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Close To The Bone!

November 29, 2016

By Paul Homewood




This is the UK grid status at 6pm today.

Demand is close to going into the red. According the Gridwatch tag:


The amber warning represents the demand level that cannot be reliably met by wood or fossil burning, or nuclear generation, but must be augmented by imports, or unreliable intermittent renewable energy.


Note that coal, gas and nuclear are close to limits. Fortunately wind is still giving 2GW.

The 2GW French interconnector is running at around 1GW, but to make matters worse French demand is also pushing up against its limits:






I have said it before, and I will say it again – what the hell are we supposed to do in a few years time when we no longer have the 8GW currently being supplied by coal?

  1. November 29, 2016 6:15 pm

    Don’t worry Paul, smart meters will make it all turn out right;-)

  2. markl permalink
    November 29, 2016 6:45 pm

    Looks like the energy dominoes in Europe are beginning to fall. Hope it doesn’t impact people as great as I think it will.

  3. David Richardson permalink
    November 29, 2016 6:48 pm

    I have been researching my great grandparents in recent months – looks as though I might get a chance to live like them as well.

    This of course is what your deep greenie wants – us all to work in the fields 12 hours plus per day and live in the dark most of the winter. Candles were well beyond the means of the working people 200 years ago, except for a few minutes per evening.

    There are some who don’t see the end logic of their rose tinted dream, but there are those who realise and relish the likely reduction in population (not for them of course).

    • HotScot permalink
      November 29, 2016 9:51 pm

      I was having a ‘discussion’ with a ‘snowflake’ on the Guardian forum last night/today and his only desire was that everyone should be equal have equal rights, equal opportunities etc. I pointed out to him that Cuba was very equal, well, other than a select few, and that Castro was a murdering b’stard. Of course, he wouldn’t have that despite me telling him my late FIL knew both Fidel and his evil brother quite well having worked in Cuba with the UN. As an asides, he worked on agricultural projects and laid out 300 year plans, started the ball rolling, built factories, used the existing, very poor crops for products that could be sold (they weren’t edible crops and I can’t give too much detail) created employment etc. etc. Of course, the day after my FIL left, and unimaginable amounts of money had been spent, everything was left to wither on the vine (so to speak).

      Of course, none of this made any difference to the snowflake, he has a vision of global milk and honey, where no one is offended, no one is upset bay another’s behaviour no matter how unacceptable. His particular case was the gay community, who I have no problem with whatsoever, I have several gay friends and nicer people you couldn’t meet. But his was a ‘just give them whatever they want’ attitude, quite forgetting that Christians had built the UK (amongst others) over thousands of years, and didn’t accept gay proclivities. But that was somehow alien to him, not that I’m religious, but it doesn’t mean I don’t respect religion and its beliefs.

      But it seems acceptable to the snowflakes to let the minority rule the planet whilst the majority conform. Which brings me to my point, (sorry, a bit of a ramble) which is that the liberal left, and in particular, many of them with little life experience labour under the illusion that life is fair. Despite Communism, that perfect state of social fairness and justice, having been proven by the USSR, China and of course Cuba (not to forget N. Korea) being demonstrated as failed experiments, these fools exist in the LaLa land of everyone harmoniously working together, for the good of the state. It took global warfare to shake them out of their idealistic dream in the past, what will do it in the future?

      I can remember, vividly, when I was around 14 discussing with my mates, the merits, or otherwise, of Communism, Marxism and socialism. We dissected it for a few hours (and I’m surprised looking back that I could contribute I was so politically uninformed) and we rejected it as the daftest idea ever conceived.

      We have adults, circulating amongst us who can’t reach the intellectual heights of a daft 14 year old. And I’m sorry if there are socialists amongst us here, I really don’t want to offend, but it is becoming apparent to me that it’s the start of the slippery slope. And we are around one-third of the way down the slope right now, the environmental, GW and overall green debate being instrumental in this unbelievable blind rush to the Communist door.

      Why? To me, it’s quite simple. it’s abject laziness. Capitalism is tough, it takes a great deal of effort to support it. Some people win, some lose. But it has dragged mankind to more success in the last 50 years than has been demonstrated in the last 10,000. What successes have Communism in Cuba, N. Korea or the USSR demonstrated which wasn’t at the enormous expense of its citizens. But it’s easy to imagine that glorious nirvana, whilst it’s really tough to struggle with the realities of life.

      Most of us here are slightly older than normal ‘bloggers’ (I guess) but we are frequently accused of fascism, racism, stupidity, bigotry, and many more derogatory attitudes, but thankfully we do have the benefit of hindsight. It always makes me laugh when that term is quoted as an excuse for a cock up in industry or politics, perhaps they should have consulted their elders first.

      One last aside. My late FIL worked for 40 years with the UN on international agricultural programs from the Amazon, to Peru, Burmah to Rome. He didn’t think the greens, environmentalists and GW mob were crazy, he absolutely knew it. He was also decorated for his activities in the Middle East (again, no details as he’s too easy to identify) and his medal was sold,on his death, because his regiment couldn’t afford to insure it.

      The old bugger was no mug, he knew the greens were a threat to the planet many decades ago. I didn’t see eye to eye with the git, but on his professional life, he commands my immense respect.

      I am very grateful you sceptics exist. You inform me every day, you ask the questions that need to be asked, you challenge authority and you brook no excuse. You are witty, expressive, frequently fatalistic, informed, independent, courageous and inquiring. You all stand out from the crowd, not as rebels or activists, but as the voice of reason amongst hords of automatons.

      Sorry again for the ramble. I’ll have a beer now and then perhaps regret exposing myself as a twat.

      • Deej permalink
        November 30, 2016 11:43 am

        “Sorry again for the ramble. I’ll have a beer now and then perhaps regret exposing myself as a twat.”

        …not at all. I certainly benefited, and enjoyed, reading your comment. Although it did take me a few seconds to equate FIL to Father-in-Law!

      • Athelstan permalink
        November 30, 2016 3:07 pm

        A good ramble, perhaps your FIL – was part of the old school, you know devotion to duty and obligations, doing the right thing – even if you know it’s all total bollocks, and silence: keep your opinions to yersen.

        Now, these days, even if you’ve never left your mammies apron strings, or even if you have – snowflakes never truly leave the bosom – now do they?

        OH hell yes, wet behind the ears, “but Jezza said!” as if he has any idea!

        And damn it, do they know how to argue the toss but never on the point….all done, with absolutely no life experience, no real job, no clue, no idea of north unless Iphone tells it, gormless but full of sound and fury and a vacuum between the ears – that’s the worrying part, our children are just so badly educated if they have learned aught at all.

        A few years ago………………….

        I had an inkling of this, I was roped in arm twisted into a work colleagues hol [don’t get me wrong a couple of these lads were proper friends] – two week beer fest … Spain or somewhere or other. As luck is not a strong suit with me, of course….. I drew the short straw and got to share with a quiet lad and so I thought – well at least there’s that [quiet] and anyway he told me, “I can do some food!”
        It didn’t worry me, breakfast was served in the hotel and evening meals were to wash down the beer.

        So, there we are on the balcony on day one, splitting some tinnies with the lads – as you do and suddenly up pops roommate, and I quote; “does anyone know how to boil eggs!”

        I kid you not.

        The post modern kids, snowflake generation………….. go to university and are home every night and if they can’t do that – go home every weekend so that mommy can do the washing and stuff – innit, most of these snowflakes live in relative luxury through the week and I’ve seen at first hand some of their digs. I think back to my student days, our gaff was horrendous, luckily it was better than most but we didn’t go home for the weekend, we were having too much fun and not learning to rotate the cooking but doing food was expected – so you did, amazing what you can do with a bit of imagination, pasta, minced beef, potatoes and veg, the odd chicken too. Paying the bills the worst part and daddy and mommy never got to know the hardship of not being able to eat coz you spent all your grant on liquid refreshments.

        Three stone of monkey nuts, a shoebox in the middle of the road – notwithstanding.


      • HotScot permalink
        November 30, 2016 6:10 pm

        Thank you Deej (sorry for not clarifying the FIL bit) and Athelstan, your story made me laugh. We made sure my daughter knew how to cook before she went off to Uni. She was very popular……….For her cooking! 🙂

  4. November 29, 2016 6:56 pm

    There was a power cut in Soho, London on “Black Friday”, but I haven’t seen an explanation.

  5. November 29, 2016 6:57 pm

    The highest GB demand was 49.87 GW at 17:10, it will certainly go well above 50 GW in the likely colder weather to come, and wind will almost certainly drop well below 1 GW on some cold days. The GB grid cannot afford to lose even 1GW of dispatchable power, to compensate for that with wind would require the total wind capacity to at least DOUBLE.

    • Gamecock permalink
      November 30, 2016 12:33 am

      Yep, it’s still just November.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        November 30, 2016 1:52 pm

        And the French link has halved with 4 cables being damaged and not repaired until February.

  6. tom0mason permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:04 pm


    You may wish to see here in answer to why gas generators are running so hard…

    Reactor 1 (600 MW) of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland tripped at 09:00 on 22nd November whilst reactor 2 was on half load for refuelling. Since then Scotland has been dependent on electricity imports from England for every hour of every day peaking at 2552 MW at 20:00 on 23 Nov as the mercury plunged towards -5˚C. At that point, Scotland was dependent on England for half of its electricity. In the past, Scotland was always 100% reliant on home-grown power.

  7. Dave Ward permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:04 pm

    When I saw this post I checked again, and the frequency was 49.886Hz – the first time this winter I have seen it below 49Hz. It’s now picked up slightly, but that seems to indicate that the grid was struggling. What we don’t appear to be able to see is the state of STOR – as these are all (as far as I’m aware) connected to the local distribution network they will simply reduce the apparent demand. A while back Richard North rather arrogantly dismissed concerns about blackouts with claims that the Grid had several GW’s of STOR available.

    Further update: In the time it’s taken my aged fingers to bash this reply out, the frequency is now back to just over 50Hz, but clearly there must have been quite a surge in demand over the last 10-15 minutes.

    • tom0mason permalink
      November 29, 2016 7:22 pm

      I was watching ‘gridwatch’ about two and half hours ago (~16:30) when the demand quickly peaked to about 49.87GW. Prior to that the frequency was at about 50.11Hz in the space of 20 minutes or so it moved to about 48.85Hz and before the hour was up moved back to 49.98Hz. During that time I notice that the demand had reduce slightly to around 49.82GW as the frequency move back into stable territory. All through this gas generation has been knocking the red zone. After the load settled I notice that coal generation reduced but not the gas.

      Looks like they did a rapid load-shedding to stabilize the grid.

      • Green Sand permalink
        November 29, 2016 7:40 pm

        ‘…rapid load-shedding….’ sure looks that way. Sometime in the future it will be dripped out just how much of our hard earned will have been paid out for the ‘intensives’ to shut down. Along with another eye watering amount that will have been paid for STOR and the other old units that came to ‘the rescue’ Panto season has come around again!

      • tom0mason permalink
        November 29, 2016 7:50 pm

        Green Sand,

        You can just about see the spike on the CCGT graph (just) at about 16:40 then again around 17:00. The demand graph is much harder to see as the grid squares obscures it.

    • November 29, 2016 7:28 pm

      Richard North rather arrogantly dismissed concerns about blackouts with claims that the Grid had several GW’s of STOR available

      In this matter I would like to see RN shown to be in error….

      STOR is an engineering Elastoplast – a hiccup or several will see that off in short order.

      There is mothballed capacity ??

      • Gerry, England permalink
        November 30, 2016 1:59 pm

        The STOR is at least 3GW of fleets of diesel generators located adjacent to the grid somewhere. Richard or Christopher Booker commented on the planning applications that had been submitted for these a year or so ago. It also includes back-up generators that exist in factories, hospitals etc. There are some mothballed plant but there seemed a be delight in flattening coal stations as soon as they closed a la Didcot to stop them being reused. But the grid is certainly vulnerable to a failure somewhere taking out vital capacity.

    • November 30, 2016 12:04 am

      Richard North arrogant? Surely not! /sarc

  8. Bloke down the pub permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:28 pm

    The reason why the French interconnector is running at half power.

  9. Joe Public permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:32 pm

    Should the French need extra capacity, the 1GW we’re currently receiving via the Dutch interconnector could end up elsewhere.

  10. mwhite permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:33 pm

    “French interconnector at half capacity until end of February”

    Seems there was damage to the cables.

  11. tom0mason permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:44 pm

    Another good but not very ‘live’ monitoring site is National Grids —

  12. November 29, 2016 7:52 pm

    Maybe a brown-out or two will force some sense into our Governmentally appointed energy managers and they will resurrect the CEGB as a body that carries responsibility for delivering reliable long-term power at lowest real cost.

    I did not used to be too keen on the CEGB, but realise now that it was far better than the short-termism and carbon fanaticism mess that has ensued through stupid privatisations that have cost the UK billions to those with the sense / money to invest in the various milk-cows created.

    Unfortunately Gridwatch does not include voltage dips: ours Is close to minimum now.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      November 29, 2016 9:14 pm

      “Unfortunately Gridwatch does not include voltage dips: ours Is close to minimum now”

      @Jack – Voltage is not a good way to make comparisons. It can vary widely depending on local circumstances, and independently of overall grid load. I monitor our supply frequently, and the voltage is often higher during the early evening peak than in the early hours – the opposite of what you might expect. Main substations on the local networks have “tap changers” which work to try and maintain a stable voltage as the demand changes, but a heavy user on one branch makes it impossible to keep every customers supply at the nominal voltage. I live in an urban area, and our mains is fairly stable, but if I visit my friend in the country you don’t need a DVM to see when his farm machinery cuts in – you just watch the light bulbs dimming!

      • Dave Ward permalink
        November 29, 2016 9:15 pm

        Bugger – that wasn’t all supposed to be in italics…

    • November 29, 2016 10:12 pm

      Jack, I’ve been making that argument for months.

      I’m no engineer so anyone who is is quite welcome to call me an idiot but it seems to me simple common sense that the only way to run a reliable grid is to have one central organisation responsible for that grid which, in practice, means one central organisation responsible for generation and responsible for determining the mix.

      Greenies can argue till they are blue in the face about the (dubious and unproven) need to cut CO2 emissions; modern society operates on the basis “throw the switch, the lights come in” and that means that internittent supplies — most especially wind which by its nature is inherently unreliable — have only a minuscule place in electricity generation.

      As David Richardson says above, the eco-luddites’ prime aim has nothing to do with climate and only incidentally anything to do with CO2. They are planning to unpick the Industrial Revolution and anyone who has had dealings with them as I have over the years knows this. Why it is taking government so long to realise the potential damage they can cause is unfathomable.

      The UK needs reliable generating capacity capable of delivering (at a guess) at least 55Gw which means coal/gas/nuclear and a single hand on the tiller. The idea that every Tom, Dick and Harry with a handful of windmills can be given preferential treatment at a premium price whether his kit is doing anything useful or not is ludicrous. No sensible system would tolerate such idiocy for a minute.

      • daveR permalink
        November 30, 2016 12:08 pm

        Mike, this impending disaster – and that’s precisely what we’re staring at here, Scotland and UK-wide – is a direct consequenece of increasingly big guv and its increasingly incestuous relationsgip with big lobbyism. It’s their mutually beneficial ‘club’ – literally, the big stick. We know that – go check almost any attendance at Holyrood committee meetings and invariably there’ll be some ‘presence’ representing either Scottish Greens, WWF or Stop Climate Chaos. It’s utterly rampant and don’t the media yolk it.

        So where have their combined aspirations led us to, hmm? Effectively, all baseload capability mandated gone within the next seven years with a vastly increasing grid occasionally supplying via wind, tide and solar. Frankly, disastrous.

        This recent tweet from SNP’s Angus MacNeil, Chair of the HoC Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, on the recent death of Castro probably sums it well,

        “a nationalist symbol of regional pride and defiance against the gringo superpower”.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 30, 2016 1:51 pm

      What is missing is the free market that makes capitalism function. The energy market is just about the most regulated in the land so it is no surprise that it is failing. Remove government interference and watch costs tumble – together with a lot of windmills – with no requirement to use expensive renewables, no carbon taxes, no planning restrictions requiring CCS fantasy. If Donald is true to his word then this is what will happen in the US.

  13. mikewaite permalink
    November 29, 2016 7:55 pm

    Has anyone seen or heard any comment on this situation from the BBC .
    They are very ready to attribute any gale or hot weather to global warming given their
    obsession. One would have thought that the present situation might call for a rethink of the Climate Change Act. If that call came from the BBC it would be noticed by the Govt, since May and her ministers appear to live in daily fear of that institution.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      November 30, 2016 9:20 am

      More chance of resuscitating Castro.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 30, 2016 1:59 pm

      It would be against their religion.

  14. November 29, 2016 8:16 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  15. November 29, 2016 9:45 pm

    Very close. There are industrial breakers that trip at -1Hz to protect large VFD motors. SA went dark somewher just below 48.5 Hz, indicative of the inertial overload as wind tripped off. Your event had much more grid inertia to fall back on than SA–this time.

  16. The Old Man permalink
    November 29, 2016 9:53 pm

    How they think you can substitute flakey renewables for stable existing grid power to guarantee the peak demand is beyond my simple comprehension. Apparently, that’s how they justify the renewable capital debit/credit?

  17. November 29, 2016 10:54 pm

    Thanks Paul. Not surprised , crossed my mind this afternoon that there may be no lights on at the Van Morrison concert in Manchester tonight. It is cold and no wind and yes you had kindled my mind with previous recent posts. It would be a crime to let the coal power go without a secure and guaranteed replacement, and at the same cost thankyou. Just have a look at the absolute mayhem recently caused in South Australia which ran out of power. People on life support in hospitals were in immediate danger. And business has been leaving the state in droves due to high renewable energy costs and unreliable supply.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      November 30, 2016 3:10 pm

      The problem with the hospital in Adelaide was that the backup diesel generator failed. It hadn’t been maintained or even run regularly and was short of fuel in any case. A fair summation of the incompetence of the SA administration.

  18. Gamecock permalink
    November 30, 2016 12:31 am

    ‘what the hell are we supposed to do in a few years time’

    “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

  19. tom0mason permalink
    November 30, 2016 11:00 am

    Have another look tomorrow from 16:30 to about 18:00 that’s where load picks up mightily.

    • Green Sand permalink
      November 30, 2016 3:35 pm

      15:25 – 30/11/16 Demand 46.04GW
      15:30 – 30/11/16 Demand 44.90GW

      Somebody has shed a lump and early

      • Green Sand permalink
        November 30, 2016 3:36 pm

        Maybe they went too early?

        15:35 – 30/11/16 Demand 46.50GW

      • tom0mason permalink
        November 30, 2016 4:05 pm

        Yes I noted that but the solar generation is ending and the wind is rocking about. Irish interconnector has flip from supply to demand.
        That’s the problem with complicating the grid, everything is so interdependent and quite volatile.
        In the old days more demand=more generators/more fuel, now its the unreliable generators jumping on and off the grid to accommodate as well.

    • tom0mason permalink
      November 30, 2016 4:37 pm

      Green Sand,
      Note the frequency meter can be a better indication of sudden shifts in load/generation capacity on line.
      Frequency suddenly rises is usually the loss of a load, Sudden increases in load or loss of say a few wind farms usually are indicated by drops in frequency. In both cases this is normal and will take a few seconds to a few minutes to recover.
      Also the frequency usually rises in anticipation of increasing load demand, and the opposite as demand lowers.

      If there’s a sudden frequency shift(s) and the load moves in the wrong direction something awful just happened.

      Currently wind is consistently supplying about 3.6-3.9GW so things look OK (touch wood).

  20. November 30, 2016 12:02 pm

    Oh Paul, you’re such a pessimist. You must have forgotten the under-water kites that they are going to fly in the Holyhead Deeps off Anglesey! The Welsh Government has give £10 million (of our money) to help develop them, so naturally all will be well.

    Off to the bottom of the garden now to see the fairies again. La, la, la ……

  21. November 30, 2016 1:08 pm

    Another good site Also that demand figure is being actively lowered by distributed Onshore Wind – when the wind stops blowing expect the demand to rise further.

  22. Mickey permalink
    November 30, 2016 6:38 pm

    Looking at the GB and French National Grid dashboards. The GB dashboard says “French 0.39 GW”. The French dashboard says “UK 1.47 GW”. Both are listed as being the 2GW France to England interconnector. How can both values be positive?

  23. December 1, 2016 10:27 am

    Can any one help me here:
    “Those gauges look really bad at the gridwatch Templar link but we do still have 10% spare at present and of course the 55GW is the de-rated supply, allowing for potential breakdowns or maintenance.

    Currently we are at 49GW, estimated max this month is 52GW. De-rated we can produce 55GW and outright we could produce 73GW. ”

    What is “de-rated” do we have 10% spare capacity?


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