Skip to content

The European Blackout Risk

November 24, 2016

By Paul Homewood  




Roger Andrews has an interesting post today at Euan’s site:


At 2000 hours Central European Time on February 8, 2012 combined electricity demand in the UK, France and Germany peaked at a high of 231GW during a winter cold snap. This caused no serious problems at the time, but the UK, France and Germany could have a combined total of as little as 210GW of capacity on-line this winter, and if another 231GW demand peak coincides with 210GW of available capacity the alternatives will be either large-scale “demand side” management (i.e. paying lots of industries and businesses to shut down) or blackouts.

In this post we will look at how these conclusions were arrived at and also at some of the uncertainties that make it so hard to predict blackout risks. The chief uncertainties in this case are a) how cold might it get, b) will the wind be blowing when and if it does get cold, c) how much of the French nuclear fleet will be down for inspection at the time and d) how many French households will turn their electric heaters up to “high”, as many of them did in 2012.


The full post is here.


My personal view, like Roger’s is we will muddle through this winter, as there are still plenty of rabbits to pull from hats.

But what I really found striking was this table:



Bear in mind that these are installed and not de-rated capacities. In other words, they assume 100% capacity utilisation, hence Roger’s estimate that we might only have 210GW of capacity available.

But the real question is what will we all do when all three countries have eventually shut down coal and oil capacity? 

  1. HotScot permalink
    November 24, 2016 5:16 pm

    Invest in chainsaws, lots of them. There will be a run on them soon. Rent them out, take payment in wood, then sell the wood, being careful to keep plenty for yourself.

    See, from adversity comes opportunity.

  2. November 24, 2016 5:30 pm

    Well I have a generator and my log stores are full. I will get lots more fuel for the generator and make sure the pantry and freezers are full.

    • treghotel permalink
      November 25, 2016 3:30 pm

      What would you advise on type of generator as I am seriously thinking f having one installed.Mt email is just in case I dont come back on this site for a few days.
      Michael Hurley

  3. tom0mason permalink
    November 24, 2016 7:20 pm

    When I first read Roger Andrews piece my first thoughts were in 4 short years Europe (including UK) had managed to destroy 21GWatt of capacity without the customer load changing that much.
    At that rate in 40 years the EU market in candles and firewood will be booming.

    Europe is more interconnected now but say France’s planned nuclear inspection that are running now don’t run to time (France is currently running about 10GW lower than normal). What if they over-run due to inspections finding problems? (see

    What are these fools playing at, they are gambling with people’s lives that the peak-loads will be reduced by 21GWatts in 4 years and that unreliables can fill the gap.
    I wonder what are the book odds on that happening this winter?

  4. November 24, 2016 8:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  5. November 25, 2016 1:37 am

    See my comment there. UK is greatest at blackout risk, for several reasons.

  6. Gerry, England permalink
    November 25, 2016 1:58 pm

    I am not sure that there are many rabbits left to pull out. There is the fleet of diesels waiting to fire up and produce hugely expensive power. There are the back up generators that businesses may have – diesel again. But what else? The grid is so fragile that an interconnector failure at the wrong time, a power station problem and there really is so little left in reserve.

  7. November 25, 2016 11:06 pm

    In South Australia they call reliance on renewables ‘a technical challenge’. Bill payers may think ‘bad joke’ is a better description.

    Australia Has Serious Problems With Green Energy Triggering Blackouts
    Read more:

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: