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Britain faces green energy disaster as lack of wind triggers new blackout warning

November 4, 2020

By Paul Homewood


From GWPF/Times:


For the second time in weeks National Grid has warned that Britain’s big onshore and offshore wind farms will be failing to deliver, generating only about 2.5GW today because of low wind speeds.

In the meantime, the costs of stabilising the national grid and avoiding catastrophic blackouts have been rising sharply, as unreliable renewables have taken a leading role in electricity supply. During the first lockdown, National Grid expected the total cost of these rescue measures to be about £2bn this year, but even that figure was based on the erroneous assumption that the country and stabilising costs would return to normal after the summer.

The time has come to pause the blind rush into a renewable energy disaster and reassess the evident technological, national security and economic costs and problems the renewable energy obsession faces.

National Grid last night sent out an urgent call for more power stations to fire up to keep Britain’s lights on today after plant outages and low wind farm output increased the risk of blackouts.

The electricity system operator issued an “margin notice”, its most serious security of supply alert in four years, warning of a supply crunch between 4:30pm and 6:30pm today.

It forecast a shortfall of 740 megawatts, or 1.5 per cent, compared with the power plant capacity it wants to have available to meet demand and to provide back-up in case plants break down.

Sources said the operator was in talks for coal-fired power stations to fire up to provide back-up. EDF confirmed it had been asked to warm up its West Burton A plant in Nottinghamshire.

National Grid said the margin notice “highlights that we would like a greater safety cushion between power demand and available supply” but “does not signal that blackouts are imminent”.

The alert and the prospect of Britain relying on polluting coal plants to keep the lights on will raise concerns about energy security. All coal plants are due to close by October 2024, while the government recently committed to a renewed push for offshore wind farms.

National Grid said that it was “forecasting tight margins on the electricity system . . . owing to a number of factors, including low renewable output and the availability of generators over periods of the day with higher demand”. It was “exploring measures to make sure there is enough generation available to increase our buffer of capacity”.


Worth pointing out the only reason there have been blackouts so far toady is that gas plants have been supplying as much as 24 GW, with coal adding an extra 2 GW.


  1. Joe Public permalink
    November 4, 2020 7:27 pm

    Typos alert, Paul:

    “Worth pointing out the only reason there have been blackouts so far toady ….” 🤣

    • ianprsy permalink
      November 4, 2020 8:23 pm

      You missed one JP/Paul: “… only reason there have been NO blackouts so far toady …”

      • Joe Public permalink
        November 4, 2020 9:05 pm

        “Typos” – plural. 😀

  2. Geoff B permalink
    November 4, 2020 7:28 pm

    Its not that cold today, what happens in January with 5 days of high pressure and no wind?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 5, 2020 10:55 am

      Wind farm owners will get millions in compo!

  3. Ian Simpson permalink
    November 4, 2020 7:50 pm

    ……It was “exploring measures to make sure there is enough generation available to increase our buffer of capacity”.

    Is that greater tapping into French nuclear or perhaps a more readily available emergency supply from Gazprom…? I am no scientist but if I can understand more wind farms = more back up capacity=more easily accessible and quickly available fuel supply= fossil fuel/nuclea, why is it so difficult for Politicians ( sorry rhetorical I know)

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      November 4, 2020 8:39 pm

      Since the cross-channel interconnector’s been working at it’s maximum 2GW, for virtually all of the past few days, then there’s nothing more to come from that source.

  4. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 4, 2020 8:29 pm

    Relying on French nuclear to bail Europe out might be a mistake, France was a net importer of electricity during September. I don’t think all the issues with their nuclear power stations.

    • November 4, 2020 9:25 pm

      In France Fessenheim 1 and 2 (2x900MWe) were closed in February and June 2020 by Macron after a previous pact between François Hollande and the greens to secure Hollande’s election. The safety authorities had validated the use of the reactors up to 2021 and 2022 respectively. Although it was Hollande’s political deals that forced the closures, it was Macron himself that made the closure ‘En Marche’ this year. Just across the border a 1100MWe coal plant (Datteln 4) was completed in 2020 to take up some of the slack. Kind of ironic bearing in mind all the oil and coal plants France has been industriously closing and mothballing (for example Porchevillle 2900MWe 2017, Aramon 1400MWe 2016, Havre 600MWe predicted closure 2021).

      Not a good plan if the U.K. to thinks France will have any spare juice to keep the lights on this winter.

  5. Phillip Bratby permalink
    November 4, 2020 9:00 pm

    Memo to Boris Johnson “We told you so”.

  6. Pancho Plail permalink
    November 4, 2020 9:05 pm

    Well, our scientifically illiterate government is well and truly screwing this country what with this, their pursuit of the rest of the green agenda, their response to Covid and the sacrificing of excellence in exchange for equality of outcome.
    I am beginning to think there is an advantage to being old as I am unlikely to witness the worst of this.

    • Tim Leeney permalink
      November 4, 2020 9:14 pm

      No, you’ve got to wait to enjoy the egg on their faces. It can’t be long now!

  7. Robert Christopher permalink
    November 4, 2020 9:51 pm

    “Sources said the operator was in talks for coal-fired power stations to fire up to provide back-up.”

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Mack permalink
      November 4, 2020 10:14 pm

      That tickled me too Robert, but not in a good way. The phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ has never seemed so apt. And winter hasn’t even arrived yet. But the madness continues. If, as it looks, Biden has ‘nicked’ the US election it’s only going to get worse. The biggest chuckles of all tonight, of course, will be coming from Beijing as they watch the West implode.

      • Robert Christopher permalink
        November 5, 2020 8:23 am

        So true! And you are only scratching the surface.

        At least we have a domestic gas supply, for now, and a gas fire!

        I wonder where all this CO2 is going to be stored, safely. Wherever it’s going, if it doesn’t stay there for longer than radioactive material needs to remain out of the way to be safe, it’s a pointless exercise. As it gets hotter the deeper you go, will it be gas when stored?
        And if it is released it will have been a waste of extra fuel to put it there, and likely deaths from asphyxiation, if an accident.

        What is so depressing is that so few have any understanding that so few understand. And at a time when we are supposed to be so educated!

  8. Devoncamel permalink
    November 4, 2020 10:12 pm

    It would be worth suffering a few major blackouts, if only to expose the stupidity an energy policy driven by politics, rather than engineering and science.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 4, 2020 10:24 pm

      There’s already massive locked in future cost consequences for consumers, the longer they manage to scrape through and don’t have to admit the current energy policy is a disaster, the worse for everyone. Our best hope is a 2-4 week beast from the east this winter.

  9. Mad Mike permalink
    November 4, 2020 10:22 pm

    Now they are relying on electric cars to supply the grid. Is my electric toothbrush safe?

    • November 4, 2020 10:30 pm

      Nobody can go anywhere under lockdown anyway, in theory. But that won’t last, unlike this type of power shortage.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 4, 2020 10:31 pm

      Love to see the figures on that, how much difference it actually made, SFA is my guess, just more ‘green’ publicity/lies pr.

      Presumably it would show up as a reduction in demand – I can’t see any significant difference in the shape of the 24hr demand graphs day to day.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        November 4, 2020 11:28 pm

        There are about 170,000 BEVs that have been registered to date. If they were all connected and donated 20kWh apiece, that would be 3.4GWh in total, but limited by a 7kW connection to a maximum of 1.19GW over under 3 hours. In practice, I think we’re probably talking about a couple of bus garages like this:

        which can offer 1MW if the buses happen to be not on the road and already charged up. Easily outgunned by the 50MW/50MWh typical grid battery.

      • ThinkingScientist permalink
        November 5, 2020 8:49 am

        MrGrimNasty – are you trying to say that employing Mad Mike’s electric toothbrush for grid storage will show up as a drop in demand in the National Grid?

        Sounds like grid connected electric toothbrushes are just the breakthrough the Greens need to make it all work.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      November 5, 2020 9:44 am

      Increased charge and discharge are lithium batteries enemy. I wonder if the owners of the EV’s realise that the life of their batteries, and because of the battery replacement cost, the life of their cars will shorten.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      November 5, 2020 12:42 pm

      Back in May there was a long article in thedriven claiming that Tesla Model 3 is equipped for V2G, which spawned a bunch of reports feeding off it.

      Of course it turned out to be fake news (though there is no warning at the head of the article)

      Update: It has come to our attention that the engineer who made the claim that Tesla is putting V2G technology in its cars may have mistaken a diode for a transistor, and therefore Tesla circuitry is not bidirectional. You can learn more about what this means here:

      The Reneweconomy mob are quite shameless.

  10. November 4, 2020 10:46 pm

    Macron is being forced to back out of Nuclear power
    What then
    Activate the smart meter cut off facility?

  11. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 4, 2020 10:46 pm

    This follows on from Sunday, 1st November, when some £5.85m was paid out in constraint payments for over 76GWh of wind constrained off (i.e. an average of over 3GW over the day). Forecasts were showing periods of over 17GW of wind power (B1440), yet outturn was under 12GW (B1630), so perhaps even more got turned off. Prices went negative overnight, although not for 6 continuous hours, so we will be paying full CFD prices for power with negative value. Pumped storage got to fill their reservoirs cheaply, and the Continent imported at negative prices – but Ireland, also with surplus wind, had to export to GB. Here’s the generation and interconnector flows:

    From feast to famine in under a week. Is this how to run a grid?

  12. Dan permalink
    November 5, 2020 12:14 am

    It did not call a triad warning so heavy Industrial users like u did not power down. So clearly not the most serious.

  13. November 5, 2020 6:41 am

    As there are so many people in the country we could all cuddle up to each other to keep warm. Oh, social distancing. That’s against the law now. Sorry.

  14. Crowcatcher permalink
    November 5, 2020 7:03 am

    Funny how the BBC doesn’t give this any publicity!
    I would love to see it be the first to be cut off, followed by parliament! 🤩

    • dave permalink
      November 5, 2020 8:08 am

      Or any “publicity!” to this rapid freeze:

      You cannot abolish winter with a whiff of carbon dioxide!

    • Mad Mike permalink
      November 5, 2020 9:49 am

      I hear that blondes are hotter than brunettes so I’ll surround myself with them if you don’t mind

  15. November 5, 2020 10:20 am

    I’m not a scientist so forgive the naive question but why aren’t they developing more SMRs ? I know Scotland is anti-nuclear but England isn’t.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 5, 2020 1:37 pm

      If Scotland is against SMRs I wonder how they live with themselves when a nuclear sub ties up in Faslane.

  16. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 5, 2020 11:53 am

    Repeat dose of shortage today

    Somehow the National Grid Winter Outlook report never seemed credible with its 16% capacity credit for wind, even with the benefit of lockdowns damaging demand.

  17. Joe Public permalink
    November 5, 2020 12:00 pm

    Scotland is only anti-nuclear until the wind doesn’t blow.

    Then, they have to import nuclear-generated electricity from England.

  18. Devoncamel permalink
    November 5, 2020 1:51 pm

    13:47 G

    Had to share this. Text is copied from email from my energy supplier.
    Feel free to comment.

    Between 4:30pm – 6:30pm today,

    National Grid will be paying fossil fuel generators as much as 10 times the normal price for electricity to meet high demand.

    We’d rather just pay to help you use less. That way the money goes to our customers, and National Grid don’t use as much fossil fuels.

    So we’re running a special trial – and you’re invited.

    If you can reduce your electricity use between 4:30pm – 6:30pm today to half of your normal amount or less, any energy you do use will be completely free.

    You normally use 1.7kWh between 4:30pm – 6:30pm on a Thursday, so use 0.85kWh or less to earn your free energy, and help ditch fossil fuels.

    Click here to switch off and ditch fossil fuels

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      November 5, 2020 3:27 pm

      So effectively the supplier is admitting that current energy policy, resulting in shortfalls, is making electricity very expensive.

      But you can make your electricity “cheaper” by….switching off.

      And of the course the irony is in the last few words: “ditch fossil fuels”. Which will of course make the problem even worse, if not terminal for reliable supply.

      • Devoncamel permalink
        November 5, 2020 4:04 pm

        I share your thoughts entirely TS.
        I wonder who’s home to switch off everything at that time? I’ll not be taking up their ‘generous’ offer.

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 5, 2020 4:55 pm

      Care to “Name ‘n Shame” your energy supplier, DC?

      • Devoncamel permalink
        November 5, 2020 6:56 pm


    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      November 5, 2020 6:32 pm

      For simplicity let’s assume that your tariff is 20p/kWh. So they think you are not going to have a cup of tea, not use the TV (well, who would in the current environment for programming?), cook supper – for the sake of 17p? And that it is worth engaging with you for that? Anyone who scrimps to that degree is unlikely to be monitoring email in the first place.

      • Devoncamel permalink
        November 5, 2020 10:14 pm

        I thought about their kind offer for a couple of seconds. Other ways of saving more money, at any time of the day or night, somehow came to mind.

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 5, 2020 9:33 pm

      Ah, the supplier which has a tariff so agile it would be imposing costs on its customers of the order of 35p/kWh on consumption between 4:30pm – 6:30pm tonight?

  19. November 6, 2020 10:04 am

    Small price to pay to save the ice in Antarctica. If all the ice in Antarctica melted it would raise sea levels by 60 meters.

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