UK Falls Back On Coal And Gas Plants To Keep The Lights On
By Paul Homewood
National Grid will pay £122m to keep fossil fuel plants on standby
Contracts worth £122m to keep coal and gas-fired power stations on standby will help Britain avoid electricity blackouts this winter, National Grid has forecast, highlighting the difficulties facing the UK as it attempts to wean its power sector off fossil fuels.
The UK’s electricity system operator forecast that the margin between supply and demand over the course of the winter would be 6.6 per cent, an increase of almost 30 per cent on last year’s cushion and wider than a provisional forecast made in July.
However, without measures to ensure the availability of back-up generating capacity when regular supplies run low, the margin this winter would be close to record lows at 1.1 per cent, according to National Grid’s annual Winter Outlook.
National Grid will pay for 10 coal and gas-fired plants to keep spare capacity on standby, with further sums to be paid if they are called into action. These include coal plants at Eggborough in Yorkshire and Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire that had previously been earmarked for closure.
The dependence on fossil fuels to guarantee energy security during the winter months highlights the challenge facing the UK government as it seeks to phase out coal-fired power by 2025 in pursuit of aggressive carbon reduction goals.
Meanwhile, the laughably titled “Energy Analyst”, from Richard Black’s renewables propganda unit, claims that paying to keep coal power stations on standby proves we can do without fossil fuel powered power stations:
Jonathan Marshall, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said the operator’s Winter Outlook shows that the UK continues “to have a reliable electricity system” as it goes through this “period of transition”.
He added: “The 6.6% margin is comfortably within National Grid’s statutory requirements from the government, up by nearly 30% on last year’s margin. It shows how the segue from old, fossil fuel powered power stations to a system based on renewables and increased flexibility is taking place without the need for large capacity surpluses, which represent wasted investment.”
The Energy News Live news site also reports:
Jon Ferris, Strategy Director at Utilitywise said: “Coverage of National Grid’s Winter Outlook report rightly highlights that the actions they have taken have increased capacity margins over last year.
“However, the fact that wholesale prices for winter have risen to £60/MWh from a low of £36/MWh just a few months ago has been largely ignored. Consumers face a lower risk of blackouts, but this has come at a significant cost.”