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BBC Plug Renewables, But Ignore What Really Keeps Our Grid Afloat

April 29, 2020

By Paul Homewood


Meanwhile the BBC’s One Show has been plugging renewables, with a slot showing how pumped storage and Drax biomass are helping to keep the power flowing:


The episode is available on iPlayer here, at about 4 mins in.

It starts with a visit to the pumped storage at Cruachan, which helps to mop up surplus power, as well as providing power when needed.

Pumped storage is of course an important part of the National Grid’s toolbox for short term balancing. However it is tiny in relation to the Grid’s overall needs. Cruachan, for instance,  only has capacity of 440 MW and 7.1 GWh. In other words, it can supply electricity for only 16 hours at full load.

This is fine when the Grid needs to make tiny adjustments to maintain frequency, but is next to useless for anything else.

Drax biomass can of course provide greater flexibility, but the programme might have pointed out that vast swathes of US pristine forest are being chopped down to fuel it!


The slot ends with the National Grid chap assuring us that there will be no blackouts. But it would have been nice if he could have brought himself to admit that this is only possible because of the availability of large amounts of gas-fired power, which has often been supplying half of our power this month:






There is an interesting chart included in the above twitter feed, posted by Drax apparently (who own Cruachan):



It is obviously intended to advertise the advantages of pumped storage, but it also highlights the very real drawbacks of wind and solar.

  1. JimW permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:44 am

    As I commented before, black outs can happen if the wind picks up with this very low demand. The grid frequency will be unsustainable.

  2. Devoncamel permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:45 am

    How convenient there was no mention of that inconvenient truth about Drax’s fuel source. Will the same allowances be made for domestic wood burners?

    • April 30, 2020 9:38 am

      Does Drax know how to grow a new tree as fast as another one is burned for fuel?

      • Devoncamel permalink
        April 30, 2020 11:48 am

        Oldbrew, I think Drax and the climate alarmists would prefer the truth was not revealed. Its a scam.

  3. Great Scott permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:16 am

    Paul, you will find that the less BBC programming you watch, the better you will feel. Also by saving electricity you are also saving the planet because they won’t need to run so many of those nasty gas power stations. Everyone wins (especially the BBC which gets to charge you £145 a year for it’s patronising, biased, reporting even when you can’t bear to watch or listen anymore).

  4. bobn permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:23 am

    Pumped storage is great. Its a very old technology, been used for a century so its not part of the ‘green revolution’, its old school hydro. However you need lots of gravity to use it ie: mountain valleys to flood. Alas UK doesnt have many (great system for NZ and chile though). UK has pretty much exausted its potential for pumped storage, and any new sites suitable to be dammed and flooded will be opposed by the green tree-hugger lobby who oppose this excellent green energy system, while applauding drax’s tree-killing treeburner plant. The hypocracy is breathtaking. Why not dam the Severn and get tidal power and a new road link? Oh the green lobby oppose this sort of green energy that upsets the fishes.
    When will they learn you cant keep your cake and also eat it?

    • Martin Howard Keith Brumby permalink
      April 29, 2020 5:54 pm

      No Bobn, pumped storage hydroelectricity isn’t just “old school hydro”.
      There are 4 stations in the UK, Dinorwig & Ffestiniog in Wales and Foyers & Crauchan in Scotland. The two first were built in 1963, Crauchan in 1959 and Foyers (converted from conventional hydro) in 1975.
      Very interesting and good engineering, they are are one of the few methods of effectively storing energy (although great heaps of coal work out infinitely cheaper) and can release the stored potential energy quickly. But they are expensive and, in terms of the UK’s energy generation needs, they are just a footnote. There are very few locations where both an upper and lower reservoir can realistically be constructed.

  5. Paul permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:40 am

    Posting this here in the interests of objectivity as it’s relevant to almost any post:

    • Joe Public permalink
      April 29, 2020 11:56 am

      Posting this here in the interests of even greater objectivity, as it’s relevant to almost any post relating to Ketan Joshi:

      He earns his living as a paid communications ‘consultant’ for the renewable energy industry.

  6. Douglas Brodie permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:40 am

    Dr John Constable of GWPF has a good article on the problems of system balancing with lots of non-synchronous supply (renewables and interconnectors) and low demand, see

    That article was also posted on WUWT where Leo Smith, proprietor of Gridwatch, gave a very insightful comment, see

  7. Philip Foster permalink
    April 29, 2020 11:45 am

    I was amused when the BBC trumpeted that no coal power was used briefly yesterday. Seconds after the announcement we had a power cut for an hour!

  8. April 29, 2020 11:57 am

    Drax, thy name is mud.

  9. john cooknell permalink
    April 29, 2020 12:51 pm

    BBC ignore everything and get it wrong all the time.

    Toddbrook dam report shows the BBC were wrong and this site was right. The EA did do a cover up, the 2018 inspection report before the dam collapsed highlighted the risk of the actual failure and work needed.

    Click to access toddbrook-reservoir-independent-review-reporta.pdf

  10. Broadlands permalink
    April 29, 2020 1:05 pm

    “The carbon dioxide released by burning the felled trees will be balanced out by the CO2 absorbed by newly planted replacement trees, making this practice carbon neutral.”

    Sustainable, renewable? What is the source of energy used to fell and re-plant all these trees? Are the replacement trees capturing CO2 faster than it is being ‘released’? Just asking.

  11. Thoma Carr permalink
    April 29, 2020 2:22 pm

    For those who will not have read him on page 12 in The Times today Ben Webster (Environmental Editor, not the musician) picked up on this one. No mention of the use of the interconnector(s) from Europe or what happened on the ‘record’ day of 20th April when the sun went down. No mention of the grant farming at Drax. Fintan Slye at the National Grid Electricity System Operator should be on your mailing list.

  12. April 29, 2020 9:05 pm

    GreenBlob do an attack on Michael Moore
    using SkyNews

    • April 29, 2020 9:07 pm

      That’s an embedded Facebook post
      So to see more and get to the comments
      look bottom right to the button next to the thumb
      Or top right click on the Facebook icon

  13. AZ1971 permalink
    April 29, 2020 9:21 pm

    The monthly graph of energy production proves, once again, that if eco-fascists want to truly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels without polluting the atmosphere with carbon, the UK should double its nuclear fleet output to meet baseload necessity.

    Go nuclear. It blows renewables out of the water.

  14. tom0mason permalink
    April 29, 2020 9:43 pm

    DRAX figures for biomass suppliers is here . They also have a link to more blather and nonsense at .
    So keep clearing forests, destroying natural habitats, destroying life that all depends on the forest to be, to exist. For all that matters is the dull ‘scientific socialist’ stupidity and flawed mathematics of destroying biospheres around the world to cure an imagined crisis of CO2 warming. (see )

    All this done through the grip of interlinked committees of ‘group-think’ aka ‘collective responsibilities’. Committees so blind they can not see what they are doing as they sleepwalk to more global environment destruction. As the old USSR showed so well with their catalogue of environment disasters (see ). With the moral corruption inherent in so called ‘scientific socialism’ using ‘collective responsibility’ there is little if any personal responsibility for ‘collective decisions’, QED there is no remediation from man-made environmental disasters.

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:01 pm

    Has anyone seen any of the follow up that was promised in/by April to the blackout report? the E3C report mandated:

    Action 1: The E3C, in collaboration with the relevant trade associations and generators, to disseminate lessons learnt to the wider electricity connected generation community.
    Timing: This action should be completed by end January 2020.
    Action 2: The ESO, in consultation with large generators and transmission owners, should review and improve compliance testing and modelling processes for new and modified generation connections, particularly for complex systems.
    Timing: The ESO to provide a progress report to the E3C by April 2020.
    Action 3: The E3C, in collaboration with relevant trade associations and the DCRP, to review embedded generators’ understanding of, and compliance with, the Distribution Code; and assess whether the current governance, monitoring and enforcement processes are fit for purpose.
    Timing: E3C to provide a progress report to BEIS and Ofgem by March 2020.
    Action 4: The ESO and DNOs through the Energy Networks Association (ENA), should review the timescales for the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme, and consider widening its scope to include distributed generation that unexpectedly disconnected or de-loaded on 9 August.
    Timing: The ENA to put forward recommendations to the E3C by April 2020.
    Action 5: The ESO, in consultation with industry, should undertake a review of the SQSS requirements for holding reserve, response and system inertia. This review should consider:
    • the explicit impacts of distributed generation on the required level of security;
    • whether it is appropriate to provide flexibility in the requirements for securing against risk events with a very low likelihood, for example on a cost/risk basis; and
    • the costs and benefits of requiring the availability of additional reserves to secure against the risk of simultaneous loss events.
    Timing: The ESO should put forward modification proposals to the SQSS by April 2020.
    Action 6: The E3C, through the DNOs and the ENA, to undertake a fundamental review of the LFDD scheme including its application and administration by the DNOs, and present options for short- and long-term improvements.
    Timing: The E3C to provide a progress report to BEIS and Ofgem by March 2020.
    Action 7: E3C to scope and define what an essential service is, and better understand their capacity to deal effectively with power disruptions.
    Timing: The E3C to agree a definition by end March 2020.
    Action 8: E3C to develop and deliver guidance for essential services owners/operators, to support contingency, continuity and resilience planning.
    Timing: The E3C to agree draft guidance by end March 2020.
    Action 9: E3C, through the Communications Task Group (CTG), to develop and test a comprehensive communications strategy for use by industry and government.
    Timing: The CTG to put forward a new strategy to the E3C by February 2020.
    Action 10: E3C, through the CTG, to develop and test revised operational protocols and frameworks for communications between wider industry during incident response scenarios.
    Timing: The CTG to put forward a new strategy to the E3C by February 2020.

  16. April 29, 2020 10:24 pm

    Every other day I spot a loaded lorry leaving the straw bale power station
    .. as its load is rejected (maybe damp)
    that is a lot of diesel being used.

  17. Graeme No.3 permalink
    April 29, 2020 10:40 pm

    I notice the heavy use of OCGT to balance the variation in ‘renewables’. As the CO2 emissions from that are much higher than from CCGT I wonder what would happen to CO2 emissions if there were no ‘renewables’ and only CCGT was in use?

  18. tom0mason permalink
    April 30, 2020 4:19 pm

    The BBC editors/production managers are advised by communists? …

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