still birth. It is down to mostly that governments can wantonly exploit their taxpayers that wind and solar are even discussed, let alone afford to be promoted. It’ll be most helpful to the cause as the mandated EV kicks in.
Taxpayers will be paying for that too. Plus the ecosystem to fuel the EV battery. Plus the fossil fuels necessary to feed the grid. The corporate world gets rich off the taxpayer, but that’s the government regulated market. Isn’t it!
Perhaps governments will raise the minimum wage. That always rebalances the market inequities due to government interference. Right!? 😏

B Clarke
January 9, 2021 6:53 am

Coal power is surpassing solar, and at times wind, coal power generation is 3/4 capacity the last 3 days ,round the clock. Snow and heavy snow the past week across the country local to me -6c the last night and below freezing the last week, GFS is giving more snow and freezing temps from the 24th ish to the end of the month, next week slightly warmer and wetter. Unusual observation below freezing yet no frost on the grass, except last night , cow shed water pipes frozen. Yet this is mild compared with EG Spain and Japan are experiencing.

The predictions of the last few years of a GSM are playing out to be true.

I’m in the west of the UK and have not seen these weather conditions for many years.

Stephen Richards
January 9, 2021 7:00 am

West Central France. Last year we had no frost all winter. This year we have already has 4 air frostslowest temp being -3C. Daytime temps consistently below normal (10°C) for a week. We had a discernible patch of snow overnight thursday/Friday which was the first snow in several years.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Stephen Richards
January 9, 2021 2:05 pm

Stephen, we are not allowed to use ‘normal’ when temps are lower these days, we have to say ‘average’. We only use ‘normal’ as a qualifier when temps are 1 or 2 tenths of a degree above what’s expected. So it’s ‘below average’ and ‘above normal’. See how that works? Watch any BBC weather report for confirmation of this.

Roger Tilbury
January 9, 2021 7:08 am

I live in Bedford in Central England. The last couple of weeks have been cold, but nothing unusual for winter. Not much wind and often foggy.
We have a 4.62 kW solar arrayon our roof, facing roughly SW and at around 43 degrees so not ideal. Here’s a picture of what we’ve generated this month so far. Not much as you can see, similar story last month with 67kWh genreated total.

John Pickens
Reply to  Roger Tilbury
January 9, 2021 12:19 pm

I know you mean well with the solar array, and you probably got some sweet rebate and feed in perks, but you do realize that your array has consumed more energy to produce than it has contributed to the grid, do you not? Don’t believe me? Do the math and prove me wrong.

Start with Silane Gas production and go from there.

Roger Tilbury
Reply to  John Pickens
January 9, 2021 12:25 pm

Yes, I know, but for me personally it will be beneficial over the course of about 8 years.

Phillip Bratby
January 9, 2021 7:09 am

The powers that be in the UK have been warned for many years by power engineers that closing coal-fired power stations, closing aging nuclear power stations, not building replacement power stations but subsidising intermittent, unreliable and uncontrollable wind and solar power, is a recipe for disaster in the form of regular winter blackouts. The powers that be prefer to listen to the greenblob and the propagandists at NGOs and the BBC etc. It will get worse as more power stations close and more offshore wind farms are built.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
January 9, 2021 8:03 am

But in all those years we haven’t had any winter blackouts, have we?

Ian W
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:34 am

Griff, that is like accelerating towards a wall and when people warn you that you will hit the wall saying “we haven’t hit a wall so far have we?”

And the problem is that when the unreliables are driving the grid it can be difficult or even impossible to synch the grid to restart. All you need is a blocking ‘omega’ high over the UK after a heavy snow and people will start dying from cold.

Reply to  Ian W
January 9, 2021 1:54 pm

The grid compensates for problems automatically….frequency too low and it will disconnect areas….

Reply to  JohnM
January 9, 2021 3:27 pm

And after the grid disconnects automatically, you are faced with the problem trying to restart the grid.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  JohnM
January 9, 2021 6:29 pm

Indeed it does. Last time it did that was August 9th 2019, when a lightning strike caused instabilities offshore at Hornsea wind farm, which deloaded 737MW, while Little Barford CCGT plant lost output in stages starting a few tenths of a second later (it was actually much closer to the lightning strike near Wyomndley substation) for another 640MW, and embedded wind and solar generation tripped off – on one assessment by E3C the effect was largest of all, partly because the disconnections disconnected large amounts of embedded wind and solar, adding to that tripped off by the disturbance.

Gerry, England
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 5:10 am

Unfortunately the review of the failure in 2019 is contained in two separate reports which makes it a bit more difficult to understand. But one report highlighted that the Grid do not know how much uncontrolled generation there is. By that I mean rooftop solar and local windmills. No wonder managing the Grid has gone from £200m a year to nearly £2bn.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:37 am

As the CCP practices, “softly softly catchee monkey”. Ask South Australia!

M Courtney
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 11:20 am

If you are willing to pay over £1,000 per MWhr then someone will turn on the fossil fuel generators.
But you have to pay that exorbitant cost to cover for the downtime when the wind does decide to blow.
It’s an extremely expensive way to dodge a blackout. Even at that cost the grid is issuing warnings.

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 11:35 am


where will the power for heat pumps and electric cars come from and the energy needed to replace conventional power stations that are being shut?

You do realise we are currently in energy deficit and traded energy for our fishermens livelihoods and that smart meters are there so the power companies can cut your electricity when energy is shot??


Greg K
Reply to  tonyb
January 9, 2021 4:50 pm

Build more power stations that burn CO2 free wood pellets imported from the US

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 1:05 pm

Good thing the French nuke plants have been there to back you up, right?

Reply to  Tsk Tsk
January 9, 2021 3:30 pm

interties are too complicated for griff to understand, so it just ignores them.

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 1:50 pm

GAS, griff.

Thank goodness for FOSSIL FUELS. !!

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 1:52 pm

Over HALF being supplied by CO2 producing fuels

ALL of it being supplied by infrastructure built using close to 100% fossil fuels.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 2:17 pm
Richard Page
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 3:14 pm

Yes Griff, they do happen frequently – local ones on a regular basis, but only affecting a small local area. Only one regional one that I’m aware of in the last few years luckily.

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 3:26 pm

Thanks to the French who have been covering your shortfalls.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 6:08 pm

I had a blackout that lasted 24 hours in snow about 3 years ago. So yes, we have.

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 3:00 am

Oh, here’s griff falling past the 13th floor, on being asked how he is doing…

Jim Gorman
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 6:16 am

If you believe CAGW needs to be fixed due to the Precautionary Principle, how do you justify not doing anything for the power grid under the same Principle?

Hypocrisy Reigns!

January 9, 2021 7:20 am

I don’t know if the readers here at WUWT have seen this:

‘The UK is in a deficit (of electricity) by about 7% of its annual requirements. Undersea cables linking the UK’s grid to mostly nuclear power stations in France and the Netherlands make up this deficit.’
‘the French government tied the UK’s access to bulk electric power to European Union (EU) fishing access in UK waters. Both fishing rights and electricity access will be up for renegotiation at the same time in 2026.’

It looks like the French will have the British just where they want them!

Bill Toland
Reply to  dh-mtl
January 9, 2021 8:14 am

How is Britain going to power all of the electric cars from 2030 onwards if it is already in deficit of its annual requirements?

The weather here in Glasgow has been cold and still but not unusual for this time of year. There is about an inch of global warming around my house.

Ian W
Reply to  Bill Toland
January 9, 2021 10:39 am

You are making the error of thinking that anyone in government wants people to have private cars for their own use. The manufacture and sale of ICE cars will be banned but that doesn’t mean that EVs will be available and even if they are that the power will be available to charge them.

Expect a bait and switch exercise in 9 years time. Probably along the lines of “you didn’t really need your own private vehicle did you?” Pushing everyone to use eUber instead of having their own car.

Reply to  Ian W
January 9, 2021 12:02 pm

The Great Reset is real, and it’s underway. To quote the World Economic Forum, “You won’t own anything, and you’ll be happy”.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  dh-mtl
January 9, 2021 8:32 am

Actually maybe not. President MacAroon has put France on the road to a bright green future by replacing his perfectly workable nuclears by mills. There will soon be no juice to export at all.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  dh-mtl
January 9, 2021 8:39 am

Continued supply of electricity to the UK via the interconnectors is dependent EU fishing access to UK waters. UK fishermen to be sacrificed in 2026 when deal is renegotiated.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 9, 2021 6:35 pm

I think continued supply will depend much more on whether there is capacity to provide it. With so much dispatachble coal and nuclear capacity due to be shut there will be continent wide shortages of power in conditions like the current ones with cold weather and no wind or sun to speak of. The assumption in the UK has always been that so long as we are prepared to outbid others, we will continue to be supplied. That may no longer be the case when power has to be wheeled away to make up shortages in Germany.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 5:21 am

Sounds nice, I offer you fish if you give me electricity, but it didn’t happen that way. Each sector of the agreement would be dealt with separately but the EU stance was ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. They were keen to avoid the UK desire of lots of separate agreements on different areas which makes oversight far more difficult. While it was reasonable not to want the ECJ to provide the oversight, the UK came across as shifty and untrustworthy in their reluctance to have a solid oversight mechanism. It didn’t really help having a proven liar as PM or in publishing two draft Acts of Parliament that broke international law. Odd as it may seem, they thought this would strengthen their negotiating position but then the Tories have never really understood how the negotiations worked. They spent lots of effort trying to change things and in going to EU leaders to try to undermine Michel Barnier, and had this idea that it would only ever be settled right at the end.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Gerry, England
January 10, 2021 6:12 am

It was quite clear that May and Robbins had no clue about negotiations, and indeed sought to undermine them, which they did successfully. Whilst I hold no candle for Boris over the negotiations, I do think that David Frost made the best of the hosptial pass from May and Robbins, albeit that had he been involved from the outset we would have ended up with a more sensible agreement for the benefit of both sides. It is far from ideal, but at least it can be terminated on 12 months notice should it become unduly one-sided in implementation.

Reply to  dh-mtl
January 9, 2021 11:31 am

Right now in France, people have been advised to not plug too many appliances in the morning as the system is at its limits, l do not think France can do anything for the uk even if they wanted.

Climate believer
Reply to  Gmm973
January 9, 2021 1:44 pm

Yes, a request was posted by RTE on their website, I wonder if it had any effect.

Anyway it does seem to have raised the question why is France short on power?

One part of the answer seems to be coming from an unwelcome impact of Comflu™ on the nuclear maintenance program, meaning lower overall electricity production.
The second is the closure of the Fessenheim plant which would have provided a handy 1.8 GW Friday morning when most of the country was in a January cold wave and dialing it up to eleven.

As expected by RTE, the electricity was kept flowing. I’m sure the data would be interesting to see just how close it got to voltage reductions or blackouts. At the very least I’m sure they’ve been provided with some important data points.

The weather is perfectly normal here in France at the moment.

Normandy, 3cm of ice this morning on the garden water butt.

3cm ice.jpg
Reply to  dh-mtl
January 10, 2021 3:04 am

I really don’t think so.

Electricity is France’s second biggest export, and its worth a deal more to them than fish.
Macron knows even less about electricity that Princess NutNutz.

Reply to  dh-mtl
January 10, 2021 8:36 am

Yep, the French will firmly have us by the Pollocks,

January 9, 2021 7:21 am

I’m in the UK. There’s nothing unusual about the weather and hasn’t been for as long as I’ve been alive (60 years).

If anything it’s a bit chillier than average

January 9, 2021 7:23 am

Where is Griff and his like in all this? How long before the voters in the UK will finally have enough and change course? All it takes is someone with half a bag of charisma to get the people behind him/her under times of duress.. if there exists someone like this anymore.

My gut is the pendulum always swings too far one way or the other but eventually swings back to the middle. To me this winter is a bellwether of what is to come over the next few years. The Earth is in a cooling trend and it will manifest itself likewise. Whether it makes it all the way down to “Little Ice Age” levels is hard to say, but after a couple of decades of mild weather, the younger people have yet to experience what really cold, brutal weather can be.

Losing power right in the middle of a very cold air mass can be extremely uncomfortable and in some cases deadly.

Reply to  rbabcock
January 9, 2021 7:28 am

Griff et al are about to pop up and tell us unreliables are operating at 110% capacity and have been since 2017 and there is no need for any back up

Reply to  rbabcock
January 9, 2021 7:31 am

griff is contacting troll central in order to find out what today’s talking points are.

Reply to  MarkW
January 9, 2021 8:06 am

Amazing, you take the time to slag me off when I haven’t even commented. I’m glad to see my ideas are causing you disquiet!

Mike Lowe
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:42 am

You did, 3 minutes ago. More Griff lies / confusion?

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 3:37 pm

griff still doesn’t understand that we aren’t laughing with him

Reply to  rbabcock
January 9, 2021 7:56 am

The problem with voting is having one vote every few years to stand for every single government policy, all lumped together. If people could vote on individual policies, government would be much more responsible and accountable.

Things would have to get incredibly bad for voters to concentrate on undoing all the green damage.

patrick healy
Reply to  Felix
January 9, 2021 8:19 am

Any suggestions where I can find an alternative to the Conservativelabourgreen Party?

Reply to  patrick healy
January 9, 2021 8:20 am

Heh … no 🙂 You’d need a much smaller government for voting to have any practical effect.

Reply to  Felix
January 9, 2021 12:57 pm

Well done! You have identified the source of the problem!

Now the time has come to fix our ailing Democracies.

Own the ‘The Great Reset’ by:

(1) Resetting your representation back to where they were members from your community – meeting fees and honor boards not salaried careers. (We need local business people not Law school trash making decisions on power generation.)

(2) Two year terms, limited to two consecutive. I know this is longer than most service or sporting clubs, the reality is a paid bureaucracy does most of the work, Politicians are there to occasionally tweak laws. The twits we have now just run around mouthing talking points, scared to risk their access to the trough.

(3) Paper ballots run by local communities. Messy but worked!

(4) Non-compulsory voting. Eliminates the uniformed from the process. These people will re-enter the arena when things go seriously wrong.

In general, reset to where local communities regain control what happens to them. They can measure their own temperatures, choose their own power source and manage their own health issues.
Central control has been tested and failed!

Reply to  Broadie
January 9, 2021 1:23 pm

Way off-topic by now, but here’s my libertopia plan.

Elect the top three vote winners in each district. In office, they proxy however many votes they won in their election; yes, it means messy summing up, but that’s utterly trivial nowadays.

Each voter can submit their name as a volunteer legislator. Each district chooses one at random, who proxies all the remaining votes in each district.

Each legislator proposes, withdraws, and revises their own bills. Each bill can be approved by other legislators. If a bill has 2/3 approval votes, in every chamber, after 30 days of review, it becomes law. Every revision restarts the 30 day review period.

Every bill which has 90% approval in all chambers becomes a temporary law immediately, but only so long as it maintains 90% approval in all chambers. If it falls below that threshold before the standard 30 day review turns it into a permanent law, all remaining legislators who still approve the bill are fired immediately.

Every law can be repealed if, at any time, a majority of votes in any chamber vote to repeal it.

All lesser districts, such as states in the US, and counties within states, constitute a separate repeal chamber; if a majority of these lesser legislatures vote to repeal a law.

While legislatures themselves can’t create committee structures to control proposed bills and voting, parties can as shadow structures, telling their members what to approve, what to not approve, and what to repeal. But legislatures are not bound to that except as they want to remain in the good graces of their party.

Reply to  Felix
January 9, 2021 11:37 pm

Does the California system still have some direct democracy? Didn’t (or doesn’t) it put California in deep trouble because people vote for services but against paying for them?

Reply to  rbabcock
January 9, 2021 8:05 am

I have a lot of other calls on my time: I am seldom looking at this stuff more than once every couple of days!

Unless you’d like to offer me more than my alleged communist masters to work here full time?

I think this is the coldest start to Jan we’ve had for some years…

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 1:54 pm

Then why waste your precious time (roflmao) on your WORTHLESS and IGNORANT posts here ??

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 3:45 pm

WorldofWarCraft takes up that much of your time?

January 9, 2021 7:24 am

Maybe the UK National Grid is worried about all the air-conditioning we’re using to keep us from the ravages of global warming

January 9, 2021 7:27 am

Here in the UK not so much the cold that’s been unusual, but rather how long it has lasted.This cold spell has been going on for at least 3 weeks now. Rather then the 3 to 7 days we more often get. This has been the longest cold spell since Dec 2010. The jet stream forecast suggests it should warm up alittle during the next 5 days but still remain on the cool side.

Reply to  taxed
January 9, 2021 8:06 am

yes exactly.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 1:08 pm

So you’re OK with setting yourself up to worry about 10 year events to hypothetically handle 100 year events.

Makes sense.

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 3:46 pm

So you are OK with having the grid collapse every 10 years?

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  taxed
January 9, 2021 8:34 am

But hey, last year was the warmest evah! And I guarantee that this year will be even warmer.

Ed Bo
Reply to  taxed
January 9, 2021 10:32 am

If the level of the cold is not unusual, then that is even more worrisome. Because it is the “instantaneous” level of the cold that determines the required power generating capacity, not the duration of the cold snap.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Ed Bo
January 9, 2021 6:40 pm

But the duration does determine the storage you need. That is going to become an ever more important factor.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 3:06 am

No, it wont be, because more than a days storage will never happen.,

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 6:17 am

We have about a week’s storage in gas, should all our supply be cut off. But if they convert that to hydrogen, it would drop to a couple of days.

It was interesting to see them forced to draw down Dinorwig until they reached the minimum storage for black start, forcing them to stop generation – the main cause of the £4,000/MWh price spike.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  taxed
January 9, 2021 10:48 am

So British residents will only freeze to death every 10 years? That’s a consolation! And soon there will be all those electric car batteries to recharge! Are Boris’s mathematical calculation abilities so incompetent? Hasn’t he heard that the Covid virus loves cold weather?

Reply to  taxed
January 9, 2021 12:27 pm

Just checked out the latest jet stream forecast and its suggesting that the UK could be in for a proper “Arctic blast” spell of weather bedding in around the 18th Jan. lts looking like there could be a “Greenland Block” setting up and with lower pressure sitting over eastern europe. The end result will likely be some bitterly cold Arctic air been driven down across the UK. Causing snowfall down across the northern and eastern sides of the UK. One to watch to see how this plays out.

January 9, 2021 7:56 am

….“greened” themselves to teetering on the brink of collapse, such as California….” I think this is a myth. Although CA is trying hard to enter the sphere of unreliable electricity it hasn’t happened yet that I’m aware of. Several decades ago CA went through brown and black out periods due to mismanagement of the grids caused by attempts to corner and inflate the energy market. Remember Enron? The recent blackouts were a direct result of the providers not wanting to be sued for fire damages caused by downed power lines during wind charged fire season. But give them time and they will surely reach the unreliable stage as they continue to shut down nuclear facilities.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  markl
January 9, 2021 8:16 am

California’s power issues won’t reach a truly critical situation until the late 2020’s after Diablo Canyon has been closed for several years and after coal plant closures in other states throughout the decade keep the Western Interconnect from supplying enough power to make up California’s own shortfall.

Old Retired Guy
Reply to  markl
January 9, 2021 8:34 am

Back in 2016 Forbes reported a third of California’s electricity came from out of state sources, up from 25% 6 years prior. And its rates were already 45% higher.

Ed Bo
Reply to  markl
January 9, 2021 10:01 am

markl – The August rolling blackouts in California were due to shutting down fire-prone transmission lines in high-wind conditions, as you say.

But the October rolling blackouts were due to sheer lack of generating capacity in one of our typical early Autumn heatwaves.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Ed Bo
January 9, 2021 11:02 am

In comparison with the energy cornucopia we enjoy today, America and most other western countries are destined to become energy poor nations in relative terms. The process of the transition is now all but unstoppable.

Over the next fifteen to twenty years, Californians and most all other Americans wherever they live must learn how to get by with roughly half as much energy as they consume today.

If consuming half as much energy requires keeping the inside temperature of a house or a business at 90 F in the hottest part of the summer, and at no more than 60 F in the coldest part of the winter, then that’s what it requires.

If it requires having only one third as many vehicles of all types traveling on our roadways in 2040 as are traveling on those roads today, and one quarter as many airliners flying, then that’s what it requires.

January 9, 2021 8:02 am

Yes, this is mildly unusual… but tell me the US doesn’t issue warnings on its fossil fuel grids from time to time – and bear in mind this isn’t an actual shortage, but to ensure it stays within ‘the amount it would like to be available’.

the UK grid is increasingly renewable and not likely to collapse as a result. Is it?

Steve Keohane
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:15 am

Never heard of one in the past 70 years….

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:24 am

“Yes, this is mildly unusual… but tell me the US doesn’t issue warnings on its fossil fuel grids from time to time”

I don’t know of any, outside of California.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 10, 2021 3:12 am

They are not normally newsworthy.

I have spent 10 years trying to raise awareness of the facts about UK energy production. Its beginning to become talked about – as this column shows.

More and more people are starting to question government policy, but the green blob sail on regardless.We will have an event where large sections of the country will black out, people will die, and the politicians will ask ‘why?’ and if the grid has any intergity they will say ‘because renewable energy’ and we will really start to build out nuclear power.

Ed Bo
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:25 am

griff — If you are driving fast straight toward a brick wall, wouldn’t you take action before you hit it?

These are the warning signs that a brick wall is ahead for the grid. They should be heeded. Places like California and South Australia have had many warnings like this, and a few blackouts. The warnings are as bad as the blackouts, but in these situations, the grid operators have to pay ridiculous amounts for the incremental power to keep the grid up.

California has been shutting down natural gas generation that could have prevent the recent warnings and blackouts. After the recent blackouts, officials decided (for some strange reason) to delay previously scheduled closures of additional gas plants. I wonder why?

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:45 am

The only areas where there is a possibility of warnings are the areas with higher “renewable” energy supply like California and increasingly NY.. certainly not where I live in the SE US and most everywhere else. I live about 40km from a nuclear plant with quite a few NG plants not far away. We do have a lot of solar and it is fairly sunny here during the winter, but the solar isn’t driving the train, so to speak. The nuke runs 24x7x365 and as far as I can tell, emits no CO2.

The UK grid isn’t going to collapse but there are distinct possibilities it will fail just when you need it most. High energy demand happens during extreme heat or cold events. Good luck the rest of the winter.. you are going to need it.

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 10:56 am

No, it’s increasingly unreliable and more likely to collapse as a result.

Rich Davis
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 11:20 am

Aha, so troll central’s party line is “nothing to see here, nobody has even frozen solid in his bed yet “

And when the inevitable deaths from exposure occur after the grid fails as we are predicting, I suppose that the party line will be that a warmer Arctic has reduced the winds and allowed polar air to escape south—global warming is worse than we thought. Or the failure was due to gas power plants not operating at 300% rated capacity as ordered by the government. Or maybe the exposure deaths are normal, nothing can be done about it. They were much worse in the 1600s.

Reply to  Rich Davis
January 9, 2021 3:57 pm

More likely they will blame the power plant operators for failing to protect the grid and send many of them to jail.

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 11:38 am


Not even on cold still winter nights when weather renewables arent working? How does that work?

Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 1:56 pm

Held together by its RELIANCE on GAS.

CO2 emitting fuels well over half

Energy from infrastructure created using fossil fuels.. 100%

Last edited 6 months ago by fred250
Reply to  griff
January 9, 2021 3:55 pm

Properly operated grids have sufficient reserve that they can handle even once in a century weather events.
I for one have never heard our local utility give such a warning

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 3:04 am

“the UK grid is increasingly renewable”

And hence, increasingly UNRELIABLE..

At the moment they still have JUST ENOUGH GAS and nuclear and interconnects to manage on the many occasions that wind and solar FAIL to supply…

…. at a cost.

It may not be that case for too much longer

Last edited 6 months ago by fred250
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 3:08 am

The UK grid is increasingly renewable and is teetering on the edge of total collapse because of it.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 6:21 am

We reached the point when the probability of a blackout got as high as 12.6%. That’s dangerously high. Think of it like this: if we had eight similar occurrences you would expect at least one of them to result in a blackout. We’ve already had four Electricity Margin Notices this winter, and more are expected.

January 9, 2021 8:09 am

Eliminating fossil fuel to keep from freezing is so same old same old. Banning fire is where the action is headed

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Brad
January 10, 2021 4:09 am

Nuclear is so last century. It’s high time we quit.
Coal is so last millennium. It’s high time we quit.
Fire is so last megaannum…

January 9, 2021 8:17 am

UK energy supply heading for greenest year on record, says National Grid

They can be a perfect 100% “green” if they shut everything down, stop heating homes & cooking food, halt manufacturing & finally banish burning anything.

Last edited 6 months ago by beng135
John Peter
January 9, 2021 8:36 am

Paul Homewood with his Website is worth following as he is a keen observer.
Here is one with second thoughts by a couple of the persons involved in instigating the Climate Change Act here in UK.
Not that it will make a difference until the jobs go and the lights go out as well.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  John Peter
January 10, 2021 7:03 am

Good article. At least it recognizes that governments have a horrible record in picking winners in the economy. In the past, most revolutionary products have won by increasing productivity of existing employees. The cotton gin, steam engines, automobiles, assembly line, transistors among many innovations succeeded in the market place on their own ability. Not so the current green revolution. The government has picked a winner and be damned the price or reduction in productivity.

You want an example of the Precautionary Principle? Politicians should think twice about what their environmental friends and crony capital friends are urging them to do. The are moving down a road without considering all the unknown dangers they have not considered or even know about. Just like on a nasty road, whole societies could spin out of control and the end result will not be pretty.

Ben Vorlich
January 9, 2021 8:45 am

In Derby East Midlands of England it’s been a fairly typical winter, a bit colder that the last few years. Some rain, some freezing fog, overcast days. The typical high pressure weather I remember from earlier years of clear sunny days where temperatures in the shade remained below freezing and cold nights, double figures below zero have been missing, probably a good thing. Not had more than a couple of light dustings of snow.

Dennis G Field
January 9, 2021 8:52 am

Wind and Solar haven’t been putting out schist…

Reply to  Dennis G Field
January 10, 2021 9:52 am

This is the other site –

I’m south of London, close by the A23, Brighton Road, and inside the M25 Orbital Carpark Motorway.
We had freezing fog overnight last night [9th-10th].
Some extraordinarily pretty sights on trees and hedges.
Some weak Sun this afternoon.
But temperature-wise, nothing exceptional.
It’s January.
It gets cold, sometimes.
We had a flurry or three of snow a couple of days ago, but it melted fairly quickly.
Warmer weather coming tomorrow, I gather. Perhaps some rain late tomorrow.
Usual winter high, with little wind [and of course precious little sunlight].
Unreliables don’t cut it here – even before the Blond Buffoon gets us all in golf-buggies, sending demand shooting up. Even if supply won’t match it without Gas and Nukes.
But I expect to be dead before this comes to pass.

Cheers – and be safe,

robin townsend
January 9, 2021 9:07 am

weather normal – cold and dry. has been very wet. forecast mixed, Its Jan – anything can happen. Gridwatch shows coal power back on, max daily request at the time of the alert in the article was 47 – spot on the same as last year. No great drama to see here in the short term, and dont beleive the IC bs. Long term – oh yes, the govt is promising us no travel (electric cars but no new nuclear) and dead pensioners (fuel poverty) – kind of like long term covid. Hopefully people will wake up before its too late.
Edit – sorry, South england, middle, 12 miles from coast.

Last edited 6 months ago by robin townsend
January 9, 2021 9:18 am

The following website is a handy source of “official” information on UK electricity supply for those interested. It’s called the Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service (BMRS):

If you go to the “Transmission” tab, you will see the link to access the latest system warnings. At the time of writing this comment, the system warning mentioned in the main post above (and end of the warning) are still visible.

Another interesting link under “Transmission” tab is the labelled “Loss of load probability (LOLP) and derated margin”. When this opens, it will show you the latest LOLP and margin forecasts.

You can use the “historic” tab to access past LOLP and margin forecasts. Go into this tab and select the date 2021-01-08 and go down to the row where SP is 36 (this is half hour beginning 18:00 on 8th January 2021). LOLP was 0.126, and system margin was 885MW. That was a close shave. One or two big units coming offline could have pushed the UK into rota disconnections over the evening peal. That would have been popular with the voters!

Because there was a system warning, all of the generating capacity would have been operating at full tilt, and it is likely that all demand side response would have been utilised.

If the same thing happens next year, the UK could be in a pickle. The Hunterston nuclear power station (nearly 1 GW) is due to close, and there is talk of another couple of GW of coal-fired capacity closing soon. Watch out for announcements of coal fired power units being kept alive in the “strategic balancing reserve”.

Steve Case
January 9, 2021 9:23 am

Wind “Turbines” like the ones in the illustration above produce an advertised 2.5 – 3.0 MW
A short search finds Caterpillar 2750 KW (2.7 MW) diesel generators for about $500,000

What I really don’t know is the actual installed cost of a 2.7 MW Wind “Turbine” [$____] fill in the blank. After all the subsidies, tax breaks and bullshit $1 million $2 million or more, I’ve never gotten a good answer.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Steve Case
January 9, 2021 6:49 pm

Maybe this will help:

It is based on analysing wind farm company accounts

Steve Case
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 9, 2021 11:01 pm

Thanks for the link, Using figure 1, it looks like an on shore 3 MW Wind “Turbine” is close to $6 Million in actual cost. Double that for off shore.

Reply to  Steve Case
January 10, 2021 3:20 am

Treble. IIRC the ones in the North sea were about £4bn/GW nameplate
With a capacity factor of 40% at best and a lifetime of 20 years, that’s around £500m per MW/year

Contrast Hinkley point at £20bn for 60 years life and 3.2GW, at 80% capacity factor that £160m per MW/yr . And that power station was supposed to cost less than half that.

Steve Case
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 4:33 pm

IIRC = If I Remember Correctly. It’s a real pain to have to look up all the acronyms that people use because they think it makes them look smart. It doesn’t. But thanks for the reply.

January 9, 2021 9:27 am

No the weather has not been unusual

London area

Peta of Newark
January 9, 2021 10:00 am

Mid Nottinghamshire. Very rural
The local peasant reckoned, and I’d agree, that this autumn was extremely gloomy. No sun
Didn’t rain a lot but there was no ‘drying’
A lot like Cumbria as I was always used to, constant damp.

In my garden temp-wise
Oct ’20 was 1.1 C warmer than Oct ’19
Nov ’20 was 2.5 C warmer than Nov ’19
Dec ’20 was 0.5 C cooler than Dec ’19

So far in January
First week Jan ’21 was 6.6 C cooler than Jan ’20

Did have a blackout here, but caused by the birds dancing on the wires.
Dancing is good for you, can’t begrudge them that.

Can begrudge our haha leaders tho

Not very many years ago, UK consumption nudged 60GW and No Problemo
Now it barely passes 40G and see what we have. sigh

I can see a coupla coal burners from here. West Burton chugging away (I think) and also the one that recently closed for good. It was a goody as well 🙁

Re the French Inter-connector.
Weren’t we reading here that it was ‘A Nice Little Earner’ for the UK – that Les Froggies voule-vood our (renewable) elektrikery more than we wanted their nukes

But Brexit reveals that not only have we given that away, but also our fisheries – in return for French nuclear grunt!!
Words fail (Not completely, more like unprintable)
None of this makes sense

January 9, 2021 10:29 am

My memory is a little foggy on this: was it Henry II who forbade the peasants to cut wood to heat their hovels? Just askin’, because it was kind of chilly back then, wasn’t it?

So if the current set of peasants can’t use wood or coal or whatever to heat their homes and cook, how does Boris the Blatherskite expect them to survive what appears to be a cold and snowy winter in Europe?

The logic escapes me completely.

Reply to  Sara
January 9, 2021 10:30 am

Ooops! Meant to include UK in that Europe question. My bad.

Reply to  Sara
January 9, 2021 11:28 am

Well, in Henry II’s defense – it was the Medieval Warm Period then.

Reply to  gringojay
January 9, 2021 3:48 pm

Yeah, but he was more interested in having wood for his own needs and keeping the peasants cold and hungry by not letting them hunt for game or cut down any of HIS trees. They had to make do on what they could scrounge and catch without a todo, and on what they could find in the way of “fallen” wood, e.g., deadfalls and broken branches. Even then, they could be punished for it if they were caught at it.

January 9, 2021 11:12 am

Baby, it’s cold inside.

January 9, 2021 11:25 am

There will be more snow in the British Isles. Stay warm.
The ozone blockage over the Bering Strait bursts a polar vortex in the lower stratosphere.comment imagecomment image

Reply to  ren
January 9, 2021 12:35 pm

Yes ren
lts looking like there could be a “Arctic Blast” spell of weather hitting the UK around 17th to 20th Jan.One to watch to see how it plays out.

Reply to  taxed
January 9, 2021 1:02 pm
Reply to  ren
January 9, 2021 1:36 pm

With this weather front the snow will be largely confined to the northern hills. As the warm air from the mid Atlantic will be blocked from going up into the Arctic and will then be forced to flow over the UK instead. For really cold “Arctic blast” weather here in the UK we need a Greenland block setting up. The current jet stream forecast is suggesting that this could happen between the 17th to 20th of Jan.

Paul C
January 9, 2021 12:34 pm

England, North East coast, cold, but not exceptional. Fairly windy now, but was calm earlier. Sunny earlier today after cloud and rain the last few days, but not bright enough to melt the ice. Will it be rolling blackouts, or will it be some of the hidden features on smart meters being activated?

Reply to  Paul C
January 9, 2021 1:49 pm

Shropshire has been colder than the last few years, hardly above freezing for the past two weeks. We had -6 two days ago until mid morning and it did not go above -2. Little wind and not a lot of sun. Freezing fog for several mornings.

Julian Flood
January 9, 2021 12:44 pm

To watch UK power supplies Google Gridwatch Templar.


January 9, 2021 12:46 pm

‘Heartbreak’ of near perfect ski conditions and empty lockdown slopes in Scotland

Alasdair Fairbairn
January 9, 2021 1:04 pm

Do we have Winter U.K. Met.figures for 1947 and 62/3? Seems to me that these are black swans waiting in the wings.
I recall driving from Liverpool to Southampton in late March 1963 with snow piled 10 ft high by the side of much of the roads.

donald penman
Reply to  Alasdair Fairbairn
January 9, 2021 1:35 pm

I remember doing that during the recent beast from the East and in the December to remember the farmers were putting snow ploughs on their tractors to keep the back roads of Lincolnshire clear not sure how I ended up in front of them.

donald penman
January 9, 2021 1:22 pm

The SST of doom. Frost has stayed on the ground all day in Lincolnshire at around freezing because of weak sun.

Patrick MJD
January 9, 2021 4:37 pm

I remember the cold winters of the 60’s and 70’s in the UK, the 70’s we were also hit with power worker strikes so we had to resort to paraffin heaters and lanterns, fortunately then we had an open fire with a water heater in the back so we were mostly OK for hot water and our fridge was gas powered.

How times have changed where the Govn’t wants everyone to be powered by electricity and smart meters. Only one reason for that.

Patrick MJD
January 9, 2021 4:49 pm

I was going to say Griff will be along soon claiming how renewables are so wonderful but I see he is here spouting the usual rubbish.

It doesn't add up...
January 9, 2021 7:18 pm

The 8th produced some interesting behaviour. Gas demand totaled about 4.4TWh in the UK, with 0.92TWh going to fire CCGT and OCGT plants. Wind generation dipped below 1.2GW at one point, 5% of its capacity. Available generation was maxed out, with coal contributing 3GW much of the day, and CCGT around 23GW likewise. Imports were running as high as 900MW from Ireland, on top of 2GW from France and 1GW from Belgium, pretty much the maximum possible level of import. By mid afternoon, pumped storage started to ramp up over 1GW, reaching almost 2GW later during the demand peak. However, Ireland had to back off the exports to meet its own demand peak, which saw system prices rise to £2,750/MWh. Then two things happened almost simultaneously: Ireland stopped exporting entirely, and the storage at Dinorwig ran down to its minimum acceptable level (it has to retain sufficient in store for black start capability, but can store a total of 9.1GWh and generate at up to 1.7GW), so it had to stop generating. The result was a shortage at an unexpected time, and the system price was £4,000/MWh for the whole hour between 7 and 8 p.m., with considerable use of STOR diesel generators.

Running out of pumped storage was perhaps the most important message of the day.

January 9, 2021 8:35 pm

No-one commented on the Stokes redefinition in the artcile .. “electricity system tightness”

In previous times we called it supply shortage but in the green new world you can’t use bad terms like “shortage”

January 10, 2021 2:29 am

Summary of the real as opposed to fake imaginary situation

Great Britain draws its power from a number of sources. Coal, nuclear, gas combined cycle plant, open cycle gas turbines, wood burning converted coal plant, a little hydro, some pumped hydro, three inter-connectors to mainland Europe and of course the renewable wind and solar power.

A summary and full historic data exists on my Gridwatch website.

In addition there is one tiny tidal power station a few CHP waste burning generators and a couple of batteries that contribute a few MW each….

The nuclear plant is due to close in a few years apart from Sizewell B.
All the coal plant is due to close and will not be replaced.
The government has committed to zero fossil by 2050 or whatever.Which presumably means the end of gas. Which is far and away the largest contributor to the UK grid.

How this plays out in the next decade will be in Britain a far more serious issue than Brexit, climate change and COVID19 combined. We are looking at the collapse of modern society, potentially, as the political targets cannot be met without a drastic and lethal drop in living standards.

What has happened recently, and I would have posted on it, but my posts are never published so I didn’t waste my time, is that several things have again come together to produce a mini crisis.

  1. It’s cold. Not stupendously Canadian style cold, but for Britain, it’s cold. Normally we expect between -3°C and +7°C at this time of year. Its been 5°C or more colder than that.
  2. We have an area of high pressure over us. So there is very little wind – or was two days ago.
  3. We therefore had freezing fog and generally overcast skies.
  4. The inter-connector to the Netherlands has gone down and will stay down till they dredge and fix the cable.

Those are the contributory factors. Without wind and solar power Britain did not really have enough capacity, especially with the loss of the Dutch inter-connector, and so system warnings were issued. These are requests – and in some cases directives – for non-essential load to get off the system, Some big users have special contracts for cheaper electricity if they will respond to these load shedding requests. The requests are also indicative of a call for anything that can be added to the grid to be added, until there is sufficient supply to meet demand, As this happens the spot price of electricity rises.

Coal and hydro responded by running as high as I have seen then in the last few years. Coal is limited in annual running hours, so a high wholesale price suits them fine. Reservoirs run out of water, so they made the best of recent rains.

The system price of electricity is normally between £40 and £90/MWh

For one period the system price rose to £1500/MWh and at the same time on the following day it was £4000/MWh a one hundred times increase in cost to the consumer.

Data for that, courtesy of BM reports. I don’t record those prices on my website. Perhaps I should.

Disaster was narrowly averted, but at a high cost. It can only get worse. There is more wind today and it’s less cold. And its Sunday. But the coal powers stations are staying on for now.

I have noticed some rubbish disinformation posted in the comments about grid frequency stability.
Here is a better explanation

The British and continental grids run at 50Hz, maintained to a very tight specification. They are separate however. The undersea inter-connectors run on DC, for reasons of efficiency of transmission. But the important thing to note is that these grids are all completely phase locked, It is simply not possible for a generator to ‘be on a different frequency’. It is not even really possible for them to be out of phase. Slight variations in phase are simply indicative of how much power the generators are putting on, or indeed drawing off, the grid. So that if for example a steam turbine fails, the generator wont stop, it will simply drop its phase back a little and become a motor running off the grid rather than a generator on it. Until it is disconnected.

Reconnecting a generator consists in running it up to frequency and then very very carefully watching the phase difference between the generator and the grid and when they are zero, throwing the switches and connecting it to the grid.

Frequency is important for two fundamental reasons. The first is that a lot of industrial machinery uses synchronous motors. And needs them to run an predictable speeds.The European grid has relaxed its specifications so that in many cases e.g. German factories have had to install inverter converters to regenerate the correct mains frequency for their equipment, at huge expense. In periods of high instability is is possible to isolate certain parts of the grid and let one part get out of frequency with respect to the other. But this is not normal working practice.

Additionally due to time delays there is a practical limit to how big a grid can be geographically. The USA pushes that boundary being split IIRC into 3 grids – east, west and central.

The second reason why frequency is important is that it is a proxy for load imbalance. As load goes up, the generators all slow down, and thereby reduce the voltage on the grid. That lowering of voltage and frequency lowers the speed of synchronous motors, lowers the power drawn by resistive loads like incandescent lights, and lowers the speed of any universal style motors that may be on the grid. Which is a signal to open the steam valves and manage the power and frequency up again. Severe imbalance in frequency is a sign they can’t actually manage to do that, and a signal to start load shedding or bring on emergency power.

What a lowering of voltage and frequency does not do, however , is lower the power drawn by electronic equipment, including some lighting, nearly all computers and anything else connected via an SMPS (switched mode power supply) like e.g. an electric car charger…unless it has that built in to its electronics.

Another beneficial effect of using phase locked generators that has been mentioned here before, is that the combined spinning mass of all these armatures represents a small amount of stored kinetic energy, so that when for example, a line short happens or a power station trips, the frequency does not immediately drop drastically – instead it slows down as the kinetic energy feeds the grid until balance is restored.

So far I have described a grid without intermittent renewables, or DC inter-connectors. Hydro power and wood burning plant is ‘conventional’, in that it behaves in a similar way to steam turbines coupled to rotating generators, but DC inter connectors, solar panels and windmills behave very differently, and this introduces yet another complication to the ‘all renewable’ scenario dreamed up by the politicians. Wind and sun represent no storage whatsoever beyond perhaps a few milliseconds. They cannot generate more than they already are, in nearly all cases, and whilst capacitance of a high voltage undersea cable is quite large, it is not nearly large enough to store even a few MW seconds, so all these forms of generator have no rotational inertia at all, They are all utilising inverters that detect the grid frequency and match their output to it frequency and voltage wise electronically, And if the frequency is not what they expect it to be, they disconnect themselves.

Thus they are not only useless at supplying extra power during short term overloads, they may in fact compound the problem by removing themselves from a grid they no longer recognise as a stable sink for power.

In fact the addition of Tesla style batteries is – unbeknownst to the public – actually more about providing a short term proxy for rotational inertia than it is about the long term storage of ‘renewable energy’.

If the Spanish grid showed severe overload it might well have been policy to split it, so that the most highly overloaded region could in fact drift downwards in frequency as a unit, leaving the test of the West European grid intact. I haven’t investigated. But what it would not have done is had generators out of frequency and phase-lock on it. Not for longer than the time it takes to destroy a 600MW generator and most of the building it sits in.

Last edited 6 months ago by Leo Smith
In The Real World
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 5:46 am

One very important fact omitted from your low frequency explanation , is that the RMS voltage [ effective working voltage for AC ] goes down as a square of frequency drop .
So , not only will low frequency start to destroy most electronic equipment , it can also increase current consumption on some resistive items .
Which is why the RoCoF controls shut down after only a few seconds of frequency drop , & before electric motors & transformers start burning out .

Last edited 6 months ago by In The Real World
Questing Vole
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 6:38 am

I confess to a shameful hope that there will be at least brown-outs in UK this winter as that may be the only way to alert Joe Public to the fact that Green may be Good, but it is no substitute for reliable, affordable power from tax-guzzling generators that don’t depend on whether the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.
Gas (which has been the BIG beneficiary of closing down coal-fired capacity) fits the bill, providing that there are adequate supplies. Nuclear should be a good base, but closures of time-expired plant are cutting supplies while cost and time overruns mean that contracted new plant are nowhere near ready to replace them and there has to be a big question mark over whether more major projects are affordable or desirable. Biomass doesn’t have a big share of the market, but it has been running flat out during the recent cold spell (it’s down a bit today, perhaps for maintenance).
The little remaining coal-fired capacity has also been running hard lately, but unless the Government wakes up to the risks of trying to keep the lights on without it, it is all due to close in the next couple of years. It is also subject to constraints on running hours, although I think they can be overruled to ensure security of supply. Fortunately, some generators ran the figures and decided to keep their plant running as long as they could up to the industry expiry date, counting on income from operating for the few weeks allowed and hoping for some extra from extreme weather permits. As I recall, some of the details hinged on EU carbon reduction/energy legislation, but I don’t know whether the Government has more flexibility post-Brexit.
On wider coal problems, last week’s press featured stories from UK ‘heritage railways’, most of which run steam locomotives, worried that they will be wholly reliant on (poorer quality) imported coal within two years. There is only one remaining significant mine in UK – Ffos y fran, in South Wales. This has been extracting coal as part of a major surface restoration project (the site had been worked from the surface for several centuries, leaving an unknown number of unrecorded pits and shafts, plus related spoil and any amount of unlicensed dumps of asbestos, chemicals, etc.). Permission was sought to work and restore an adjacent area in a similarly unsafe condition but without success, and applications for mines in other parts of the country have also been refused in the face of NunNut lobby hysteria. Which is one more reason why I can’t help thinking that a brown-out or two might concentrate minds wonderfully in Whitehall and in the media.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 8:11 am

Leo –>

grids are all completely phase locked, It is simply not possible for a generator to ‘be on a different frequency’.” Did you not read the article that Ron Clutz posted?

Individual fossil fuel generators are not “phase locked” to each other through any kind of circuitry other than the grid and the power needed.

You contradicted yourself within two sentences.

 It is not even really possible for them to be out of phase. Slight variations in phase are simply indicative of how much power the generators are putting on, or indeed drawing off, the grid. So that if for example a steam turbine fails, the generator wont stop, it will simply drop its phase back a little and become a motor running off the grid rather than a generator on it. Until it is disconnected.”

Why do you think “a motor running off the grid” is not a bad thing? This means that it has become an extra load for other generators to supply when the grid has probably already exceeded its reserve.

From the above article: “It should now be clear how central a role that synchronously connected angular momentum plays in power system stability. It is the factor that determines how much time generator governors and automatic load shedding systems have to respond to the power flow variation and bring correction.”

This is not a phase locked system where all the components operate in unison from a single control point. It is a system where individual components act individually based upon a common parameter.

January 10, 2021 3:19 am

Thought I’d have a look how the German electricity grid is coping.

Here is the supply/demand for Jan 7,8,9

Notice the size of the grey CONVENTIONAL supply Solar nd wind are TINY amounts at the bottom

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And just so there is no confusion as to what “conventional” means

….. here is the graph for that supply.

Some Nuclear along the bottom, but mostly COAL and GAS.

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Rob Slightam
January 10, 2021 4:22 am

We had 3Gw of coal power production at times last week when wind production dropped due to areas of high pressure covering the country

January 10, 2021 5:44 am

Can’t you Poms find some more oil to sell to fund the rollout of EVs in order to change the climate like Norway?
Norway’s electric car drive belies national reliance on fossil fuels (
On second thoughts if they’re making things a bit chilly just grab their oil and use it in your generators and furnaces and get the best of both worlds. You still rule the waves over there don’t you or have you reverted back to sail already?

January 10, 2021 8:10 am

NorthWest England, Lancaster 3 or so miles from the coast. We had a 4 hour power cut on Dec 19th and since have had several nights of -4C with most days only managing +2C if that. Today we actually have a thaw. The Lancaster canal has been frozen for days. Not as cold as the 2010 winter when the river froze. That year I saw a swan that had slept with its tail in the water. Very difficult to walk round on the ice with several Kg of ice attached to your tail.

January 10, 2021 8:15 am

For all overseas readers, here’s a link to the British Met Office – rainfall and temperature records for every month going back over 100 years:

Look at all the data – where’s the dangerous change in the weather?

I’m 72 years old, and I’ve lived here in England for all of those years. Have our weather patterns changed in any way that’s out of the ordinary? No. Hot summers, cool summers, warmer winters, cold winters, rainy summers, dry summers, and so on.
Yet our government believes all the scary stories – gas boiler sales to be stopped, the sale of cars with internal combustion engines to be banned, and heavy reliance on wind and solar power planned.
All this concerns me far more than all the climate change junk we’re endlessly bombarded with.
In this country as in any, if energy supplies and heating aren’t secure in winter, we’re in big trouble – that’s the real danger – our gullible politicians, certain climate ‘experts’ and the green brigade – not climate change.

michael hart
Reply to  Carbon500
January 10, 2021 3:01 pm

Agreed. There is certainly nothing exceptional about current weather.
As to what is going to happen, I freely admit to not knowing, just like everyone else.

But there certainly are a bunch of people making new laws/restrictions, and promulgating new laws/restrictions which will have adverse consequences for the majority of the population. People who cannot afford to shrug-off increases in the cost of heating, cost of transport, and, errr, everything else which depends on the cost of energy. For the uninitiated, that last category includes everything.

For many years now, and for many people in London, the cost and inconvenience of personal transport by car has meant that you simply just don’t/can’t. The UK government now intends to legally formalize this for most people in the country. New internal combustion engine vehicles banned from 2030. They don’t actually know what consequences this will have for non-wealthy people, and they don’t care either.

Reply to  michael hart
January 11, 2021 7:07 am

Michael: we mustn’t forget the diesel car fiasco either – once such engines were deemed by the British government to be the saviours of the planet, so ‘eco‘, but now condemned – after so many people spent a lot of their hard-earned money buying them!

Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 8:54 am

NO wind? Then the wind turbines need some “Londonderry Air”:

“Oh Danny Boy, the turbines they are stalling,
The wind has dropped, the breezes they have died,
The lights are dim, the voltage it is falling,
It’s getting dark, and also cold outside.
But why rely on fickle windy weather,
Or solar power, ‘neath Britain’s cloudy sky?
When nuclear power is really so much better,
A constant source the weather can’t deny.

From house to house, the candles have been lighted
It’s getting dark, but people need to see. 
From hill to hill, the skyline has been blighted,
By turbines built with generous subsidy.
And bio-fools are planted in the meadows,
And coppiced woods now occupy the fields,
And farm machines have grubbed up all the hedgerows,
To maximise the disappointing yields.

To satisfy our carbon obligations,
We shall adorn the windswept British shore,
With offshore wind and wave-power installations,
And tidal schemes with barrages galore.
Despite the cost of offshore generation,
Compared with what it really truly saves,
For we can say to each and every nation,
“Once more at last, Britannia rules the waves”.

But Danny boy, the bills, the bills, are rising,
Despite the claims that Sun and wind are free,
And furthermore, demand for constant lighting,
Is met with flickering intermittency.
So “carbon free” means nuclear generation,
To light our homes, our factories, and our schools,
And as they watch with scornful realisation,
The nations cry, “Britannia waives the rules!” “


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