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National Grid to pay power plants to shut down this summer

April 7, 2017

By Paul Homewood




From the Telegraph:


National Grid may be forced to pay higher prices to power plants to stop generating electricity this summer as demand for power continues falling to set new record lows.

The transmission system operator said power generators must be prepared to offer a fair price to turn down their electricity output if power flows threaten to flood the grid during periods of particularly low demand, such as weekend afternoons or overnight.

The expected glut of electricity flips the winter-time challenge of securing enough supply to meet demand. Instead, National Grid will face periods when demand falls and there is more wind and solar power than Britain needs due to record low demand for power through its network of transmission cables.

Grid demand has been steadily falling in recent years because more and more companies and households are able to generate their own on-site power through small-scale generators and solar panels.

Through its ‘balancing mechanism’ National Grid will allow generators to submit a price at which they would be willing to turn down production so that the grid can opt for the most economic solution to the imbalance. It is a step which National Grid is able to use year round, but the record low demand forecasts could mean paying out more often than usual.

In recent years the FTSE 100 energy operator has been investigating more cost-effective ways to balance the grid to avoid piling pressure on energy costs that in turn hike consumer bills.


In fact, the article grossly overstates the effect of reduced demand. In Q3 last year, for instance, supply was 76.2TWh, only down slightly from 77.0TWh in 2014.

Closure of coal capacity has more then offset this.

The real problem, which the report fails to mention, is the amount of new renewable capacity coming on stream. Being highly unpredictable, it is difficult for the Grid to properly plan ahead.

Astonishingly, the National Grid will even pay companies to use more power!

This summer the operator is increasing its use of the so-called ‘demand turn-up’ scheme, which pays companies to use more power to make use of any excess electricity in the system.

The article continues:

A National Grid spokesman said its figures show that the scheme will save consumers £500,000 over the summer compared to using other balancing tools.

As one commenter puts it, “the savings the grid spokesperson mentions of £500,000 is a convoluted way of saying if we ask the wind farms to stop producing it will cost us even more , £500,000 more.”

  1. Joe Public permalink
    April 7, 2017 3:09 pm

    A useful link which models national solar generation is:

    Enter username ‘pvlive’ and password (empty) and the page should load.

    From DropDown list below first chart, select ‘4 weeks’ to see just how ‘spiky’ solar is.

  2. April 7, 2017 3:41 pm

    No mention of the instability of the grid due to the reduced system inertia and the lack of synchronous generation.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 9, 2017 3:32 pm

      Yes, the report misses out this vitally important piece of information. National Grid should forge ahead with the plan for a grid connection fee for all those who have their own generation but still come back to the the grid when it suits them. The money raised can then cover the cost of paying the grid suppliers to stop generating. I agree it is still madness but it means that those who don’t fully cover the costs of maintaining the grid are doing their bit.

  3. April 7, 2017 4:04 pm

    There goes the concept of baseload, another nail in the coffin of the Free Market, I hope the govt has a plan to avoid getting fleeced, as it is currently bending over a barrel, exposing its delicate parts.

  4. NeilC permalink
    April 7, 2017 4:32 pm

    Am I right in thinking this means, we pay (as it all comes out of tax payers money), providers to supply electricity generation and not to generate, and pay them even if they can’t.

    Then we pay users not to use electricty and also pay them to use more.

    It really is a mad mad world.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 9, 2017 3:28 pm

      Yep, you have summed it up nicely.

  5. AlecM permalink
    April 7, 2017 4:46 pm

    Norwegian madmen have come to control our power system: what’s wrong with that?

  6. April 9, 2017 4:15 pm

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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