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Wind Power Fluctuating Wildly Today

October 4, 2019

By Paul Homewood


Just a quick snapshot of the electricity mix over the last 48 hours:




Wind power has swung wildly from next to nothing on Wed night to 11 GW last night.

And, of course, it is CCGT which has taken up the slack, ranging from 3 to 17 GW. Nuclear, by necessity, sends all of its available power to the grid, and other sources are too small to make a difference. (Other than coal of course).


I have yet to see a rational explanation as to how CCGT can be replaced in this role of grid balancing from anybody in charge of our energy policy.

Am I missing something?

  1. Paul Reynolds permalink
    October 4, 2019 7:44 pm

    The blind leading the blind towards energy starvation. When the lights go out as they inevitable will it will be too late. How can we let it happen? Who will shake some sense into our stupid brainwashed politicians?

    • October 4, 2019 9:03 pm

      Offering large bungs to industry to cut their power demand at difficult supply times is masquerading as policy these days.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 5, 2019 11:21 am

      I am afraid the politicians we have now are so stupid they can only learn by experience. Quite how many will have to die before this happens who knows.

  2. Rupert Fiennes permalink
    October 4, 2019 7:49 pm

    Yup, you are absolutely missing something. It’s called “blacking out the politically unpopular”. Free Powerwalls for rich Remainers/LGBTQIA++/comrades of proven worth!

  3. Joe Public permalink
    October 4, 2019 8:11 pm

    Reminiscent of this …

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 5, 2019 11:18 am

      There’s an overlay of the rollout of new projects explaining the higher peak levels towards the end of the year. But also, there is considerable variation from one year to the next. BP’s Energy Statistics show total UK wind generation as


      Note the drop in 2016, despite the capacity added over the summer. When I look at the data produced by Staffell and Pfenniger, reanalysing weather data to estimate what hourly wind production might have been over 1980-2016 with a constant fleet of turbines, I find that offshore annual average production varies between 32.3% and 43.6% capacity factor, and onshore between 23.8% and 43.4%, a ratio of 135.2% and 144.2% respectively. 2016 isn’t the worst year (that’s 2010) – it is only 2.6% below the long run averages of 38.4% and 28.3%. respectively.

      On a calendar month basis, the variations in capacity factors are obviously even more extreme – offshore wind varying between 16.1% and 75.3%, and onshore between 11.7% and 62.9%. These figures start to show the difficulties with bridging the gaps with storage, and the amounts of curtailment that would be needed as wind capacity is increased.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 5, 2019 12:19 pm

        UK year end wind capacities were:


  4. jack broughton permalink
    October 4, 2019 8:28 pm

    With the increasing need for rapid load control against unreliables, the open cycle gas turbine is likely to become increasingly important as CCGT is not that good at fast start-up. Drax are leading this rush (which shows the subsidy levels available) but using heavy-duty industrial gas turbines, rather than the more efficient and faster-responding aero-derived type, (which can still be made in the UK). The UK sold out its large industrial gas turbine business decades ago, so yet more work for other countries in our power industry.

    The UK is one of the few developed economies that can no longer build its own power stations of any type. All of the UK’s “green” power supply has cost UK jobs, and that is apart from the ongoing massive payments to foreign owners.

  5. October 4, 2019 9:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  6. GeoffB permalink
    October 4, 2019 9:32 pm

    Do not worry, Climate Change Committee chairman Lord Deben (aka John Gummer) announced that in the event of no wind …..unicorn farts will power the gas turbines.

  7. Paul Deverson permalink
    October 4, 2019 10:13 pm

    What you’re missing, Paul, is the power of wishful thinking!

  8. October 5, 2019 6:52 am

    You are missing nothing. The best solution is nuclear for baseload, gas for load follow and pumped hydro for peak load (if you ignore the cheap baseload solution – coal).

  9. Dodgy Geezer permalink
    October 5, 2019 6:58 am

    load shedding…

    • dave permalink
      October 5, 2019 10:00 am

      “Load shedding.”

      I was woken up by a brief power cut in the middle of that night. Weird! There was nothing going on in the village to justify it.

      The situation reminds me of the creaking of a tree in my garden, a few days before it suddenly shed a huge limb.

      RSS has confirmed the increase of 0.2 C in September temperature anomalies, and UAH now state that the data is good. Like me, UAH think it is a temporary blip, caused by the unusual Sudden Stratospheric Warming episode in Antarctica.

      • dave permalink
        October 5, 2019 10:13 am


        Or it could be an effect of this blip in SST:

      • Sheri permalink
        October 5, 2019 4:04 pm

        I have power blips quite often. There’s nothing out of the ordinary to cause them. I am blaming the ineptness of my power company.

      • dave permalink
        October 6, 2019 4:54 am

        We used not to have any power cuts, except for those caused by falling trees.

        Power companies are not responsible for the Grid.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 5, 2019 11:32 am

      The government E3C committee has produced its interim report on the August 6th blackout.

      It tells us little we didn’t already know, but it does point out one new fact: when load shedding started, it knocked out a further 600MW of “embedded generation” – i.e. wind farms and solar panels – on top of the 500MW that was lost in the initial stages of the event, and the 737MW of Hornsea wind. So that’s a total of of 1.837GW of unreliables disconnecting because of grid instability.

      One other feature is that they mention an oil refinery encountered problems – they do not say which one, but it will have been one of the refineries on the Humber near the Killingholme substation where Hornsea ties into the grid. National Grid have not offered a proper explanation as to why the grid appears to have been quite so disturbed in that area, and neither have E3C.

  10. October 5, 2019 8:38 am

    Paul is correct. It was I think, Euan Mears, on his blog who pointed out that large amounts of wind power actually prevents the grid from being decarbonised as gas will always be needed to balance. Nuclear, hydro, and a bit of gas is the answer. But if you spend billions on wind you can’t spend it on nuclear.

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    October 5, 2019 11:33 am

    Is the biomass element mainly Drax I wonder? The Sandwich plant has struggled to get enough fuel so my forestry contacts say.

    On the biomass subject, the European Academies Science Advisory Council have called for subsidies to be stopped as it is unsustainable. The Netherlands is planning 628 biomass installations at a cost to taxpayers of 11.4bn euro. Well it has been a few years but the last time I travelled around the Netherlands there were not many great forests – a lot of cows but few trees. So quite where fuel for 628(!!!!!) plants will come from beats me.

    • Mike Ellwood permalink
      October 6, 2019 12:38 am


  12. October 7, 2019 5:40 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  13. Dibnah permalink
    October 7, 2019 6:44 am

    Large wind turbines become parastic in low wind conditions, is this energy demand included within wind generation output data? In my view, this parasitic element is one of the reasons why the UK should not rely on an energy mix with a high percentage of installed wind capacity.

  14. Colin Megson permalink
    October 7, 2019 2:55 pm

    Batteries – never:

    Only H2 can do it for renewables, via H2 powered CCGTs, for short term [as NG CCGTs now] and inter-seasonal variations, using storage in salt caverns.

    But the CCC’s Steam Methane Reforming recommendation is utterly dependant on a wildly expensive CCuS infrastructure. Put methane leakage and CCuS [unquantified] leakage into the mix and it’s really, really bad economics.

    The [virtually] perfect ‘Absolute Zero’ solution is over-capacity nuclear power with all reactors operating at 100% for all time-availability and automatically switching to electrolysis production of H2, when electricity demand dips, for the supply of all of the other energy needs.

    For minimum disruption/cost, it would be electrical heating and hot water [many heat pumps] for buildings; marginal-cost H2 for all transport – ruling out resource-problematic batteries – to include all road vehicles, rail and shipping; much research to get H2 powered passenger/freight air travel introduced and carbon-neutral synfuels if/where necessary.

    • Mike Ellwood permalink
      October 7, 2019 3:26 pm

      I really like the idea of boron-powered vehicles. See:

      P152 Chapter Five: The Fifth Element

      (“Prescription for the Planet” by Tom Blees)

      Boron isn’t all that widely available, nor particularly cheap. But the same boron is burned (in pure oxygen) over and over again. It’s converted to boron oxide, and when the “tankful” (it might be in the form of a “cartridge” or what might look like a car battery) is completely burned to boron oxide, it’s swapped out, and a fresh one put in. The old one goes to a reprocessing plant, where the oxygen is driven off (and maybe extracted for some other use) by heat or electricity, provided (of course) by nuclear power (he suggests the Integral Fast Reactor, pioneered at Argonne). See also:

      Apologies if I have posted this before…, actually, I don’t apologise, because I think it’s such a great idea. 🙂 Better than tilting at windmills, and depending on sunshine anyway. 🙂

  15. swan101 permalink
    October 8, 2019 12:18 pm

    Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

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