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Coal And Gas Working Flat Out To Keep UK Grid Going On Coldest Night Of Year

December 11, 2017

By Paul Homewood




It’s probably going to be the coldest night of the year, and the grid is working nearly flat out.


At 18.30, coal is providing 9.88 GW and is running at full capacity. CCGT is providing nearly half of our power, and is again at nearly full capacity.

There are apparently outages at Sizewell, Heysham and Hartlepool nuclear plants, leaving a shortfall for nuclear.

Altogether, coal, gas and nuclear are providing 80% of the UK’s power.

So much for renewable energy!

  1. MrGrimNasty permalink
    December 11, 2017 7:06 pm

    OCGT was also fired up although cutting back as I write, caption says ‘seldom used except in EMERGENCIES in winter’.

    What is especially worrying is that this is not a ‘normal’ or protracted or exceptional cold spell. Being Arctic air mixed with regular Atlantic incursions, the wind is actually making a useful 4.7GW contribution. In a proper anticyclonic cold spell – wind will do nothing at all.
    Where will another 4.7GW come from?

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      December 12, 2017 2:02 am

      In a proper anticyclonic cold spell – wind will do nothing at all.
      I think you mean one such as has been inplace over the USA’s Columbia Basin. Please have a look at the chart here:

      Look closely – – near the bottom for the green line = wind.
      Updated every 5 minutes.
      We expect the wind to reappear this coming Friday, about 4PM.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        December 12, 2017 5:10 pm

        Yep just like that. Of course they used to tell us the solution was to interconnect Europe grids because the wind would always be blowing somewhere. But your typical serious winter anticyclone is pan-Eurasian, never mind just pan-Europe.

        OCGT and hydro – last resorts/most expensive fired up again today for the UK grid, luckily Atlantic systems still making inroads and wind still blowing.

    • Carla permalink
      December 12, 2017 7:39 pm


  2. Robert Fairless permalink
    December 11, 2017 7:07 pm

    The fools who got us in this mess will be the ones who suffer least. Are there any politicians left who have a modicum of common sense.? Already many billions have been wasted and more to come. There is a solution; Scrap the iniquitous Climate Change Act, stop chopping down forests and let economics rule.

    • Rowland H permalink
      December 12, 2017 11:02 am

      I would encourage everybody to write/email their MPs regularly on this subject and keep pointing out the errors of their ways.

  3. December 11, 2017 7:11 pm

    My woodburner is working flat out to keep the house warm (supplemented by the oil-fired central heating boiler). Roll on a power cut when I can fire up the generator to keep the lights on.

    • Alaskan Sea permalink
      December 11, 2017 7:33 pm

      Coal, wood, oil and petrol generator here.

      • treghotel permalink
        December 11, 2017 8:23 pm

        What would you recommend as I am thinking of installing a generator.I live in the southern region of Brecon Beacons National Park where we have had 10″ of snow plus deeper drifts.I have been wondering when we will “see the last of snow ” as my children believed back in 1990 and now my grandchildren are also wondering!!

      • December 11, 2017 8:42 pm

        treghotel. I recommend an LPG Honda generator (converted from petrol).

    • December 11, 2017 10:24 pm

      totally agree – let’s see where that ca. 5GW will come from

      • treghotel permalink
        December 13, 2017 3:14 pm

        Thank you,I have signed up to Seddon for a quote.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 12, 2017 7:33 pm

      In future, when power cuts are the norm we shall need the lihhts to illuminate the toe-rags who would want to sreal the genny. 😀

    • Carla permalink
      December 12, 2017 7:41 pm

      And power the boiler.

  4. December 11, 2017 7:12 pm

    Pretty scary that 15-20 GW of firm capacity from coal and nuclear is on death row thanks to planet saving delusions, plus those two are the only ones that provide long-term fuel storage. Whoever controls gas supply is now king, probably the real reason why Russia is in Syria.

  5. December 11, 2017 7:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  6. December 11, 2017 7:22 pm

    Paul, this is simply a matter of technology lagging reality by a few years. RE will work much better in a few years time when SolarCoin and Blockchain technology fill the current gap between Solar maximum output in May and maximum demand in December.

    Once everything is up and running properly you will simply be able to contract with a solar PV supplier to keep you warm when the mercury plunges to -15˚C. Its simple. Bitcoin is worth ~$15,000. The same technology can transport photons through space and time to keep you warm

    Virtual Energy

    • December 11, 2017 11:59 pm

      You are describing an accounting system, not a generation system. It assumes the power exists to be distributed and charged. How does one distribute PV energy at night? Batteries at grid scale? Why would anyone store one kW at USD 200 when one might generate it for 4 cents? Generation follows the load or else the grid fails. “Smart Management” is not the same as “reliable generation”. The 2 greatest threats to grid stability are frequency collapse and voltage collapse. Prithee tell all how intermittent and unpredictable / non-dispatchable generation stabilize the grid and how they can be managed when their input is not predictable? Imagination is not a substitute for reality or reliability.

      • Diogenese2 permalink
        December 12, 2017 12:47 pm

        Cowboy, click on Euan’s link and all will be revealed.

  7. Joe Public permalink
    December 11, 2017 7:49 pm

    No worries – we’ve 12GW of solar on standby.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 11, 2017 9:11 pm

      Yes, it’s standing by until next spring…

  8. December 11, 2017 8:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    It’s not a laughing matter of course, older people, poorer people and those with breathing issues are going to struggle severely in this cold. If I was in charge I would make sure anyone in the Green Party and other renewables supporters would be the first to be turned off, giving the rest of us a fighting chance.

  9. Jack Broughton permalink
    December 11, 2017 8:52 pm

    My biggest concern is that the climatic-madmen are intent on demolishing the remaining coal fired power plant as fast as they can while these could be economically refurbished to provide reserve and low cost power (as in Germany). This is especially worrying as there is no sign of our leaders getting reliable, new power plant built: as they are hoist on the petard of subsidised renewables that kill off any alternative.

  10. December 11, 2017 8:55 pm

    When are we going to get our REAL cold snap/period this winter.?

  11. Dave Ward permalink
    December 11, 2017 9:19 pm

    The lunchtime BBC weather forecast showed the winds falling light over nearly the whole of the UK overnight and early Tuesday morning. The morning peak demand might be tricky to cover if the present 4.5GW of wind generation drops to a few hundred kW’s, with other sources running nearly flat out already. My back up batteries and inverters are standing by, and I have plenty of petrol for the genny…

  12. December 12, 2017 1:43 am

    I should like to point out something quite relevant.

    “In the overall view of things, solar power is a complete irrelevance in winter months. In fact, it is worse than that, because it forces other generators offline for the few short hours it is actually working.”

    A bit further on: “Rounded to the nearest whole number, wind power meets 0% of the earth’s energy demands. Wind energy is trivial to the point of irrelevancy. It doesn’t matter.”

  13. December 12, 2017 6:36 am

    The UK has fallen well below a safe electricity generation operating margin on several occasions with the output failures of Weather Dependent Renewable Energy technologies.

    Load shedding, (power cuts), have mostly been avoided so far, but only by extraordinary grid management measures. But as the elimination of base load power generation continues, so failure will inevitably occur sooner or later.

    Nations with embedded Green policy commitments to Weather Dependent Renewables, particularly the UK and Germany, already face existential National Emergencies in that their electricity generating margins for winter loads may often be virtually non-existent:

    Global Warming / Climate Change Alarm are embedded in Western Energy policies.

    The immediate existential danger posed by Green thinking will not be appreciated until a real and catastrophic electrical grid failure occurs.

    So it is a race to the bottom, whose grid will fail first, the UK or Germany?

    Then the failures will be a truly self-inflicted National Emergencies.

    As the generating resources then needed to recover from grid failure will have been lost, it will not necessarily be possible to rectify the situation quickly.

    Reliable generating resources have been eliminated by the Green policies, originating from the European Union and particularly re-enforced in the UK by the 2008 Climate Change Act.

    These irrational decisions will have been taken ostensibly “to save the planet”, but the actions of those participating Nations will have been taken unilaterally, as compared to the rest of the world, at their own costs and to their own commercial and National economic disadvantage.

    The scale of the real catastrophe that will arise with failure of the electricity generating system in UK or anywhere in Europe is not yet fully understood.


    The chaos and vast damage that will arise from a UK power outage for just a day or so will be hugely destructive to lives, livelihoods and investor / business confidence.

    If an outage continues for more than a day absolute anarchy will result, much like the UK riots of 2011, but much much worse.

    The UK has already lost its ability for true self-sufficiency in consistent electricity generation.

    Overall ~6% of UK power is already imported, usually at times of peak need from France: this is a major existential National risk in itself.

    Overseas power sources should be urgently replaced by reliable in-country power generation simply on grounds of National Security.

    If the French are experiencing shortages themselves at winter peak times they will certainly not be exporting their power to support the UK.

    This risky situation has been worsened in the recent past firstly by the current outage for maintenance of about 30% of the French nuclear capability and secondly by storm damage to the French-UK interconnector. More recent French announcements indicate that they intend to reduce their commitment to Nuclear power from ~80% to ~50% and therefore they will reduce their ability to sell the nuclear power overseas


    • December 12, 2017 6:47 am

      The problem is that what you say has been communicated to Government repeatedly over the last 10 years or so, but nobody is listening (they can’t hear over the green noise) and nobody understands.

      I suspect things will no be as bad as you state, because NG will isolate large parts of the countryside to prevent complete collapse (needing an untried black start) and to avoid the anarchy and rioting that would inevitably occur in the major cities.

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        December 12, 2017 10:40 am

        As you say parts of the grid will be isolated ….. guess which parts. The London-centric ruling group will be happy that the provincial plebs are used to depravations so will remain convinced that they are saving the world despite the plebs and the costs.

  14. Gerry, England permalink
    December 12, 2017 1:22 pm

    There doesn’t seem to be very much in reserve although it doesn’t show all the STOR diesels ready to kick in and help out. And this is only one night.

    As for solar, with the declining sun and weakening magnetic field, cosmic radiation is steadily increasing. Cloud seeding by cosmic particles has been proven so with an increase in cloud there will be a decrease in solar output.

  15. Paul Weeks permalink
    December 12, 2017 5:25 pm

    Dear Paul Gridwatch More than flat out tonight! If it wasn’t windy the grid would need up to 5.75 GW / 11.51% extra. I see the one and only OCGT is fired up even. The French are not sending us anything, the Dutch interconnector is flat out though.

    Worrying, have written to my MP

    Paul Weeks

    Sent from my iPhone


  16. Jim Ross permalink
    December 12, 2017 5:51 pm

    Is there any way of telling if STOR is in operation? It looks suspiciously like it might be showing up on Gridwatch as reduced demand (at 50GW).

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