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Wind Power Down To 0.1%

January 20, 2016


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%


ScreenHunter_3455 Jan. 19 17.32

ScreenHunter_3461 Jan. 19 22.46


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.

  1. January 20, 2016 2:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    The futility and inherent danger of our wind powered future laid bare.

    • Adrian permalink
      January 20, 2016 4:03 pm

      Well I would suggest all customers of ‘green’ lekky, ecotricity etc., are the first to be cut off when the power supply drops below their ‘share’.

      Surely if they truly believe they’ll be prepared to accept such minor inconveniences in the name of the ‘greater good’. After all to do otherwise must be hypocrisy.

      • ralfellis permalink
        January 21, 2016 9:55 am

        Yup, always said this.

        There should be a box on your electric bill saying “tick here if you believe in wind and solar energy”. And then every time there is no insolation or wind, you cut off those customers. Then lets see how many true believers there are out there.

  2. January 20, 2016 2:52 pm

    A lot of open fires going to need opening up, and candles, lots of candles.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      January 20, 2016 6:19 pm

      From my childhood I can recommend Aladdin Lamps which provide heating as well as lighting. The only problem would be obtaining a few winters worth of paraffin.

      Not sure if they are still available in the UK.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        January 20, 2016 8:04 pm

        The last time I saw paraffin on sale it was actually MORE expensive than petrol! However, camping supplier Coleman do a “multifuel” lantern which “Operates off unleaded petrol or Coleman® Liquid Fuel”

        They are a long established company, but the thought of a white hot mantle just inches away from a tank of pressurised petrol does rather worry me…

      • January 20, 2016 8:36 pm

        I remember when the telly used to start slipping up and down, when the voltage dropped!

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        January 20, 2016 9:42 pm

        You could always try jet fuel, or kerosene as supplied to most domestic oil fired systems (Aga and boiler). The key spec for a lamp is smoke point (and perhaps flash point) – but almost all kerosene supplied will meet jet specifications, which is more that adequate for illuminating paraffin. These days it’s too much hassle for refiners to dedicate tankage to small volume products which don’t need to have the Jet A1 -47C freeze point specification. The chief issue is dyeing to indicate rate of duty paid/not paid when the product leaves the refinery.

      • January 21, 2016 8:13 am

        Bom Bom Bom Bom, ESSO Blue! – I seem to remember

  3. January 20, 2016 2:55 pm

    At least with the closure of the UK steel industry that will be putting less demand on supply.

    • bit chilly permalink
      January 20, 2016 3:48 pm

      along with many closures of industrial ceramic and powder metal manufacturing plants during the last recession that reduced supply on gas.
      the problem is the amo is now going cold, as will subsequent winters. this current weather is still mild compared to what have had in the past. those in charge of energy supply would do well to remember this.

      it may well be a few weeks of us all freezing due to loss of supply in the uk is required as the catalyst to end the current madness. when people start burning politicians to keep warm, it may make them take notice of our concerns.

  4. NeilC permalink
    January 20, 2016 4:02 pm

    “But the immediate priority is to manage our way through the next few years.”

    Yes, but does the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change know what to do?

  5. January 20, 2016 4:38 pm

    and since Holland is going to close down (brandnew clean) coal plants to reach the holy target of co2 reduction in favor of windfarms that part of Hollands export will be changed to import. That combined with the natural gas fields being depleted soon Holland will have consumer prices per kW/h like those of Denmark. Furthermore France has committed to shut down nukes in favor of wind/solar also France’s export will be wildly variable. Good luck UK, you’ll need it

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 20, 2016 8:02 pm

      Since the Maasvlatke coal plants are effectively the supply source for the BritNed interconnector, it means the UK will probably end up providing power to the Dutch – or we will have a reverse Dutch Auction for the privilege of who suffers blackouts.

    • January 21, 2016 8:21 am

      Funny you mention Holland, can this really be true?

      42% wind power for the year and we are looking at single digits. Seems like some creative accounting here. Mind you I am always sceptical of IFLS (never approved of the “F”).

      • ralfellis permalink
        January 21, 2016 10:05 am

        Creative accounting.

        The following report says that in 2005 Denmark was using NONE of its wind power, because it was too destabilising for the grid. So wind accounted for 16% of production (at that time) but none of it was being used domestically – it was all being exported to Scandinavia and Germany.

        I see no reason why this would have changed. Imagine 42% of power switching on and off at a whim. How does any generating and grid system cope with that? Scandinavia can, of course, because it can switch hydro off in an instant. And Denmark has to sell its wind power at a loss, which makes it cheap for the Scandis (and Danish electricity the most expensive in Europe).


      • January 21, 2016 11:12 am


        So are you saying it is producing “the equivalent” of 42% of it requirements, without actually using it? How would we go about reporting that?
        What do they use as actual supply?

      • January 21, 2016 11:39 am

        BP also show about 42% for wind power share in 2014. But here’s the rub, that only amounts to 13.2 TWh.

        In the UK, wind output was 31.6 TWh. The amounts that Denmark produces are just chicken feed in the overall view of things, and can easily be absorbed by Germany who uses 614 TWh. Similarly when the wind does not blow, Germany can supply Denmark.

      • ralfellis permalink
        January 21, 2016 4:43 pm

        >>the equivalent” of 42% of it requirements,
        >>without actually using it?

        Probably. I will have to look for newer data. But according to that 2005 report, the interconnector flows matched wind generation. See the graph reproduced there. So although they were not admitting it, all the wind energy was being exported, while the nation used traditional fossil fuel backups.


  6. January 20, 2016 4:39 pm

    Thanks for the report, Paul.
    I hope the idea of “more wind mills are necessary” will not be favored.

  7. January 20, 2016 4:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Petrossa's Blog.

  8. January 20, 2016 5:29 pm

    Also worth noting that National Grid’s short-term forecasting was, not unusually, wildly adrift (by round about 1,000MW) for most of the day before.

    See BM reports graph on

  9. David Richardson permalink
    January 20, 2016 6:28 pm

    I don’t know what you are all worrying about.

    The idea is that we go easy on the planet and go back to living like they did in the 18th century. What do you need lekky for???!!!

    You folks will just have to do without……………well, anything at all.

  10. January 20, 2016 7:31 pm

    You mention the “priority of managing our way through the next few years”. If management was occurring at the higher levels of the civil service, there would be accountability; there is none apparent.

    The coal power stations could be burning the cheap oil and helping the economy massively if it were not for the “power of belief in the proven science” that dominates all thinking in the governing elite.

  11. Dave Ward permalink
    January 20, 2016 7:55 pm

    “Generation from wind farms dropped to a paltry 72 MW”

    It actually went lower – at 21:30 it bottomed out at just 50MW!

  12. Don Keiller permalink
    January 20, 2016 8:40 pm

    Don’t worry those nice, clean STOR diesel generators will take up the slack:-)

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 20, 2016 9:26 pm

      I think they probably got pressed into service to meet the demand from the interconnectors – see below.

  13. It doesn't add up... permalink
    January 20, 2016 8:52 pm

    You need to keep a watch on those interconnectors. The UK spent most of today supplying 1.5GW to France. Compared with the assumption that we could get 2GW from there to keep our lights on, the 4.5GW turnaround (3GW import in the small hours to 1.5GW export around 4p.m. to meet their rush hour peak) is even worse than going from typical wind output to zero, or losing all trains at Drax. We’re importing the continental problems of no wind and no sun alongside our own.

    • ralfellis permalink
      January 21, 2016 6:36 pm

      Interesting. I presume we were buying cheap French day-time power, to recharge the Dinorwig pumped storage system.


  14. Wusssr permalink
    January 20, 2016 9:37 pm

    YEW FOOLS! Don’t Cha Know? Global Warming’s responsible for that dead-of-winter North Atlantic hurricane, earth’s cooling trend, recent earthquakes, tsunamis, frozen Thames, droughts, tornadoes, dust devils, rampant winds tumbling tumble weeds across parched landscapes, torrential rains, volcanic eruptions, snarling snow leopards terrorizing villages, towns tidal-waved by melting glaciers, polar bears paddling the Gulf of Mexico, and Swine Flu.

    SHAME, SHAME on that hacker and those independent climate scientists who debunked and broke the global warming hockey stick over Oscar Al and his Nobel pal’s heads as they tried to run a global warming scam on the world in Copenhagen. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, you deniers! Global warming IS a scourge that MUST. . .BE. . .ERADICATED! Like the GREAT EBOLA BOOGEYMAN on his pale horse and exploding populations and starving hoards with spoon and bowl in search of genetically modified gruel and something to buy it with. YEW FOOLS! The world would be a better place if you would only listen to your IPCCs, AGWs, NGOs, WHOs, FAOs, MSMs, EPA’s, WTOs, PPs, TPP’s, POOs, and their clairvoyant fear mongering associates.

    BY ANY MEANS we got to shut down those coal fired power plants using an infinite supply of the cheapest energy fuel known. BETTER WE USE RADIATION to boil water to run generators to generate electricity. The boys at the rising sun will tell ya that and this whole “debate” could be moot before Fukaoshit! is over. Solar? Wind? You’d have to cover America with bird blenders. AND DISREGARD the fact they kill about a million a year including endangered whatevers. . .NOT TO WORRY THOUGH. . . they’ll always be robins to throw in the stew pot. CLEAN. . .ENERGY. . .WORKS! All you have to do is disregard Tesla’s research and the hydrogen-to-energy confirmation sitting in the vaults and just COVER THE GROUND in between the bird blenders with solar panels and lease Canada to extend the project and even that wouldn’t come close to supplying North America’s nor the world’s energy needs and did you know there’s no such thing as peak oil? THAT’S RIGHT! . . . EARTH REPRODUCES ITS OWN OIL. Can you say A-BIOTIC OIL?

    Peak oil, like global warming, pandemics, WMD’s, police training exercises every time there’s a Sandy Hoax shooting, A-RAB terrorists that swooped in on America on 9-11 (right area of the world, wrong terrorists) were all pulled from the same flim-flamer’s hat.

    Beam. . .me. . .up. . .Scottie.

    (A repost)

  15. AndyG55 permalink
    January 20, 2016 10:47 pm

    I wonder what will happen when a new US president says “no” to chopping down American forests to feed wood pellets to Drax?

    Sure as heck the green, environmental, dumbocrats won’t stop it.

  16. Brian H permalink
    January 21, 2016 4:08 am

    Just recycle your breadcrumbs! Save the wheat!

  17. Ian Wilson permalink
    January 21, 2016 8:44 am

    Anyone know how much engineering would be involved in converting coal power stations to oil? If low oil prices are killing our North Sea industry and many others it seems a way of both giving low cost electricity and helping our producers.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 21, 2016 9:29 am

      Oil firing requires heated tanks to store the oil (Heavy Fuel Oil is used in power stations), a means of delivery (pipeline from refinery is preferred, then rail – avoid expensive trucking), and a complete redesign of the burners and boilers, flue stacks, steam circuit and probably the steam turbines too (a different pressure/temperature regime). In short, more or less a completely new power station.

  18. ralfellis permalink
    January 21, 2016 9:51 am

    And I presume that this wind-outage occurred during a period of cold weather, as it always does (in anticyclonic conditions). So just when you need the power the most, the wind goes on strike. Perhaps you should rename wind power as ‘tube drivers’…. 😉

  19. Ian Wilson permalink
    January 21, 2016 10:36 am

    Thank you ‘it doesn’t add up’ for the explanation. It sounds as though it would be a lemon to convert but I wonder if the same was true of changing Drax to wood pellets.

  20. ralfellis permalink
    January 21, 2016 6:32 pm

    Danish wind energy.

    The Danish wind report I highlighted above indicated that most of the Danish wind electricity was exported via interconnectors.

    This still appears to be happening. The figures for 2014 electrical exports to Scandinavia and Germany are: (proportion of wind generation)

    Q 1 74%. Q 2 87%. Q 3 83%. Q 4 66%.

    This is presuming that wind over-production is the main reason for exporting electricity. Since the report does not include a “wind production vs interconnector flow” graph, this is an assumption but a likely one. (See the report below.)

    It has been claimed that these energy flows are merely storage of electricity, by using Nordic hydro as a storage medium (most of the inflows come back from Scandinavia). However, if Denmark is exporting when wind is plentiful you can bet that the spot-price for electricity will be at a minimum. So this storage system involves: exporting energy cheaply, and buying back at a much higher cost. That does not sound like good economics to me.

    Wind Power.

    While the quoted renewable electrical generation factor is high, much of this is biomass. The 2014 figures are:

    Renewables 46%. Of this, Wind and solar 34%, and biomass 12%.

    But when you take all energy usage into consideration, much of which is for heating and transport, the share taken by renewables and wind shrinks considerably.

    Renewables 20%. Of this, Wind and solar 6%, and biomass 14%.
    And 50% of that biomass is imported.

    So if Denmark wants to go fully renewable, including heating and transport and all the other usages, it still has a long way to go. This is what proponents of electric cars often fail to realise – that total electrical generation must double to account for transport usage.


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