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Renewables could lose European power grid priority, documents reveal

November 1, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Joe Public/Oldbrew




From the Guardian:


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

Paring back the “priority dispatch” system could increase carbon emissions by up to 10%, according to a confidential EU impact assessment seen by the Guardian. But the document goes on to model four scenarios for doing just that, in a bid to make Europe’s energy generators more flexible and cost-competitive.

Some industry sources have told the Guardian they are alarmed and think it highly likely that priority dispatch for clean energy will be scrapped from the EU’s renewable energy directive, which is currently being redrafted for the post-2020 period.

Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the WindEurope trade association, said: “Removing priority dispatch for renewable energies would be detrimental to the wind sector, which would face more curtailment across the continent. It also seems to be at odds with Europe’s plans to decarbonise and increase renewables penetration over the next decade.”

“Investors took priority dispatch into account when projecting revenues in the original investment decisions, and it could have a bearing on existing projects if they are not protected from the change.”


As I have often pointed out, giving renewables priority access to markets is just another form of subsidy, and it is little surprise that wind lobbyists are furious, nor that the Guardian is wholeheartedly supporting them.

Individual countries work in different ways. In the UK, it is the system of ROCs and strike prices which effectively enable renewable operators to sell all of their output. This is because they can, if necessary, sell at a penny per MWh, and thereby undercut other generators, safe in the knowledge that they will still receive the value of the ROC or the guaranteed strike price.


The biggest joke is that the wind industry is now asking for access to capacity markets, to ensure a “level playing field”! Has it not occurred to them that the whole point of the capacity market is to pay generators to provide standby capacity in order to cover for intermittent renewables?

How can they possibly guarantee that the wind will be blowing when their capacity is actually needed?

  1. November 1, 2016 8:32 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    Is the EU seeing sense at last?

  2. Joe Public permalink
    November 1, 2016 9:22 pm

    Oh the irony (naturally not mentioned by the Grauniad):

    Maroš Šefčovic, the EU’s vice-president in charge of energy union:

    “In some countries you have priority dispatch for renewables, but in some countries you have priority dispatch for coal, and other sources of energy,” he said. “We have to look for ways how we can introduce more competition into the energy supply.”

    Maybe the EU ain’t that bad after all 😉

  3. November 1, 2016 9:32 pm

    There’s nothing clean about wind and solar power. They pollute the countryside.

  4. Phil O'Sophist permalink
    November 1, 2016 10:32 pm

    This all total bollox (and I’m sure at least 97% of readers will agree!)
    I’m not a Power Systems Engineer, per se, but a (retired) Civil Engineer who spent 1/2 his life associated with power-plant, and I understand the lingo at a ‘101’ Level.
    Grid-reliability underpins a modern society. So, surely, Priority Dispatch must primarily go to sources available 24/365 with a high degree of confidence, and AT THE CHEAPEST PRICE.
    It seems to me that recent policy has been to advance Renewable Energy sources to the primary ‘go-to’ pole-position … “Renewables get absorbed to the max., beyond which we turn to …………???” Yes, well — what? 24/365 plants spinning in reserve for when (not if) renewable energy peaks-out. Nota bene that these spinning reserves can produce kWhours at a fraction of the cost of Renewables (on full-cost accounting)!!
    So assume a scenario of dead-winter in Europe: demand high, solar supply pathetic (given short, dark, stormy, wintry days) and wind as ‘Will o’ the wisp’ and unreliable as always.
    For any lay-person with two brain synapses to rub together, here’s the stark-staring truth: AT BEST, RENEWABLE ENERGY IS A MARGINAL PRODUCER, NOT A ‘PRIORITY DISPATCH’ RESOURCE. To think otherwise is ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ stuff.

  5. November 1, 2016 10:54 pm

    An outbreak of sanity- surely not?

  6. November 1, 2016 11:35 pm

    Wind and solar should be treated as distributed generators, simply reducing demand when they can on the proper power stations connected to the main grid. That simple design would spoil the massive gravy train that many are salivating over (probably including National grid), in which umpteen tiny generators get priority and special-needs status, including a pass mark of zero in the exams.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    November 2, 2016 3:42 am

    No doubt Gummer, aka Lord Deben, will rallying the troops.
    Hopefully all the lord’s horses and all the lord’s men can not put this boondoggle’s pieces back together again.

  8. AlecM permalink
    November 2, 2016 8:45 am

    The answer is simple: renewables’ companies contracts must have a minimum supply requirement so that it’s these companies which must fund despatchable generation. Then make that despatchable generation have a minimum thermodynamic efficiency with real fuel consumption data to prove it.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      November 2, 2016 10:38 am

      An eminently logical idea, Alec, and therefore not about to be applied by our lords and masters any time soon.

      It’s so perfect it is almost surprising no-one thought of it in the first place. A modern society is built in the principle of guaranteed energy supply. If you are going to give priority to sources which by their nature are not guaranteed (for whatever reason) then it is the responsibility of those sources to buy in supplies from stand-by generators when they are unable to meet demand. They are, after all, best placed to know when additional capacity is needed.

      Then watch Unreliables either survive in a competitive market or go bust. Since we are now being told that wind is competitive with other forms of generation there shouldn’t be a problem, should there?

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    November 2, 2016 12:07 pm

    If you put your money into the fickle world of a subsidised industry you have to be aware that those cash taps can be turned off quite suddenly.

    Maybe the solution if for all renewable providers be required to provide the whole package to ensure 24/7 power. Yes, you can build the windmills but you must build the back up as well. Then they can absorb the costs of thermal generating plant being kept at operating temperature in case it is needed.

    Wind currently delivering 2GW from 13.5GW capacity. Wherever the wind is it is not in the south-east.

  10. Edmonton Al permalink
    November 2, 2016 12:15 pm

    Carbon emissions… carbon emissions.. endless references to carbon emissions.
    There is NO empirical proof that CO2 released by burning fossil fuels is causing global warming., hence catastrophic climate change.
    In fact, the GHG Theory has been debunked.
    As an aside, tell me why, if 0.04% of CO2 can “trap heat” in our atmosphere, why do we not put 100% CO2 in our all-weather windows?
    The space between the panes has an inert gas, because it is economically exorbitant to have a vacuum as a Thermos bottle has.
    According to GHG Theory the 100% CO2 would reduce heat loss of your house to a very low level.
    That is totally absurd.

  11. Graeme No.3 permalink
    November 2, 2016 4:13 pm

    There is a question about how much renewables reduce CO2 emissions. Consider or if you prefer

    The question is, of course, how much does a combined renewables + backups reduce CO2 emissions? Since the sun doesn’t shine at night nor the wind blow all the time, it isn’t possible to have a 100% renewables system, so the revised & only question is only the first. The second is: if renewables don’t deliver CO2 emission ‘why bother with them?’.

  12. November 2, 2016 4:16 pm

    “We have to look for ways how we can introduce more competition into the energy supply.”

    So say the dimwits who undermined that competition years ago, by insisting on priority for the intermittent power output of renewables aka unreliables.

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