Wind Power Down To 0.1%
By Paul Homewood
At 5pm yesterday, electricity generation from wind farms dropped to a paltry 72 MW, just 0.1% of total demand of 52.1 GW.
The 24-hour period up to 10.30 pm was little better, averaging just 0.3%
Fortunately there is still enough gas and coal- fired capacity to fill the gap, but, as the Center for Policy Studies reported last year, this reserve capacity is becoming increasingly tight.
With coal power station closures already announced for this year, dispatchable capacity will drop to 61.6 GW. However, this reflects then nameplate capacity, which needs to be derated to allow for the likely operational effectiveness.
Assuming a figure of 85% for this, we will be down to 52.3 GW.
Under the Capacity Market Auction, the government has 49 GW of derated capacity contracted for 2018, the first year of the scheme, and 51 GW the year after. Even with 3 GW from the interconnectors with France and Holland, this is still dangerously tight. In any event, while interconnectors are fine for teeming and ladling and helping to keep prices down by making supply more flexible, it is surely foolish to rely on these in emergencies.
Apart from anything else, it was not extremely cold yesterday, and it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where demand exceeds 52 GW.
We are continually told that wind power does not need 100% back up capacity, but it is becoming increasingly clear that we do. Meanwhile solar power, according to DECC statistics, produces at less than 5% of capacity in Q1, and even less in January, so is utterly irrelevant at this time of year.
We certainly need to replace every bit of lost coal-fired capacity with gas-fired, as coal plants come to the end of their lives in the next few years, and there is no sign of that happening yet.
But the immediate priority is to manage our way through the next few years.