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UK Consumers Face £2-3 Billion Annual Bill To Prevent Green Energy Blackouts

June 10, 2020

By Paul Homewood



John Constable has a new report out on the rapidly rising bill to prevent power blackouts:


London, 10 June — The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is today publishing a collection of papers by energy expert Dr John Constable, documenting the rapid decay of the UK electricity system, with system balancing costs spiralling out of control over the last few weeks.

The cost of balancing the grid over the Bank Holiday weekend amounted to £50m, and National Grid has predicted additional costs of £700m from May to August alone. It has taken desperate measures in an attempt to reduce the bill, but according to expert observers, these may well prove futile.
GB system balancing costs have been rising sharply over recent decades, as inflexible renewables have taken a leading role in electricity supply, driven by £10 billion a year of subsidies and price-fixing arrangements. In 2002 system balancing cost £367m, but by 2019 it had risen to just under £1.5bn, a level that was expected to be sustained this year.
However, because wind and solar can’t respond to the low demand caused by lockdown, National Grid now expects the total to be about £2bn, and even that figure is based on the optimistic assumption that costs return to normal after August.
If the lockdown runs on into the autumn, the cost could easily rise by hundreds of millions more, and a prolonged post-Covid recession could mean consumers having to foot this bill for many years to come.
Dr Constable, author of the GWPF study, said:
“Renewables have been undermining the UK electricity system for years, with National Grid propping up a tottering system with vast piles of consumer cash. The Covid-19 lockdown has caused a balancing cost surge and revealed this green appeasement policy as unsustainable. The UK’s fragile renewables-based system can barely deal with the expected; a surprise causes a crisis.”
Dr Constable added:
“If demand remains low during the post-Covid recession the multi-billion pound costs of managing and subsidising renewables must be recovered from a much smaller volume of sales. That is a recipe for rapid and abrupt price rises, the like of which the British public have never seen. Enough is enough. In what everyone agrees is a very difficult moment the national interest demands a cost minimisation strategy for electricity, based on gas and nuclear.”


The full paper is here.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    June 10, 2020 4:10 pm

    “The cost of balancing the grid over the Bank Holiday weekend amounted to £50m, and National Grid has predicted additional costs of £700m from May to August alone.”

    Only £700m?

    National Grid ESO – 22nd May 2020 – Energy security:

    “The costs we incur in balancing the system are recovered through a charge known as Balancing Services Use of System charges (BSUoS).

    As BSUoS costs are paid by industry participants, they are ultimately included in end consumers bills.

    Therefore, we want to provide as much transparency as possible on these costs.

    For summer 2019 (May-August) BSUoS charges were £333.2m. We are currently forecasting a ~£500m rise for the same period this year.

    So £833.2m this year just for BSUoS

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 10, 2020 8:07 pm

      No, not this year – just May to August so it will be even more.

  2. JimW permalink
    June 10, 2020 4:13 pm

    The problem is that the message of indoctrination is that all this is a price worth paying. The days of economic decisions are over, its now based on what makes ‘us’ feel better. There are direct links to statues and face masks. Its all part of the same continuous movement.
    The days of logic and facts are fast slipping away.
    The ‘truth’ is whatever the ‘left’ want it to be. I say ‘left’ but it could be anything, its whatever the ‘controllers’ want it to be. Its a return to feudalism.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      June 11, 2020 9:27 am

      But, but, but wind’s the cheapest form of energy!

  3. Mack permalink
    June 10, 2020 4:16 pm

    Just when Boris wants to ramp up his ‘green surge recovery’ from Lockdown, existing green policies are going to send energy prices soaring amid blackouts and brown outs and there won’t be any shekels left in the coffers to subsidise price caps for the great unwashed. Alongside the Soros, Antifa, BLM inspired neo-Marxist cultural revolution playing out on our streets, and with plod away with the fairies and the increasing Isis-ization of western civilization, it doesn’t augur well for us all. Oh, and as someone once said, ‘winter is coming’…

    • Athelstan. permalink
      June 10, 2020 4:45 pm

      Happy days Mack and the clouds just keep rolling in, it’s going to be a humdinger this time, we are in the eye of it just now but the Cat 5+++ is winding up to hit us and after that, metaphorically, physically, literally it’s izal time.

  4. Joe Public permalink
    June 10, 2020 4:23 pm

    Q1: Who wouldn’t welcome Nat Grid having a “new approach will save consumers up to £128 million over the six-year period”?

    Q2: Who would welcome Nat Grid spending £328 million over the six-year period on a new approach which will save consumers ONLY £128 million over the six-year period?

    National Grid ESO 29th January 2020:

    “National Grid ESO outline new approach to stability services in significant step forwards towards a zero-carbon electricity system”

    The key service to be provided is inertia. The service provided for free as a supplementary benefit by coal, nukes, pumped-hydro and gas-fired plant (and also by biomass plant)

  5. June 10, 2020 4:27 pm

    The main problem is getting the message through to the people who make the decisions – civil servants, government ministers and the financiers.

    The civil service is now second-rate and ideologically driven. As far as energy and climate change are concerned, the Conservative Party and hence the government appears to be in the hands of climate activists, with an energy adviser in No 10 who has a 2:2 in PPE from Durham, and is a former employee of the climate change lobby group, the Conservative Environment Network, which is owned, financed and run by Ben Goldsmith.

    We are doomed.

  6. Athelstan. permalink
    June 10, 2020 4:39 pm

    a false premise, a claque of jejune/Idiot politicians, ruinable moonbeam power delusion, an aging grid and the law of unintended meltdown. Mr. Constable knows how it ‘works’ and it doesn’t paint a pleasant picture . not one bit.

    As we lurch from one sticking plaster emergency onto the next accident waiting to happen. One wonders really how all the plates are still spinning and if you’ll please excuse the pun. Of course we all know, that, soon something really nasty will happen. With the present political situation growing more tense by the hour, imagine a major blackout, and if street chaos and violence isn’t quite the norm just yet. A prolonged blackout would be literallly, mayhem in disaster and murder.

  7. Geoff B permalink
    June 10, 2020 4:41 pm

    I have spent most of the afternoon reading the report, it is an excellent review of the futility of expecting intermittent asynchronous electricity generation (wind, solar and interconnectors) to provide reliable electricity. In particular page 14 Increasing electricity system fragility quotes national grid reports indicating how wind and solar are going to reduce the grid reliability, what I cannot understand is why national grid are not yelling this from the rooftops. I guess they just take the money and run.
    The other bit that I liked was page 34 Fuel poverty and electricity policy costs, particular page 38 a criticism of the useless OFGEM, particularly their knew CEO. Here is my comment on OFGEM on a recent Telegraph article on electricity costs.

    eoff Be
    9 Jun 2020 1:35PM
    OFGEM have been totally useless since it was created. Originally supposed to prevent consumers being fleeced by the utility companies colluding and overcharging. OFGEM are now the major cause of higher electricity bills. Allowing National Grid to make enormous returns on capital, the system of subsidising so called renewables (intermittents) with Renewable Obligation Certificates and Contracts for Differences, together with with paying constraint payments to wind farms to NOT generate. The smart meter fiasco is largely down to them, They also approved many new suppliers without checking their financial stability who have subsequently gone bust owing OFGEM the subsidies. OFGEM simply charged this loss to all customers. To make matters worse the new CEO, Jonathan Brearley wrote ED Millibands climate change act so no chance of any common sense approach to reducing costs.

    I would suggest that all these green costs are itemised separately on our bills so we all aware of how much we are paying.

    Great Minds think alike.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      June 10, 2020 7:30 pm

      I thought Bryony Worthington wrote the CCA. Perhaps it was a double-hander…

  8. June 10, 2020 4:49 pm

    Note how batteries are portrayed in the useless media as solving the intermittency problem, but the fact is that they merely reduce the stability problem, they cannot fix an absence of power.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      June 10, 2020 5:40 pm

      I think we should push for proper reporting of the activities of grid batteries. There are now enough of them for it no longer to be a competitive issue. Besides, the Australians freely reported on Musk’s Big South Australian Battery from the outset. Instead we have to make do with murky insinuations in some of the reporting on the August blackout that batteries didn’t perform up to scratch in accordance with their contracts.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        June 10, 2020 10:23 pm

        We live with an AC grid. Batteries are DC stores. Now start trying to explain reactive power to average Jo Public…….see the problem?

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 11, 2020 1:03 pm

        I think it is quite useful to be able to see what the BSAB is doing. For example this, at 5 minute resolution:

        or this:

        You can click on the legend squares to add and subtract sources from the chart. They puny contribution of the battery to smoothing supply as generation fluctuates becomes apparent immediately.

  9. Stuart Brown permalink
    June 10, 2020 5:58 pm

    And then there’s this out today as well:
    “New cost-competitive nuclear power must make a significant contribution to meeting increased demand for low-carbon electricity, the Nuclear Innovation Research and Advisory Board (Nirab) says in a new report for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It would be prudent to plan for nuclear energy to provide at least half of the firm low-carbon electricity not provided by renewables”

    Being facetious, that last sentence amuses me. Implying that renewables provide some ‘firm low-carbon electricity’ and nuclear should provide half of the rest? So that would be 0GW and nuclear providing the same power as hydro. Or the same as Drax. Either way that’s not actually a lot.

    But will Alok Sharma listen? He’s an accountant with a physics degree – one can hope.

  10. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 10, 2020 7:42 pm

    The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should really be renamed, the Department for Business, Industry and Energy Strategy (BIES) on the principle that for Industry and Business to prosper they need a decent energy strategy that is capable of being decent, honest and truthful – and most of all, cost-effective. But then, I note the ability of pigs to grow wings…

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      June 10, 2020 8:24 pm

      As opposed to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Sabotage.

    • Joe Public permalink
      June 11, 2020 10:56 am

      Harry, surely it should be renamed, the Department for Livelihoods, Industry and Energy Strategy (LIES) on the principle that that accurately reflects its output.

  11. Stuart Brown permalink
    June 10, 2020 7:54 pm

    I’ve just learned a new word – ‘dunkelflaute’ (h/t Paul McArdle, The fear of having inadequate sunshine or wind to maintain a viable supply of renewable energy. explains why this is really not a problem, honest.

    “Picture hydropower from Sweden, solar energy from Spain, or wind parks in the North Sea: A densely-meshed power grid will help balance out many grid instabilities.”

    I read blogs like this to puncture my bubble – but I’m not sure it’s helping my lockdown mental health 😦

    • Russ Wood permalink
      June 13, 2020 11:20 am

      The well-known response: “the wind is always blowing SOMEWHERE” has been proved, in Australia and Europe, to be a ‘terminological inexactitude’ i.e. a lie! When an anticyclone settles (as they frequently do in winter) wind all over the area stops blowing. And since this often corresponds with cold, cloudy weather, such a weather (WEATHER – NOT CLIMATE!) system effectively puts a stopper on ‘ruinable’ power over a very wide area,

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 10, 2020 8:11 pm

    German record temperature under investigation?

    About time the MO retracted the Gravesend 2011 October record too after they closed the station for being compromised?

    “It’s a real shame because it always put Gravesend on the map by recording the highest temperatures in the country. It’s been there as long as I can remember.”

    Yes we noticed! It’s been dodgy way back to the record and before.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      June 10, 2020 10:28 pm

      I may be wrong here but are you referring to the “Broadness” site which the Met Office liked to call Gravesend despite being nearer to Dartford? If so that station only started in 1997 and is now closed.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        June 10, 2020 10:41 pm

        Obviously, if you read the link!

  13. Mack permalink
    June 10, 2020 9:19 pm

    Thought Gravesend first gained notoriety as the end of the line for medieval victims of the Black Death, whose corpses were transported from London and dumped in the locality. It was also latterly renowned for the enthusiasm and proclivity of the local highwaymen. Seems a rather apt place to bury dodgy weather statistics, hijacked by modern scientific brigands, too!

  14. Tony Budd permalink
    June 10, 2020 9:35 pm

    I still think it would be better to remove solar- and wind-based generation from the grid completely and use it solely to generate hydrogen by electrolysis: not tremendously cost-effective at present, but could be massively improved. It would then supply the fuel for gas-powered generation, vehicles, aircraft, etc.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      June 11, 2020 1:13 pm

      Is it ever going to be cost effective? The hydrolysis plant can only operate intermittently, reducing its effective capacity factor, and its efficiency. Such plants operate best with a constant supply at design capacity. Are you going to design to absorb peak output from your renewables system, or to curtail because it is completely uneconomic to do that? Curtailing produces its own costs. Add in the round trip losses which are substantial.

  15. Devoncamel permalink
    June 10, 2020 10:00 pm

    The unquestioning appeasement of the green blob led to the net zero carbon policy, which will cost the UK billions. Is there any other nation of significance that has a similar policy?

  16. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 10, 2020 10:17 pm

    At long last I have just watched Michael Moore’s ‘Planet of the Humans’ and been blown away by the sheer strength of argument in it (against renewables). After YT canned it I found it here at
    I’m glad I did, as I only put it off because of my antipathy for Moore. In any other time he would have won awards for it. I especially liked the take down of billionaire Gore and how he had made his money.

  17. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 10, 2020 10:29 pm

    I know it’s not a new story:

    But check out the comments, dozens of:-

    “This comment was removed because it broke the house rules.”

    Must be hard work for the moderators suppressing the truth, poor souls.

  18. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 11, 2020 12:12 pm

    Onshore Wind inclusion in CfD auctions ‘protest’ letter. Warning, Scotland singled out again – please do not take offence to fact! The letter is linked from this GWPF entry.

  19. James Broadhurst permalink
    June 11, 2020 10:43 pm

    I really admire Constable. He and Colin Gibson who gets a mention around page 25 are two people who we depend on. Constable’s theory about the relationship between productivity and power consumption is not a theory but a fact. During the Thatcher years companies such as the one I worked for were acquired by overseas companies who invested heavily because, I was told, the price of electricity, then at £0.035/kwhr, was their yardstick for manufacturing investment and thus productivity.

  20. James Broadhurst permalink
    June 11, 2020 11:42 pm

    The last section of Constable’s paper headed “The Decline and Fall of Ofgem” is in the “you couldn’t make this up” category and is horrifying.

  21. June 13, 2020 6:57 am

    “the rapidly rising bill to prevent power blackouts”

    Costly climate action to control atmospheric composition without the evidence that atmospheric composition is sensitive to fossil fuel emissions.

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