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Wind Power Down To 0.6% Today

October 31, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




The UK is sat under a large high pressure system today, one which is forecast to last all week. And, as always happens, the wind drops away to next to nothing.

In the last 24 hours, consequently, wind power has contributed only 0.9% to the grid, and is currently running at even less. Fortunately, coal and gas are still supplying 63.8%.


According to the Dept of Business/OFGEM, we have generation capacity of 73 GW, but this includes 14.3 GW of wind. (According to them solar power is not relevant to security of electricity supply during winter peak.) This also includes the Contingency Balancing Reserve of 3.5 GW. Note that coal still offers 12.8 GW. 




Given that they say that peak demand is around 61 GW in winter, we will need every bit of that fossil fuel capacity if we experience similar weather then.

With a bit of help from interconnectors, we will probably just about muddle through, but could somebody please tell me how we will manage in years to come when we will not even be allowed to burn gas? 


I’ll finish with this graph from the National Grid’s Winter Review 2016, which speaks for itself:



  1. October 31, 2016 11:50 am

    The French are having problems with their nuclear fleet, so we cannot rely on the interconnectors to the continent. Get your generator ready for the cold snaps in winter.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      October 31, 2016 11:52 am

      Beat me to it.

  2. A C Osborn permalink
    October 31, 2016 11:52 am

    Paul, don’t be so sure about the Interconnectors, French Nuclear is having major problems with “maintenance & safety check” issues at the moment.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 31, 2016 2:45 pm

      Indeed so: the interconnectors have been contributing to grid instability during October, and we’ve even seen the French at maximum import from the UK on several occasions.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 31, 2016 2:46 pm

        Click on chart for a better view.

  3. October 31, 2016 11:55 am

    What we need is dispatchable warm fronts and cold fronts.

  4. October 31, 2016 12:12 pm

    In assessing future availability of plant I wonder if any allowance has been made for plant-life reduction due to excessive cycling. The GTCCs are designed for a lot of cycles, but would expect considerable shortening of life for all the plant that is being required to cycle frequently due to the low availability (really reliability) of wind generation. The annual maintenance costs of the GTCCs are much higher than they used to be from what I can see due to cycling and they are still fairly young in power plant terms.

    Unreliable generators used to be penalised for the extra generating costs that they caused: they are now, stupidly, rewarded!

  5. Graeme No.3 permalink
    October 31, 2016 12:37 pm

    Perhaps the answer would be to link MP’s pay to the generation by wind farms? A week or two getting only 0.6% of their normal rate might focus their minds on the variability of wind.

  6. October 31, 2016 1:28 pm

    And for the first time in at least 5 years the monthly percentage of electricity generated by Gas (CCGT) will top 50%. Highlighting the UK’s reliance on gas imports.

  7. October 31, 2016 2:48 pm

    The academic cheerleader squad for Wind Power has a response to these wind lulls: wind chill, the notion being that it is wind chill that causes the extreme cold that results in extreme demands. It sounds like a brilliant marketing ploy by Big Wind, but I’m sceptical, apart from during blizzards, which are very rare.

    The Met Office knows about another effect, such as in this summary of the winter weather of January 2009:

    1st to 10th January 2009: High pressure covered the UK and much of Europe. Across England, there were variable amounts of cloud, but also clear or sunny spells. With very little wind, temperatures were able to fall away very quickly under clear skies to bring some unusually severe frosts

    More on that particular winter:

  8. Jan_Vermeer permalink
    October 31, 2016 5:06 pm

    Same here a few hundred km’s East across the North Sea in the Netherlands. Beautifull quite day, very good for lots of biking. Good day for a bit Solar , at least for a couple of hours.

  9. Wellers permalink
    November 1, 2016 7:55 am

    Two weeks ago (Tuesday 18 November) the Channel Tunnel was shut down for ‘technical reasons’ and a number of shuttles and Eurostar trains were cancelled. No explanation was given but I later heard that the French electricity grid was unstable due to power shortages. A friend of mine in Belgium manages the grid reserves for Elia (their National Grid) and his organisation brought on multiple backup diesel generators in hospitals, etc. and paid high consumers to shut down. He said the main reason was to support the French grid which was having difficulties due to nuclear power outages and insufficient wind power.

    Perhaps this also explains the large interconnecter loads required from the UK?

  10. November 1, 2016 5:21 pm

    ‘Windfarms and solar power could soon lose the privilege of getting priority over other energy sources on European electricity grids, leaked documents show.’ – says The Guardian

  11. Gamecock permalink
    November 1, 2016 6:49 pm

    ‘The UK is sat under a large high pressure system today, one which is forecast to last all week. And, as always happens, the wind drops away to next to nothing.’

    NEVER forget this. When people claim storage is the answer to intermittency, remind them of no wind for a week. Storage fixes nothing, for a very high price.

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