Renewable Energy Fail, as British Coal Generators Fired Up AGAIN to Cover Shortfalls

Essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Strativarius, Breitbart; Britain has once again been forced to face the inadequacies of their energy system of the future.

Emergency coal power plants used for first time as UK sees cold snap

Two old coal-fired power plants have begun generating again as the UK expects to see its coldest night of the year so far. 

The plants had been put on standby in case of shortfalls, but started feeding power into the grid this afternoon. 

National Grid blamed high demand and a shortage of electricity from other sources.

The coal plants began operating in 1966 but were due to close last September. 

However, operators have kept them open for an extra six months at the request of the government, amid fears of possible power shortages.

Temperatures are expected to drop to -15C (5F) in some parts of the UK on Tuesday evening, with snow sweeping parts of the country. 

The cold snap is expected to last for the next few days, with weather warnings in place across the UK. 

The two coal-powered stations that are in use again again are in West Burton in Nottinghamshire. 

Read more:

Isn’t it pathetic? I mean, how many billions have been spent on renewables, only for them to fall down and stop producing when power demand ramps up in a cold snap? Imagine if all the coal had been shut down, as was originally scheduled, and Britain was stuck with trying to rely on batteries and wind turbines to carry through the winter?

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Jim Turner
March 10, 2023 10:24 am

‘Be the first to comment’ – ok then!
The problem is that this will get little or no coverage in the MSM and the great majority of people will carry on believing that there is no problem, even those on ‘renewable’ tariffs will still get their coal-generated electricity, although apparently someone somewhere will plant a tree to ‘offset’it. It has to be admitted that the people who read this blog are dismissed as ‘deniers’ and are assumed to be nut-jobs who believe that the world is run by lizard-men from Venus.For this reason I regrettably believe that things will have to get much worse before they will get better, a bit like those Apache arrows in old westerns, you can’t pull them out so you have to push them all the way through.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Jim Turner
March 10, 2023 11:13 am

What sceptics didn’t predict this and every other important disastrous problem arising from wokey science and its forecasts? Actually, if you used WUWT only for your news, you’ve known all about these failed outcomes for a decade and a half.

Here’s a handy summary for the future: the green dream (chartreuse nightmare) using wind, solar and batteries has already failed miserably and taken uncounted life casualties and destroyed economies and agriculture. Peak wind/solar occurred in 2017. Having had to desperately go into oil gas and coal markets at spot prices to minimize tragic loss of life of their citizens, is there any reasonable thinking person that expects their leaders have the nerve to jump back into the renewables abyss?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 11, 2023 5:58 am

Well here in UK the Labour Party is way ahead of the governing Tories in opinion polls and a key part of their platform is fossil free electricity production by 2030. Impossible of course but if they get into power they are deluded enough to try it.

Bryan A
Reply to  Jim Turner
March 10, 2023 12:07 pm

What, Wait, you mean the world isn’t run by Lizard Men from Venus?
Reptillians rule

Last edited 2 months ago by Bryan A
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Jim Turner
March 10, 2023 1:04 pm

and we all believe the world is flat and only 5,000 years old /sarc

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 10, 2023 5:42 pm

The world is indeed flat … look at the UN flag.
But it actually square … because people come from the 4 corners of the world !!
The end has come upon the four corners of the land. Psalm 96:10.
Also in Revelation 7:1 & Isaiah 11:12 … so it must be true !!!

Last edited 2 months ago by 1saveenergy
Allan MacRae
Reply to  Jim Turner
March 11, 2023 11:00 am

This Winter has been mild in Britain and Germany, but even this current moderate cold snap could cause many deaths – it does not have to be cold for long to kill – remember the Feb2021 Polar Vortex that extended all the way south to Texas and Mexico, killing about 300 Americans?

The way to analyse this situation is to examine total deaths against the historic record.
The following treatise was published in 2019. The conclusion was probably controversial to many at that time.
Do any rational observers still disagree with this allegation now?

If anyone still disagrees, let’s revisit the question after this Winter and Spring – after the Big Cull in Europe caused by the Climate and Covid scams. The only thing that might save them is a warm Winter – or falsified death stats.

More on the Climate scam: Please see the article below by Tom Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr – gratitude to Tom and Jay.
The Climate scare has always been a green fraud – concocted by scoundrels and believed by imbeciles – wolves stampeding the sheep. It will end badly.
Regards, Allan MacRae

March 10, 2023 11:01 am

If Europeans are worried about global warming, maybe they should live here.
Smart Rock
March 10, 2023 11:49 am

Off topic, but this is one of the photos I got off the web to try and show my grandchildren what life was like in the 1950s. It was a dirty world, but as long as we could afford coal, it wasn’t a bad world to live in.

coal delivery c 1950.jpg
Reply to  Smart Rock
March 10, 2023 4:17 pm


Reply to  Smart Rock
March 11, 2023 1:09 am

Partially true. London 1950’s killer smog due to coal fires. Local gasworks making domestic gas from coal, smell permeates across towns. U.K. switched to “natural” gas in mid 1960’s, my home town being the first.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Smart Rock
March 11, 2023 5:03 am

I recall coal deliveries before we moved to gas (which was some years before North Sea gas came in). The coal delivery was a ton, with the two deliverymen hauling hundredweight sacks from the truck up the garden path to the coal cellar just as pictured here.

Now I find myself loading up log baskets from the wood store…

Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 12:03 pm

They were kept on standby in case of a peak in demand, which happened. But wind has been doing its bit:

comment image

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 12:24 pm

Dear Nike,
I am going to write this slowly and in caps so you can understand it.
For homework, write a 500 word essay on what that sentence means to a nation’s power grid. Compare and contrast fossil fuel and nuclear power vs. wind power in terms of reliability. Comment on the disadvantages of unreliable power.
Write about the impact of unreliable energy on the industrial sector of the economy. It’s one thing to tell granddad to put on a sweater, but, how about a smelting plant or a car manufacturing plant?
You know, get real.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  joel
March 10, 2023 12:39 pm

Yes, wind is weather dependent. Demand is weather dependent too, but we’ve managed to cope with that.

Wind has no fuel costs.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 12:50 pm

Neither does nuclear.
The advocates of wind power agree this latter fact in pointing out that nuclear power is the worst thing to have on the grid if you want to promote wind power. They never cycle down a nuclear plant to save on fuel. It is use it or lose it.
Demand is weather dependent. It goes up in cold weather. In Texas, wind power drops dramatically in cold weather. This is not due to icing of the blades. Wind speed falls after a cold front comes through.
We have only coped with the vagaries of the weather by having power sources that are independent of the weather. Closing coal plants, our most reliable fossil fuel power source, has made grids less stable wherever those plants are closed in large numbers. And, has made electricity more expensive.
And, how will having to cope with intermittent power allow the UK to compete in a global marketplace? Just “getting by for now” is not going to increase the UK’s living standard nor allow the UK to compete globally. The UK used to be the world’s leading manufacturing nation.

Reply to  joel
March 10, 2023 4:00 pm

Neither does nuclear

Uranium, plutonium…?

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  TheFinalNail
March 10, 2023 4:24 pm

Fuel for a nuclear plant is part of the capital cost. In any event, the cost of the fuel is such a small proportion of the cost of building and operating a nuclear plant that it is, in effect, free. E=mc^2, you know.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
March 10, 2023 5:46 pm

The IEA LCOE calculator put fuel cost at $9.33 per MWH in USA. Not free, but about half the cost of gas or coal.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 8:54 pm

Point is, once the fuel is paid for, it costs nothing extra to use it to make steam. That’s why nuclear plants run full out. Cutting back doesn’t result in fuel cost savings.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 11:58 pm


refer to my earlier post., look at the full picture, LCOE does not cover the full picture despite the word levelised.

Last edited 2 months ago by Iain Reid
It doesnot add up
Reply to  Duker
March 11, 2023 5:09 am

I think that’s 0.5¢/kWh. or $5/MWh.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 6:16 am

“LCOE and LCOS by themselves do not capture all of the factors that contribute to investment decisions, making direct comparisons of LCOE and LCOS across technologies problematic and misleading as a method to assess competitiveness of various generation alternatives”

US Energy Information Administration ‘Levelised Costs of New Generation Resources’, Annual Energy Outlook 2022 (March 2022)

Writing Observer
Reply to  TheFinalNail
March 11, 2023 4:12 pm

Concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, rare earths? Helicopter aviation gas to de-ice the blades?

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 2:30 pm

Unfortunately the extremes of temperature occur in low wind conditions, heat in summer and cold in winter. This winter has not been that cold. The summer of 2022 wasn’t that warm.
The big problem is that the UK politicians are as gullible and numerically challenged as you appear to be.
Unless you are a Wind-up merchant?

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 11, 2023 1:19 am

In 1962/63 winter, 1976 summer, 2017/2018 winter there were blocking high pressure areas over the U.K. which meant minimal wind for weeks. However, it also meant clear skies during daylight, but that would be little comfort in the winters as there would be insufficient daylight hours for solar to have been useful, also frozen snow would collect on the solar panels. During the summer there was a lot of dust which would reduce the efficiency of solar panels.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 10:46 pm

”Wind has no fuel costs.”

That is absolute rubbish. What about the cost of running fossil fuel plants inefficiently to back up unreliable renewables. Something you never hear about with the make believe cost of renewable energy.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 11:49 pm


that is true, but that is as far as it goes, wind requires that gas is running in parallel, sometimes at very low output but it must run to provide balancing and inertia. We could shut off the wind with no loss of supply. Shut off the gas and there would be no power. That equivalent capcity has to be paid for as are the very large payments required to stand by plants to cover for wind ‘s low output occasions and there are many of them.
There are no grids with large renewable inputs and that have cheap electricity despite wind being free. Take your blinkers off and look at the full picture.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 12:12 am

Managed to cope ?

It’s the interconnectors that have been doing what wind cant, as they do for all systems that rely on them.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Duker
March 11, 2023 5:32 am

Part of the problem was that we couldn’t rely on the interconnectors fully: the French were on strike, and still with nuclear shortages, and power supply on the Continent was also tight for similar reasons – Dunkelflaute.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 133133.png
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 4:24 pm

Tell that to the birds and bats!

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 12:38 pm

That’s the problem Nick.

Wind will only ever contribute “a bit” when & where it feels like it.

Wind behaves like one of those so-precious actresses from the silent movie days.
You know, the ones who had to receive fawning praise and faux compliments from the production team to get her to take her place on set for the scene when needed.

(Maybe that’s why Donovan wrote and sang
“Ah but I may as well try and catch the wind”?)

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Mr.
March 10, 2023 12:47 pm

Good song!

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 12:46 pm

I look at the graph and see a little coal, very little coal at all, at the bottom.

Does this graph cover when wind was low and coal high?

If so, somebody has covered something up!

Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 10, 2023 3:06 pm

When you combine mostly nuclear France + other BZ, biomass, 70% of pumped, oil, nuclear, coal, gas – that is, non-renewables on that graph, you are left with about 20 to 35% of the total coming from wind and solar (where is solar?). There is a long, expensive, high land use area way to go before domestic W&S supply is a substantial part of the UK demand. Better to not even try when you cost the benefit, if any.
Geoff S

It doesnot add up
Reply to  sherro01
March 11, 2023 5:23 am

Here is the past week’s solar. Some dull days.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 132149.png
Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 10, 2023 4:27 pm

Nick’s figure is for the period 9-10 March. The Breitbart story says that the emergency coal plants had to be started on Tuesday, 7 Mar., so not rendered on Nick’s figure which started 2 days after that.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
March 10, 2023 4:57 pm

I showed the latest graph on display at the source. You don’t get a choice about period. But, whatever, it does show wind doing its bit.

Leslie MacMillan
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 5:22 pm

I’m not accusing you of misleading us, Nick. I was answering Jim’s question as to why your figure didn’t show the coal use alluded to in the article.

Reply to  Leslie MacMillan
March 10, 2023 7:18 pm

No accusation, he’s misleading by using a graph that does not represent the correct time period, not getting a “choice” is not a plausible excuse … but we’ve come to expect that, hey ?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Streetcred
March 10, 2023 8:04 pm

Eric didn’t say that the correct time period was some days ago. But he did say that it was a “renewables energy fail”, with no evidence. I thought it was worth seeing what wind energy had actually been up to.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 5:39 am

There are plenty of sites that you could have used to review the history that have been linked here in the past. Indeed, if you followed the link advertised at the top of the page you could have produced the same charts I have.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 133800.png
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 6:56 pm

The Energy dashboard lets you select the period.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 2:27 am

Nearly 30GW installed and ~5GW is “doing its bit”? For God’s sake open your eyes

Mark BLR
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 5:41 am

I showed the latest graph on display at the source. You don’t get a choice about period.

From the menus at the top of your (BM Reports) webpage, select the “Generation –> Actual generation (middle column) –> Generation by fuel type” option.

Direct URL :

You can select the time period, in “chunks” of up to 90 (?) days or so, from that (BM Reports) page.

– – – – –

NB : I supplement that data with the 30-minute data from the ESO (National Grid) website (direct link).

The “Demand Data Update” option gives access to (30-minute resolution) data for the most recent couple of months or so.

Clicking through to the “Historic Demand Data” page instead gives you access to annual data files all the way back to 2014.

The BM Reports “Wind” data is actually only the “Metered Wind” supplied to the GB electricity grid, and its inter-connector (ICT) numbers only show imports (the minimum number recorded there is zero).

ESO has (estimated / modelled !) “Embedded Wind” and “Embedded Solar” numbers, as well as ICT numbers that include exports (negative numbers).

I use the formulae :

Total Wind = Metered Wind (from BMR) + Embedded Wind (from ESO)


Demand = BMR sum excluding the ICT (INT*) data columns + the relevant (“*_GENERATION” and “*_FLOW”) ESO data columns

Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 10, 2023 4:27 pm

Nick’s graphic is three days AFTER the article was written.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  ATheoK
March 11, 2023 4:18 am

I suspected that was the case without doing much research. I asked the question to point out that Nick’s response was not appropriate to the article.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 11, 2023 5:18 am

The data only show coal generation, and not coal use for providing standby capacity. This chart focuses on just the coal generation over the past week. It peaked at 2GW, and that required pre-warming.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 131421.png
Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 2:21 pm

Not so much tonight, looks like the UK grid is going to escape low wind conditions because it’s the weekend. Saturday, not for the first time, looks like a low wind day apart from the South West.
The gods of wind have smiled on those who think wind is the saviour of the human race this winter.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 4:23 pm

What a fraud, Nick!

Notice the relevant headline:

“Emergency coal power plants used for first time as UK sees cold snap”

Plus the notation immediately below:


3 days ago

Where nick shows a power graph from yesterday, 3/9/2023 into today, 3/10/2023.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 11:43 pm


since the 26th February, until today (11th March) wind has averaged about 5 Gwatts , with two days peaking, above 10 Gwatts, one of which you show. Doing it’s bit, do me a favour and look at the full picture.
Maximum demand was peaking at about 40 Mwatts, and bearing in mind we have about 27 Gwatts of wind capacity?
If you look on the Gridwatch Templar website it gives a far better illustration than your graph as the various inputs all have a zero baseline.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Iain Reid
March 11, 2023 5:43 am

Here’s the wind contribution which dipped as low as 674MW on the 7th.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 134222.png
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 3:38 am

Yes, wind is doing its bit. At 11.15 on March 11th it is providing a massive 7 percent of our electrcity.

Mark BLR
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 6:40 am

But wind has been doing its bit …

A “zoomed in” view of selected generation sources to the GB electricity grid for the month of March 2023 (up to 8:30 GMT today, the 11th).

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 9:31 am


Could you explain to this simpleton, how it’s possible to produce wind turbines or solar panels without using fossil fuels?


Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 11, 2023 9:47 am


The UK has 28 GW of wind power. Last year all those wind turbines managed to produce 8.72 GW.

At £1,000.000 / MW the cost to the UK taxpayer is £28,000,000,000

And in return, we’ve got an unreliable grid that can’t survive without coal and gas

It’s madness to defend wind turbines.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 173735.jpg
CD in Wisconsin
March 10, 2023 12:27 pm

“Two old coal-fired power plants have begun generating again as the UK expects to see its coldest night of the year so far. “

Oh the pain of listening to the environmentalists and green energy activists instead of scientists and engineers. While I acknowledge that old coal fired plants from the 1960s probably are indeed due to be shut down and replaced, replacing them with the wrong energy source with no history of successfully displacing fossil fuels on a large scale will only get you an unwanted barrel full of troubles.

Doubling down on those wrong energy sources is the height of scientific and engineering illiteracy, and the real tragedy is when politicians are not made to account for it.

March 10, 2023 12:36 pm

I love the way it is worded that old coal fired power plants will be started up. Coal fired power plants take a while to warm up and come on line. This is very inefficient and will add more dreaded CO2 to the environment. Then, most likely, they will operate at a lower load than design, more inefficiency, and more CO2. Then the shut down after a few days of operation will add even more of the dreaded CO2.

Reply to  GMan
March 10, 2023 2:04 pm

will add more dreaded CO2 to the environment

“Let a thousand flowers bloom”

Iain Reid
Reply to  GMan
March 10, 2023 11:56 pm


that is common knowledge if you understand such technology, I don’t think politicians know or even care. The U.K. has had coal power running for much of 2022 and since the start of 2023.
Not alot but there isn’t much left unfortunately.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Iain Reid
March 11, 2023 5:51 am

If we were running the system on real economics coal would have been flat out in baseload throughout. The current cost is around £50/MWh for the aged plants, and even less for the modern MPP3 that feeds the BritNed connector – around £37/MWh. Prices that wind cannot compete at – the AR4 wind farms, whose CFDs are now worth around £50/MWh are now not likely to proceed without some further backdoor subsidy.

March 10, 2023 1:09 pm

And no doubt there are MPs still queueing up to press the detonator button to gleefully blow up the remaining coal generators. I would call them fools, but that’s far to kind.

Last edited 2 months ago by ilma630
John V. Wright
March 10, 2023 1:27 pm

I live in the U.K. Eric and I can tell you that we are truly governed by scientific ignoramuses. And it’s even worse than that. Because the Opposition have exactly the same beliefs – I use the term advisedly – about manmade global warming. So there is no escape. There is a relatively new political party called Reform which is pursuing a sceptical line but they have just 10% of the vote…virtually useless in a FPTP system. But I will vote for them anyway at the next General Election. We all have to do whatever we can to bring sanity back into our governments.

Steve Richards
March 10, 2023 1:31 pm

I was watching the grid performance on gridwatch at that time. It showed that wind had dropped to 2.8% and coal was running at 3%.
All interconnectors were running at their individual maximum.
We only just made it through.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Steve Richards
March 10, 2023 4:21 pm

And just think what would have happened during that period if there had been a disturbance on the system.

And remember this: If not for significant demand side management (rationing) you would not have made it through. And this is not even considering the loss of industrial load over the decades because of excessive energy prices and punitive regulations.

All of this because of hysterical fearmongering by the intersectional activists and crony capitalists profiteers riding the CliSciFi bandwagon along with venal politicians, Leftist Deep State bureaucrats and uncaring media. FJB and FLeftists.

Reply to  Dave Fair
March 10, 2023 8:58 pm

Disturbance? Like a mysterious underwater explosion severing the gas line from Norway or the undersea high voltage DC cables? How likely is that?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Fair
March 11, 2023 6:33 am

“Loss of industrial load”.

Industrial use of electricity in the UK has declined by 20% since 2000 yet because of unreliables generation has had to increase by 20GW and they are building a further 40GW in the North Sea.

March 10, 2023 1:32 pm

Wind and solar are not a substitute for fossil fuel and nuclear. Wake up! All coal plants should be upgraded and used, all nuclear plants should be up graded and used, more nuclear plants should be built, all gas plants should be upgraded and used more gas plants should be built. Most all wind and solar should be removed from the grid, all construction on wind and solar should be halted and no future wind and solar should be built unless someone is building it for themselves, on their own dime and not expecting to connect to the grid. All home solar should be disallowed from connecting to the grid. The grid is complicated enough and can be compromised enough without the burden of wind and solar.

Gilbert K. Arnold
March 10, 2023 8:24 pm

@Bob… I whole heartedly agree with you…Wind & solar should only be used for personal situations, and should not ever be connected to the grid

March 10, 2023 9:06 pm

I wonder how easy it’ll be to return to service 1GW worth of 60 year old wind turbines.

March 10, 2023 10:56 pm

And Australia is heading down the same path. Russia is blowing up Ukrainian power stations while we are blowing up our own. The ideological renewable madness continues.

Coeur de Lion
March 11, 2023 6:32 am

Not ‘turbines’ please. Sounds modern and technical. ‘Windmills’. Dutch, 17th century. More appropriate

March 11, 2023 9:35 am
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