Grid Capacity Issues Threaten Net Zero


By Paul Homewood

A Tory mayor has urged ministers to get a grip of nationwide electricity grid problems that threaten to torpedo a £300m waste-to-power plant.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen warned that capacity problems across swathes of the country were putting at risk the Government’s plans to improve Britain’s energy security and cut carbon emissions.

His intervention comes as the issue threatens the viability of the proposed Tees Valley Energy Recovery Facility, a massive incinerator which will generate power by burning household waste from across the North East.

The project, backed by a group of seven councils, had been scheduled to come online in 2026.

But the scheme has been thrown into doubt after the National Grid said it cannot connect the facility to the electricity network until 2031 at the earliest, when capacity upgrades will be finished.

It is just one among hundreds of projects across the UK – including a large number of renewable energy schemes – that are stuck in a growing queue due to widespread grid connection delays.

As the problem grows, ministers are being separately warned that rising costs are imperilling proposals for a £10bn wind farm scheme, and face complaints that Britain is falling behind international competitors in developing cutting-edge nuclear plants.

Mr Houchen warned that a failure to grasp red tape issues strangling the energy industry would ultimately translate into higher bills for households.

He said: “It is going to be difficult to deliver energy security – which in the medium to long term could mean lower energy prices – unless the Government gets to grips with the regulation of how the grid operates and the capacity of the grid full-stop.

“That has not just a knock-on impact for our economic prosperity, but also the Government’s targets to reach net zero by 2050.

“If you want everybody to have an electric car, at the moment the grid can’t support that. None of our energy security goals, or the net zero goals, can be achieved unless this problem with the grid is tackled.”

The lead council behind the Tees Valley incinerator scheme last week confirmed that without an agreement to export electricity – to the grid or a private buyer – the project would be unviable.

Denise McGuckin, managing director of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “The Tees Valley Energy Recovery Facility project is a vital piece of infrastructure for the North-East, which more than one and a half million people living and working across the region will rely on every day to safely and sustainably treat their general rubbish, but it will only come to fruition with a viable energy offtake.”

Ben Houchen forgot to tell us how many billions this would cost the country, and who would pay for it! (An awful lot, and electricity users).

But his comments identify a fundamental flaw in the chase for renewable energy. Schemes like Teeside’s should be made to pay for all of the extra network connections and upgrades needed. How many would be viable if that were the case?

Successive governments have simply ignored the massive cost of increasing the capacity of the grid, both at a national and local distribution level, which their policies will require. Kick the can down the road and let someone else have the problem, seems to be the motto.

Meanwhile the article goes on to report about the rising costs of offshore wind power:

Sweden’s Vattenfall plans to build the giant Vanguard and Boreas wind farms off the Norfolk coast, which would be two of the biggest so far in Britain. Analysts expect they will cost more than £10bn.

But project director Rob Anderson said surging costs are damaging the investment case and warned that the price wind developers are set to be paid for electricity under government-backed contracts might not be enough.

He said: “While we’re ready to press the button, these challenges are making it difficult.”

Vattenfall has yet to take a final decision on either project, meaning it is not yet certain to go ahead, with Mr Anderson’s comments likely to set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall.

It is already evident that the low prices agreed under CfDs for wind farms not yet built are simply not viable. Now it would appear that the rising costs of materials and interest rates are making matters worse.

This increases the likelihood that new wind farms coming on stream in the next few years will simply opt out of their CfDs. Worse still, projects like Vattenfall’s may never even get off the ground, unless the government offers a much higher price.

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Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 2:21 am

If the National Grid is already having capacity problems, how on Earth will it meet the extra demand if everybody has an electric car and a heat pump? To meet the net zero target, Britain will have to quadruple electricity use. I just cannot see this happening.

Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 2:23 am

It’s — SHOCKING all this ‘lectricity….sarc/.

Last edited 3 months ago by SteveG
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 5:06 am

What EV problem? You will own nothing and love it!

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  jphilde
February 28, 2023 6:11 pm

what’s that?

Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 5:06 am

History has a habit of repeating its lesson
comment image

Reply to  vuk
February 28, 2023 9:23 am

Are those tulips? It’d be a shame if something happened to them.
(A public advisory announcement from your government.)

Reply to  Brad-DXT
February 28, 2023 9:53 am

Tulips of Amsterdam circa 1630s

Richard Greene
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 7:05 am

Great Britain to change name
to Not So Great Britain.

The Real Engineer
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 8:08 am

The hard question is “What capacity should the uprated Grid have”?
A sensible Engineer would probably calculate how much all the cars, trucks and heat pumps will take (around 100GW) add this to the present size (40-50GW), add some extra capacity for contingency as adding it at build time is relatively cheap (50GW) and come to an answer (200GW). The estimated cost? It is probably somewhere between £3 and £6 Trillion at today’s prices. There is no way that this can be afforded in any reasonable timescale, and the materials are certainly not available. Now what?

Reply to  The Real Engineer
February 28, 2023 9:16 am

Go ahead anyway, and hope that nobody notices until after you have retired.

Leo Smith
Reply to  The Real Engineer
February 28, 2023 9:17 am

Now what?

“When things get difficult, you just have to lie”

  • Jean Claude Juncker, former (alcoholic) president of the European Union.
Jim Gorman
Reply to  The Real Engineer
March 1, 2023 4:34 am

As an engineer I’m sure you realize that adding a major generator to an existing system is not as simple as using a T-connector to splice wires. The whole damn connecting network has to be reengineered to balance the power. That requires sub-stations that have transformers, insulators, and wiring to that.

I have pointed out before that no planning was being done to provision the material to do this. I think people believe all this is just sitting on a shelf somewhere, like a toy store, waiting for someone to come in a buy it. Ha! Try finding a transformer capable of handling megawatts of power sitting on a shelf somewhere.

The whole process is upside down! Put in the generators, then build the network? It is a mess from the get go.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jim Gorman
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 8:44 am

It won’t meet current demand while moving to Net Zero, and certainly not the higher demand caused by EVs and heat pumps.

The consequence will be the society will have to adapt to having insufficient and unreliable electricity supply. It will be colder, poorer and less mobile. A lot less.

Reply to  michel
February 28, 2023 9:19 am

Which was the plan all along.

Reply to  michel
February 28, 2023 9:25 am

I believe that’s the plan for the proles.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  michel
February 28, 2023 6:12 pm

Isn’t that their goal? Everything the left proposes is intended to impoverish, humiliate, and demoralize the lower orders.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michel
March 1, 2023 7:46 am

The EVs and heat pumps also have another problem.

The UK has around 300,000 Low Voltage substations and c. 1m feeders with about 450,000 km of buried cables. About 80% of these networks are built for ‘lighting plus’ (c. 1.2 kW loads) not a 2050 load of 7kW EV and 9kW Heat Pump. This 80% will need replacement involving digging up most of the non motorway roads in the country at an estimated cost of over £60bn

An interesting discussion of this on the V2G website between a representative of v2g and a Doctor of Engineering at Southampton University can be found at

Eli Rabett
Reply to  Dave Andrews
March 1, 2023 8:33 am

Most of these questions about building a better net are reasonable, but given a time frame of 20 years they are a doable lift. For example most streets do get dug up over that period and 1 trillion over 20 years is 50 billion/year (currency units of your choice) which is not so far from the current US ~30billion in capital spending for electrical distribution

Last edited 3 months ago by Eli Rabett
Jim Gorman
Reply to  Eli Rabett
March 1, 2023 10:14 am

Your 30 billion is misleading. It is over 50 billion per annum for distribution capital of replacement and new service. That clearly doesn’t cover additional capacity need for electric heating and EV charging nor does it cover replacing recent changes.

It also doesn’t cover the cost of writing off existing investment as it is replaced.

I suspect a figure for the U.S. is more like $3 trillion per annum for the next 10 years to do the upgrades. And that assumes both material and labor is available. I also expect a number of sub-stations will need to be upsized and aquiring land won’t be easy in existing residential areas so relocations might be needed.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 28, 2023 11:50 pm

the National Grid has the capacity, it used to have a maximum demand of 60 gigawatts or so some years ago.
If proposed generation sites were located adjacent to suitable sections of the grid it would work.
It is when they are remote from the grid that there are problems. It is not quick or easy to install high voltage power lines.

Reply to  Bill Toland
March 1, 2023 2:04 am

What makes you think most people in Britain are going to have motorized transport and heated homes once these measures take effect? Of course they aren’t!

Last edited 3 months ago by Graemethecat
February 28, 2023 2:22 am

Grid problems? – Really? But, but we “modelled” it!

Reply to  SteveG
February 28, 2023 9:20 am

Grid models are pretty reliable, and they have been predicting these problems.

February 28, 2023 2:33 am

So the old familiar large hub and spoke generation and distribution regime is a whole lot simpler and more economic than spaghetti and meatballs. Whoda thunk it?

Reply to  observa
February 28, 2023 2:51 am

I think you’ve just answered a thought of mine.

With the traditional grid, we know where the main users are, and consequently, we can place the power generators relatively close to the points of demand, and the necessary links for supply and backup.

But if the generation source is constantly shifting (wind variability), then the grid would have to be more complex, and inherently more unreliable.

I suppose, it won’t be long, before someone finally sneezes (“meatballs and spaghetti”)

Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 4:59 am

If you’re 5km from the central power station and I’m 10kms neither of us gives a rats tossbag whether our frequencies are in phase. Now about that spaghetti and meatballs setup with all the cottage generators…..?

Reply to  observa
February 28, 2023 6:03 am

You may not care, but the grid operator sure does. Out of phase sources cancel each other, resulting in less available power.

Reply to  JamesB_684
February 28, 2023 6:30 am

James. Read my reply to the above.

Reply to  observa
February 28, 2023 6:29 am

You clearly have no idea about the importance of synchronization of generators. So just to educate you sonny, from a person who does have a qualification in electrical engineering.

If you switch a generator into the grid without synchronizing, the result can be catastrophic. At best, the entire mounts for the generator and turbine can be destroyed, taking the whole system out for many months. At worst, it could totally destroy the entire generator setup.

That is why, the output from turbines, is converted to DC, then back again into AC and synchronized with the grid.

But your response clearly demonstrates, that you had no idea of what my post was about.

My apologies for highlighting your ignorance .

Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 7:06 am

Are you talking wind turbines here, or turbo-alternator ?

Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 7:15 am

Well done. I was an electrians mate on a nuclear sub with two turbine generators, and now I’m an electrical engineer. We had to be very careful bringing the 2nd generator onto the bus, exactly matching speeds, and timing when to close the output breaker, lest damage occur.

Reply to  JamesB_684
February 28, 2023 8:49 am


Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 9:30 am

Yeah, letting the smoke out gives a dramatic display but is not beneficial.

Smart Rock
Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 9:31 am

I think that observa was doing a sarc.

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  observa
February 28, 2023 6:56 am

Your indifference is only valid if you two are on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall.

Reply to  observa
February 28, 2023 9:30 am

That’s only true if you and he are on separate grids. If the two of you are on the same grid, and the phases don’t match, then the grid is going to crash.

Last edited 3 months ago by MarkW
Richard Greene
Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 7:21 am

You are OBVIOUSLY biased against wind and failed to point out the coming good news:

Wind energy makes the job of grid management much more exciting. No more sleeping on the job. No more long coffee breaks. And no more two martini lunches. There will be office betting pools on the week of the first blackout. Life at work will be fun. Younger people will want these now exciting grid management jobs.

This comment is serious,
not satire,

Reply to  Richard Greene
February 28, 2023 11:05 am

I understand the technology better than you do. If you call that a serious comment, you need to go and do some proper research into the matter.

Clearly, you have no idea of routing issues, and the cost of building a so-called “smart” grid.

It’s not about, “exciting grid management jobs”, it’s about providing users with a reliable energy supply. Maybe, in the future you might change your tune, when on an operating table, plunged into darkness, due to and” exciting” power failure.

Richard Greene
Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 1:58 pm

Judging by your following line from a prior comment, you were already a cool, calm and collected person.

“My apologies for highlighting your ignorance.”

I couldn’t add anything of value to your good comments, so I thought you would be a good candidate for cage rattling, in the style of Floyd R. Turbo.

So here is my advice,
that you did not ask for and will not take:
Calm down
Learn to laugh at satire
Take your medications
Or get sedated.

I highly recommend that you read these very important Rules of Live By, written by perfesser George Carlin, who was also an expert on grid management, when not doing comedy:

Honest Climate Science and Energy: Some of George Carlin’s Rules to Live By

This comment is serious,
not satire.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  bobpjones
February 28, 2023 9:26 am

A distributed generation grid, by definition would mean that few of the generators are going to be close to the major users of power. This means that the high capacity lines that supply these major users are going to be longer.
That means more expense to build the grid, and more energy lost during transmission.

Reply to  MarkW
February 28, 2023 11:00 am

Yup, but also, there will be the routing issues.

February 28, 2023 2:33 am

It’s happening because we humans are fighting to achieve happiness which it’s driving us towards the dark end

February 28, 2023 3:03 am

It would be fun to see a meeting of all the engineers with knowledge and experience in electricity generation and distribution who predicted this problem. Followed by a meeting of all the engineers with knowledge and experience in electricity generation and distribution who can outline the cost and time required to solve this problem.

Followed by a meeting of all the reporters and news magnates with knowledge and experience in electricity generation and distribution — which would, in mathematical terms, be an empty set.

Next, we will eviscerate and vote from office all the politicians who let this happen … and are still letting this happen.

I can dream …

Reply to  rovingbroker
February 28, 2023 6:19 am

Me = Engineer (energy)

Shockingly, the room wouldn’t have that many engineers in it. The industry has gotten horribly woke-a-fied, especially in the past decade. The majority of the engineers in the industry fall in two categories:

The True believers: “Yes! Electrification and the ‘hydrogen economy’ is achievable! Must save the world from CO2”. This group exists behind an impenetrable wall of cognitive dissonance.The Demoralized: You engineer “solutions” that you know won’t work because that is what you are paid to do. Objecting will get you labeled as “not a team player” or worse, get you fired / black listed from the industry.I was one of the few at my (former) employer that would push back at the unfolding economic & environmental train wreck that we were facilitating for our clients. My protestations were barely tolerated. “Former” because I was the only one in the company to refuse taking the mRNA jab. This refusal left me unemployable for the past year+ in the industry.

Last edited 3 months ago by Hell_Is_Like_Newark
Reply to  Hell_Is_Like_Newark
February 28, 2023 8:56 am

I guess your only consolation is knowing that sooner or later reality will prevail and someone will have to explain why they provided the wrong answer.

Reply to  mkelly
February 28, 2023 11:08 am

Not if they are a politician. Especially if they are approaching retirement!

February 28, 2023 3:17 am

 putting at risk the Government’s plans to improve Britain’s energy security and cut carbon emissions.

This guy is not even remotely sceptical, he’s a headbanger

“For some, the goal of eliminating the UK’s contribution to climate change is an urgent challenge we face on par with combatting the pandemic. For others, it is political folly and a cost too great. Let me say this to those in the Conservative Party and beyond who are still sceptical — net zero is not a fad; it is a unique opportunity to bring industry back to the Red Wall.”

And just in case you weren’t entirely sure

“Ben Houchen:
“We are generally getting to a place in the next couple of years where we can say actually if you want a career in tackling climate change and reaching net zero, you want to move to Teesside.

“Because the vision I have is I want Teesside to become synonymous with net zero in the same way that Silicon Valley is with social media and IT.”

Next stop: Parliament.

Richard Greene
February 28, 2023 3:54 am

Paul Homewood is the best UK climate and energy reporter, IMHO.
Proof that climate science needs more retired accountants.
I recommended this article yesterday at:
Honest Climate Science and Energy

Homewood also writes an excellent Friday article that is published at The Conservative Woman website. His last article is here:

The climate scaremongers: We are being fed propaganda by a leftie cartel – The Conservative Woman

Rod Evans
February 28, 2023 3:59 am

Don’t you just love the convoluted fudge names given by Green leaning councils to their Waste Incinerators. ‘The Tees Valley Energy Recovery Facility’.
Does anyone know how much gas is required to be simultaneously fed into the boilers to ensure the other ‘material’ in the energy recovery facility actually combusts?

Stephen Osborn
Reply to  Rod Evans
March 1, 2023 7:21 am

We had a tour of an electric from waste plate some years ago and they said after using diesel to start it, the combustion process is self-sustaining. This is not surprising as there is a lot of energy in the rubbish; anything organic will burn quite nicely.

February 28, 2023 4:11 am

So just more proof that none of this “Net Zero” bullshit has been even vaguely thought through.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Mr.
February 28, 2023 7:26 am

leftists don’t specialize in thinking.
They specialize in gaining power and control
Unfortunately, they do both well.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Mr.
February 28, 2023 8:31 am

That depends on what outcome you think the political classes are aiming for. If it’s the absolute destruction of the economy they’re right on target and precisely following the plan.

Reply to  Mr.
February 28, 2023 9:38 am

Most leftists are so convinced of their own mental and moral superiority, that even questioning their pronouncements is proof that you are evil and must be destroyed.

A CNN reporter the other day, declared that it’s the fault of the right wing, that the media missed the story of the Wuhan flu being leaked by a lab in Wuhan.
According to the story, once someone on the right put forth this theory, all reporters immediately dismissed the theory. It wasn’t until a government agency confirmed the theory, that they were willing to look into it again.

February 28, 2023 4:49 am

[View from UK]So Mr Houchen (nothing personal: representative of modern politicians) thinks that only “failure to grasp red tape issues” is scuppering NetZero (and presumably Agenda 2030, Agenda 2050 and Xi Ping’s plans for global market dominance in manufacturing). While just conceivably the electrical grid capacity for generation and distribution could be doubled in a decade or three and grid-level storage, at considerable financial and political cost, (“it’s just details of red tape, engineering and finance”), sooner or later Mr Houchen and the politicians are going to bump into a double-whammy: the Laws of Physics, and Civil Unrest. The former has been well dealt with in this column. The latter could hit politicians before they can catch their breath. In the UK we have a fruit and vegetable price crisis caused by the huge cost of energy and anti-farm legislation. Some politicians and activists are desperately trying to pin the crisis on Brexit or profiteering, price-gouging, or the imperative to Save The Planet. This may convince some of the people in the short term to accept the current discomfort. However, as more and more people in the UK (and some of the EU) find they cannot afford to heat their homes or put ketchup on their vegan burgers, they will begin to hold the politicians to account, even in the UK. Since all major political parties in the western world are seemingly paid to obey UN rules to implement Agenda 20XX in their various countries, the battle is heading for the barricades rather than the ballot box.

The only glimmer of light I see is that today’s teenagers are getting sceptical, or perhaps merely bored, with endless Green propaganda from schools, universities and the media. Furthermore, if they can’t charge their smartphones one cold, still winter night (because their neighbours’ Smartmeter has allowed them to charge an EV!) they might might finally revolt against their parents’ obsession with windmills, solar panels and coloured trash cans and begin to recover the main foundations of prosperity and comfort: cheap 24/7 energy.

Last edited 3 months ago by suffolkboy
Barnes Moore
Reply to  suffolkboy
February 28, 2023 5:49 am

Brits have a long way to go. Seems they are willing to tolerate a lot of real stupidity by the pols and climate activists. Why was there only one person dealing with this issue while police stood still? Bizarre.

Peta of Newark
February 28, 2023 4:52 am

Here comes one of my number crunches:

Those 2 windfarms total 3.6GW nameplateVattenfall say will cost £10BillionLets say they last 15 yearsLets say a capacity factor of 40%Thus they generate 190 Million MWh over 15yrs in totoCosts:

£10Billion spend, this will be borrowed moneyThus (over 15 years) will cost another £10Billion in interest chargesTotal Money Charges = £20BillionAs a (wannabe) viable enterprise they will need double that to cover salaries, pensions, office/infrastructure, maintenance, IT, rent, shareholders, tax, insurance and ‘contingencies’

So all up, those windmills will need to generate £40Billion worth of electrikery in their 15 year lifetime.

Which works out to:
=(£40Billion) <divide by> (190 Million MWh) = £211 per MWh

Thus £211 per MWh becomes their commercially viable Wholesale Price, in turn = the Input Price for the Utility Companies who distribute it to the consumers

Typical mark-up (Rule-of-Thumb) for any/all companies is to make your retail price = double what you’d paid wholesale.

So Retail Consumers will land with bills of 42pence per kWh for electric coming from these windfarms.

Your comparison but current (price capped) UK retail for electric is 33pence per kWh
Its gonna be 40+ something this time next month (still price capped)

Plus 44pence per day ‘standing charge’
(Funny that, I thought smart meters were going to get rid of that seeing as Standing Charge was (nominally) to pay for a man-in-a-van to come round every 3 months to actually Read Your Meter)

edit to PS
Forgot, retail consumers get 5% tax added on. For domestic use.

New homes will be fitted with 2 meters, one for domestic and the other for your Tesla.
God only knows what tesla electric will cost but it will attract tax at 20%

Last edited 3 months ago by Peta of Newark
February 28, 2023 4:59 am

As an HV Projects Manager for 40+ years, this comes as no surprise – another question the Govt need to ask themselves, particularly in that oxymoron new Dept that is Energy & Net Zero, is how the hell will they power all those planned EVs and heat pumps? Here’s a clue for them, they won’t without multi decades and multi billions worth of grid and distribution network upgrades, oh, and of course, many more gas, coal or nuclear power plants

Last edited 3 months ago by Energywise
Reply to  Energywise
February 28, 2023 9:41 am

Out of all of Jimminy Carter’s mistakes, and there were many, the Dept of Energy was the worst.

February 28, 2023 5:38 am

“Rising cost pf materials and interest rates…”

Poor planning in the rush for subsidies and short-term gain

Tom Halla
February 28, 2023 5:40 am

Greens are innumerate.

Reply to  Tom Halla
February 28, 2023 10:39 am

and proud of it.

February 28, 2023 5:45 am

All those meatballs need lots of spaghetti with the great transmissioning-
Bill Gates Says High-Voltage Power Lines Will Save America. He’s Right. (

Joseph Zorzin
February 28, 2023 5:46 am

story tip

Off topic, but the recent canceling of the Dilbert cartoon- to me- is a big deal. I hope one of the editors here starts a story on it.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 28, 2023 7:33 am

On February 14 I published my batch of seven Dilbert cartoons related to climate and science, at the link below.

Honest Climate Science and Energy: Climate Perfesser Dilbert to start your day in a good mood

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard Greene
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 28, 2023 8:16 am

awesome, thanks, I’ll forward that to everyone I know

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 28, 2023 9:44 am

That 26 percent of blacks believe that it is not OK to be white, and another 21 percent aren’t sure, has to be one of the most depressing things I’ve read in quite awhile.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkW
February 28, 2023 10:46 am

Propaganda and brainwashing works.

Martin Luther King is nowhere to been seen.

King’s “Quality of character” is nowhere to been seen.

Only skin color is important to the leftwing radicals, because it gives them a vehicle to divide (and conquer) people. They are doing great damage to our society, and it’s intentional.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
February 28, 2023 6:29 pm

Cut out the middle men, who are all @$$#013$ anyway:

February 28, 2023 6:17 am
Scarecrow Repair
February 28, 2023 6:54 am

But the scheme has been thrown into doubt after the National Grid said it cannot connect the facility to the electricity network until 2031 at the earliest, when capacity upgrades will be finished.

This actually surprises me and shows a silver lining I had not thought existed. That someone actually thought and planned for grid capacity upgrades is astonishing. Although it is useless for implementing Net Zero, it does mean that when Net Zero inevitably grinds to a halt, there will be a modern grid in place so the old tired grid infrastructure can be recycled.

It’s a tiny cloud and the silver lining is quite thin, but it is still better than nothing.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
February 28, 2023 8:29 am

Is a detailed project plan publicly available for the upgrades scheduled for the National Grid, including a description of its upgraded technical configuration?

Once the work is complete, how friendly would the upgraded National Grid be to the presence of small modular reactors which are being constructed in serious numbers beginning in the mid to late 2030’s after the UK’s wind & solar projects have failed massively to deliver on their promises?

Scarecrow Repair
Reply to  Beta Blocker
February 28, 2023 9:00 am

I don’t know those answers, and frankly, am a bit dubious. My comment was not assuming veracity, only hopeful surprise.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
February 28, 2023 9:41 am

I am likewise dubious. However, if I were in the Rolls Royce SMR marketing department, I’d be looking closely at what the National Grid’s upgrade plans look like.

If no such detailed plans are publicly available, then it is appropriate to doubt whether credible upgrade plans actually exist; i.e., ones which can deliver the additional transmission capacity needed to support a wind & solar energy future for the UK.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Beta Blocker
March 1, 2023 12:00 am

Beta Blocker,

some proposed site for SMRs are at decommissioned power stations which have grid connection on site.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Iain Reid
March 1, 2023 5:42 pm

Ian Reid: “Beta Blocker, some proposed sites for SMRs are at decommissioned power stations which have grid connection on site.”

Here in the US, the initial production run of the TerraPower molten salt SMR is targeted for installation at retired coal-fired plants in Wyoming where the grid connections are already in place.

But a problem may be developing.

An issue we see in America is that the supply chain for newly manufactured power transmission and distribution equipment of all kinds — the kind of equipment you would see in place at a power station on its day of operation — that supply chain has moved offshore.

IIRC, the wait from order to delivery can be as long as three years.

This makes the power transmission and distribution subsystems from a shuttered power plant quite valuable as a source of used equipment which can be targeted for refurbishment and eventual redeployment — assuming those systems are in a repairable state.

A plan for the transition of the National Grid in the UK must take account of this issue. As would a credible plan for achieving Net Zero in the United States, if such a credible plan actually existed.

Reply to  Beta Blocker
February 28, 2023 11:35 am

If they are declared ‘green’ they they can most likely depend on largess in support funds whether or not they can actually be put into use. Isn’t that enough?

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Beta Blocker
March 1, 2023 5:57 am

I can assure you that the addition of a generator of a decent size to an existing network does NOT consist of just splicing the output to some existing wires. Look at a sub-station sometime. It takes high voltage input, reduces it through transformers, and splits the power into several “networks” for further distribution.

Every small generator makes the network more and more complicated plus vulnerable.

Here is an analogy. You run a bottling plant and you have designed your line to handle so many bottles per hour. A guy comes along and says I want to add my bottles to your line just before the washing. Someone else wants to add their bottles after the washing. Can you just let them jam up at certain points while your bottles/hour stays the same? Something has to give.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 1, 2023 6:00 pm

Jim, you are correct in saying that the new SMR’s aren’t necessarily plug & play energy generation devices. One of the serious cost control issues now developing with these oncoming SMR’s is the rising cost of the power transmission and distribution equipment needed to tie these SMRs into the grid.

The rising costs of this equipment has been one of several factors which has pushed the NuScale SMR’s estimated megawatt hour cost for their initial roll-out plant in Eastern Idaho from $55 per MWe to $89 per MWe.

See my response to Ian Reid above concerning his observation that retired power stations are being proposed as the logical places for siting a larger SMR or a set of ganged smaller SMR’s.

With wind & solar panels being strewn across the American landscape, the US will be facing a tight supply of new-build power transmission and distribution equipment.

I think it likely that if a coal-fired or a gas-fired power station is retired prematurely, it is very possible the plant’s power transmission and distribution tie-in infrastructure will be stripped of any equipment which can become a candidate for refurbishment and redeployment.

February 28, 2023 7:03 am

Clearly this project didn’t get the National Grid and/or political backing that the wind and solar farms have.
Or didn’t spread their money around enough, which is the same thing…

February 28, 2023 7:10 am

Skill sets are in short supply also….

story tip

America Is Trying to Electrify. There Aren’t Enough Electricians.

Climate law is expected to add new demand for car chargers and heat pumps

By Amrith Ramkumar

Electricians, the essential workers in the transition to renewable energy, are in increasingly short supply. They are needed to install the electric-car chargers, heat pumps and other gear deemed essential to address climate change. 
Electricians say they are booked several months out and struggling to find enough workers to keep up with demand. Many are raising wages and prices and worried that they won’t be able to keep up as government climate incentives kick in. 
“I’m tired of telling people I can’t help them,” said Brian LaMorte, co-owner of LaMorte Electric Heating and Cooling in Ithaca, N.Y., which does residential heat-pump installations and electric-service upgrades. 

February 28, 2023 8:47 am

There may be something that I don’t understand, but what is the difference in burning household trash in a “massive incinerator” and burning hard coal or natural gas. Doesn’t the combustion of any carbon based material (which most every thing is) produce carbon dioxide? Seems to me that these feel good ideas are just plain nonsense.

Reply to  jvcstone
February 28, 2023 9:48 am

The same reason why burning chips made from trees is acceptable to them. The growing of trees and other plants pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere, so the burning of those plants in a power plant is not a problem.

Reply to  jvcstone
February 28, 2023 1:21 pm

Making disposable plastic packaging etc from oil is just absolutely ridiculously cheap, and raw material and finished product is cheap and easy to transport.

Making single use materials and then burning them for energy is getting more bang for your buck from less raw material and transport.

Making packaging and materials from trees still leaves a disposal problem, which can also be mitigated by burning for energy. ( if you bury them somewhere, they still break down to CO2 and methane).

Burning oil and planting trees makes more sense to me than cutting trees, wood pelleting and transporting and then burning them and planting trees.

February 28, 2023 9:40 am

It seemingly never occurs to the master minds in charge of the grid that maybe they’re doing it all wrong. That’s woke think for ya.

February 28, 2023 12:53 pm

A copper deficit is set to inundate global markets throughout 2023 — and one analyst predicts the shortfall could potentially extend throughout the rest of the decade.
The world is currently facing a global copper shortage, fueled by increasingly challenging supply streams in South America and higher demand pressures.

Copper is a leading pulse check for economic health due to its incorporation in various uses such as electrical equipment and industrial machinery.
A copper squeeze could be an indicator that global inflationary pressures will worsen, and subsequently compel central banks to maintain their hawkish stance for longer.

February 28, 2023 1:41 pm

In Western Europe the logic seems to be: there will always be some other country ready to increase production… and everybody is thinking the same. And interconnects are already often near capacity.

Richard Greene
February 28, 2023 2:13 pm

Here’s why I believe Nut Zero will fail;

Too few guests at the “party”:
Over seven billion people of eight billion live in nations that could not care less about Nut Zero. Smart nations such as China, India and Russia.

The “plan”
There is no detailed plan for engineering feasibility, cost and timing analyses.
According to my MBA, things can’t go according to plan if there is no plan.

The lack of engineering knowledge:
A huge engineering project never done before will reveal an alarming number of subjects the leaders knew nothing about. Since the leaders are leftists, that number will be very alarming.

A fish:
My Flounder Limit — utilities will keep adding unreliables until they flounder and have a blackout. Never mind the Pollock Limit. Wrong fish.

A boid:
The Duck Curve — does not match wind and solar variations

The science:

Shockley–Queisser limit – Wikipedia

Betz’s law – Wikipedia

AGW is Not Science
February 28, 2023 2:24 pm

Nut Zero is a threat to civilization so anything that threatens THAT is beneficial.

February 28, 2023 2:40 pm

Net zero needs to be removed from the English language. It makes as much sense as gracious Hitler, or gracious Stalin or gracious Mao. We all need to stop living a lie.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Bob
February 28, 2023 9:02 pm

“Living a lie” is a great description of the Climate Religion.

March 1, 2023 12:01 am

The UK is a very interesting case to watch. It probably has the most complete real time reporting of electricity statistics, and the financial implications of its Net Zero policies are well reported and analysed. And it seems to be a country whose political class are most determined to do Net Zero no matter what the social and economic cost.

Anyone seriously interested in the cost and provision of backup in the face of intermittency should read Paul Homewood’s account of the latest UK Capacity Auction:

Paul will understand the details of exactly how this works, which I do not. There is a simplified account of it here:

Its the mechanism, and the auction shows the cost, though its not easy to figure out the full costs, of having enough reliable capacity to run the grid while at the same time moving to intermittent generation.

Basically its a case of, install wind, and also install a duplicate network for when its calm. And pay through the nose to keep it on standby.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michel
March 1, 2023 7:59 am

But, but, but Nick S keeps telling us unreliables are making electricity cheaper and I’m just reading my ever increasing bills upside down!

Reply to  Dave Andrews
March 1, 2023 9:05 am

Yes. Nick thinks that the cheapest way of generating electricity is to have wind+gas+solar, which he thinks will be cheaper than coal or gas alone. And the reason, in his view, is that the wind and solar will lead to savings in fuel costs.

He has never given any numbers to show this, nor has he ever referenced any study showing it. And it seems highly unlikely. Because the intermittency raises fuel consumption for gas, and is impossible to accommodate with coal. And with wind and solar you have to install large amounts of transmission (as this piece shows). And then you have to pay constraint payments when the wind and/or solar is over generating. On a windy summer day at noon, for instance.

I am prepared to believe his argument if given a proper study with all costs enumerated and ordinary net present value analysis done. With signoff from real grid engineers. But I’m certainly not going to take an amateur’s word for it, and it seems most unlikely to be true.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  michel
March 1, 2023 9:21 am

Nick is an advocate of weighted averages for GAT. Yet he never shows any investment computations for weighted averages of energy supply. In other words, what is the investment cost for

(0%wind + 0%solar + 100%gas)?

Or maybe:

(5%wind + 5%solar + 90%gas)..

It seems funny that the costs for covering low output unreliable never get assigned to them.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 2, 2023 2:10 am

What is needed would fit on three spreadsheets. Just take an example, say an example 10GW system. Then write down all the cash flows over 20 years, including fuel, for each of:

— wind + solar + gas
— coal
— gas

Then do the discounted cash flow. Assume current prices of fuel, and do sensitivities to variation.

I don’t have the time or energy to do it. Someone like Paul Homewood would be the ideal person. Needs some research to get the current costings of each technology, build and running costs.

The thing is, the way Nick is finally defending wind is to make the case dependent on the savings on fuel paying for all the costs of the wind installations, including transmission and constraint payments. I just don’t believe the savings in fuel are going to be great enough. And part of the problem here is that when you run the gas intermittently you make it use far more fuel than in constant mode.

I suspect gas is also, when run continuously, more expensive anyway than superheated coal.

Well, this is what’s needed to be done. Nick endlessly reciting that wind and sun are free doesn’t begin to cut it. This is a huge policy decision, we should get some robust numbers. But I have never seen anything like what I’m saying is needed, and Nick has never either done the work himself or pointed to anyone who has.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  michel
March 2, 2023 6:22 am

Creating a highly detailed deep-dive engineering feasibility model of a 90% wind and solar energy grid for the UK would be time consuming and expensive. But easily enough done, relatively speaking if enough money is available and competent people are assigned to do it.

A credible plan for achieving the UK’s Net Zero goals must have that kind of detailed engineering feasibility model as its foundation. That we haven’t seen such a plan is a sign that those pushing Net Zero don’t want to hear the answers a disciplined analysis would provide.

Andy Pattullo
March 1, 2023 9:26 am

A clean incinerator to reclaim the energy in waste rather than burying it is a great idea. Unfortunately current energy policy has given wind and solar the right to jump the line on access to the grid and that is a major part of the problem with rebuilding a functional and reliable grid. That the incinerator can be shut out of the grid while on and offshore wind farms get a free ride is the definition of insanity and recipe for national poverty.

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