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National Grid Hails New Interconnector Bringing Coal Power From France!

January 23, 2021

By Paul Homewood

 

h/t Joe Public

 

 The National Grid have greeted the opening of its second interconnector with a fanfare!

 

 image

After almost three years of construction – and despite coronavirus pandemic restrictions – low-carbon electricity has now started flowing at full capacity through IFA2. Our second electricity interconnector linking the UK and France takes us a step further on the journey to net zero.

Interconnexion France-Angleterre 2 (IFA2) – which stretches along the sea floor between Fareham, Hampshire in the UK and near Caen, Normandy in France – has now gone into operation, with low-carbon electricity flowing through the 149-mile subsea power cable at full capacity. Interconnectors are high-voltage electricity cables that allow us to share surplus clean energy.

https://www.nationalgrid.com/stories/engineering-innovation-stories/ifa2-low-carbon-electricity-now-flowing-through-second-uk#top

It must of course be a remarkable feat of engineering, if it can filter out all of the fossil fuel power and only let “clean” energy through!

 

In reality, the opposite is true. What we are getting is “dirty” electricity.

Let me explain.

 

So far this month, gas and coal have provided 11% of France’s generation. However, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power are always maximised on France’s grid, because they cannot be switched on and off, and because most of their costs are fixed.

Put another way, it is gas, coal and biomass which provide the MARGINAL generation required to top the fixed generation up to the total generation needed:

 

image

http://energodock.com/france/electricity-shares

 

To the extent that the two French  I/Cs add to power demand in France, this has to be met from the variable generators, coal and gas. As we can see on the chart below, there has not been even an hour this month when gas has not been generating.

image

http://energodock.com/france/electricity-generation

 

And the situation is no different in summer either.

image

Quite simply, France does not have enough nuclear and renewable power to meet its own needs, never mind have a surplus to sell to the UK.

So far this month, coal has been running at an average of 1.3 GW, and gas at 6.9 GW. The new IFA2 has a capacity of 1000 MW, so it is accurate to say that all of its output will come from coal, if those ratios are maintained.

 

Things of course are more complicated, in that France often needs to import power from elsewhere in Europe. Given that most of that is still coal and gas based, it makes an even bigger nonsense of the National Grid’s argument.

Needless to say, the National Grid are not doing this to save the polar bears, they are doing it to make money. They have contracts under the Capacity Market, under which they get paid to guarantee standby power, worth £12 million a year. They can also make money by buying in electricity at cheaper rates, not to mention exporting it as well.

Meanwhile the government can claim they have reduced emissions.

FOOTNOTE

The National Grid press release is accompanied by a maudlin video about how we need to fight climate change.

I had to laugh at this bit though!

image

43 Comments
  1. January 23, 2021 12:41 pm

    It’s the same everywhere.An increase in demand can only be met by increasing despatchable generation, which is almost exclusively gas or coal.

    Fancy calling her boyfriend “climate crisis”!

    • bobn permalink
      January 23, 2021 1:19 pm

      😉 Yep. If ‘climate crisis’ can get you pregnant; surely that’s a good thing?

    • January 23, 2021 4:18 pm

      Whoever wrote that caption has been out in the sun too long.

    • NeverReady permalink
      January 26, 2021 10:49 am

      Maybe she meant “Climbing Chris”?

  2. David A permalink
    January 23, 2021 12:43 pm

    Thanks for the post, yet a question. You stated…” However, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power are always maximised on France’s grid, because they cannot be switched on and off, and because most of their costs are fixed.”

    I thought it was because the grid is mandated to use whatever wind and solar can produce, regardless of the variability of wind and solar?

    And I thought hydro can load follow fairly well?
    Not certain what you mean on their costs are fixed?

    • January 23, 2021 1:27 pm

      It’s a bit of each, but because nuclear/wind costs are the same whether they produce or not (unlike gas which has the varaible cost of fuel), they will always be able to undercut fossil fuels.

      Here, the guaranteed prices wind power get under CfDs mean they can sell at a penny per MWh if they want, and still receive the full £150/MWh, or wahtever their guarantee is, all paid for via subsidy.

      You are right about hydro to some extent, but not when the dams are full, or when they are stream based. Again, all of the costs of hydro are fixed, so there is no point paying out for gas power.

  3. saveenergy permalink
    January 23, 2021 1:13 pm

    I looked at the video on the link … 3 1/2 mins of my life wasted … what a load of green-wash bollocks !

  4. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    January 23, 2021 1:51 pm

    Good to see it helping keep coal down to only 2.3GW on a Saturday afternoon!

    What is the logic of these i/c’s? does the operator decide which way its used or a generator by capacity on it to sell into UK market?

    • January 25, 2021 10:04 am

      UK coal is generating 8.9% of our electricity at the moment, as temperatures hover close to zero C.

  5. Peter Yarnall permalink
    January 23, 2021 2:01 pm

    I used to work with a teacher who was a member of STOPP (Teachers opposed to physical punishment). He used to send unruly kids to another teacher to get caned……
    A bit like that really!

  6. bobn permalink
    January 23, 2021 2:38 pm

    If you want to catch up with all the global cooling there are a few good posts here. Seems the snow is plentiful globally – even where its mid-summer!
    https://electroverse.net/category/extreme-weather/

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      January 23, 2021 3:38 pm

      I would take electroverse with a pinch of salt – I’m not saying it is totally spoof/fake news exactly, just very selective and hyperbolic, in my experience.

      • David A permalink
        January 23, 2021 4:02 pm

        It is, yet the cold reports are just links to real reports.

        This was interesting as well
        https://electroverse.net/bc-glaciers-28-49-thicker-than-models-estimated/

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        January 23, 2021 4:53 pm

        I look at IceAgeNow for reports on extreme cold weather usually a couple a week that don’t appear elsewhere

        https://www.iceagenow.info/

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 24, 2021 11:56 am

        My dispute with iceagenow was when it posted weather warnings or forecasts but never followed up with what actually happened, leading me to believe the answer to be ‘not much’. It is better to report what happens. I don’t see a problem with electroverse focusing on snow events since the legacy media and alarmists cherry pick anything warm, wet, windy to claim climate change. With snow and cold events, we are constantly told it is getting ever warmer so these would seem to be contrary to their claim. Yes, we know it has probably happened before but the point it we have been told it won’t happen again now or in the future.

  7. January 23, 2021 5:02 pm

    What is it with alarmists who fail to engage their brains! Relying on a foreign power who is also an economic competitor to supply our power, what could possibly go wrong?

    • MikeHig permalink
      January 23, 2021 5:45 pm

      At least it’s a relatively small part of our electricity….a much greater proprtion of our gas comes via the Continent (about 30% iirc) from Russia. Double jeopardy!
      No doubt that was taken into account when the Rough storage was closed. We are tail-end charlie in the supply chain yet we have far less storage than other countries.

      • January 23, 2021 6:58 pm

        All is not lost. We can and do receive LNG tankers and have the Grain storage terminal.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grain_LNG_Terminal

      • MikeHig permalink
        January 23, 2021 9:59 pm

        oldbrew; indeed we do import LNG. However the capacity is limited – it accounts for 10 – 15% of our consumption.
        Just to be a complete Eeyore, LNG prices are on a steep upward trend which is expected to continue as demand outstrips supply and US output may decline under Biden’s policies.

      • mjr permalink
        January 24, 2021 7:56 am

        isn’t it a pity that we don’t have a huge supply of gas underground that we could easily exploit !!!!!!

  8. Cheshire Red permalink
    January 23, 2021 5:24 pm

    I suspect Lizzies seeing the impact of the March lockdown rather more than any claimed ‘climate crisis’.

  9. It doesn't add up... permalink
    January 23, 2021 5:34 pm

    I’m sure they’re grateful, given that the BritNed connector is out of action until February 7th at least. That is of course connected to our offshore coal fired power station at Maasvlakte, which was a direct replacement for the coal fired station at Kingsnorth that didn’t get built thanks to eco-protests including from Zac Goldsmith.

    You can look at the French picture at Gridwatch:

    http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/

    The physical reality is rather more I think that we will be getting a bit more mainly nuclear power from the Pas de Calais, but elsewhere in France they will be needing other top-ups, for a less green supply. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Of course at the moment French supply is suffering from ongoing nuclear outages, so as that returns it will appear that nuclear is providing supply.

    Currently, with gas prices surging because of cold weather across the Northern hemisphere, coal is cheaper than gas for electricity generation. No wonder we are still seeing coal in our mix, despite the IFA2 supply (which has been steady at 982MW since period 42 or 8:30 p.m. yesterday).

    • January 24, 2021 9:21 am

      Mr Up,

      it doesn’t quite work that way.
      It is true to say that power flows from a source nearest the load so if a nuclear station is adjacent to the link substaion it will mostly be nuclear electricity flowing down the link, but that removes supply from France’s total grid load and the dispatchable plants will ramp up output equal to that supply taken by the U.K..
      This assumes that that station would normally feed the French grid anyway.

  10. Stonyground permalink
    January 23, 2021 7:18 pm

    France is in the EU isn’t it? How is it possible to buy power from an EU country after Brexit?

    • tomo permalink
      January 23, 2021 7:56 pm

      @Stonyground – probably because the responsible British bureaucrats “working from home” haven’t got around to designing forms to document individual electrons provenance …?

      Clown World

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      January 23, 2021 8:11 pm

      By sending them money so they can build lots of wind turbines. This lets them boast about “carbon free” generation as they shut down their nuclear plants.

    • January 23, 2021 8:11 pm

      Easy!

      If they want to sell and we want to buy.

      • Mack permalink
        January 23, 2021 8:28 pm

        Interestingly, I believe our agreements to continue using the interconnectors to the continent get renewed at around the same time as our new fishing quotas with our ‘friends’ across the pond get renewed under the Brexit deal. A cynic might suggest, bearing in mind our yawning gap in primary home based energy supply and demand, that our ‘friends’ might use this disparity to their own advantage in negotiating the new fishing quotas. Surely not?

      • January 23, 2021 10:00 pm

        It is not about sales throught the IC, only access to the wholesale market in the EU.

        France will not give up a billion worth of electricity sales, just because of a few silly EU regulations, and there is nothing to stop them selling all the power they want.

        After all, Germany is happy to import gas from Russia, who the last time I checked is not in the Single Market

        The phrase Paper Tigers springs to mind!

      • tomo permalink
        January 23, 2021 8:45 pm

        I see it’s Prysmian as the cable supplier on IFA2 – and that the description of the transmission technology has been refactored to +/- 325kV rather than the “record setting” 600kV of Western Link.

        I also see National Grid have a PR puff web site for interconnectors – that doesn’t mention Western Link… – looks like it might be the handiwork of the promo video crew too….

        Recent comments at TB wrt to the “troubled” HVDC line in the Irish Sea which it’s too easy to perceive as being memory holed?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 23, 2021 10:08 pm

      Wr’ve been buying from Ireland and Belgium as well since we left the Single Market. Once the BritNed gets going again, you can add the Netherlands.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 24, 2021 12:00 pm

      It is in the TCA to continue to have access to the Single Energy Market, but that also commits the UK to continue to sign up to all the green bullshit even if we regain our senses.

  11. ecobunk permalink
    January 23, 2021 9:06 pm

    It’s extremely simple. Consider if the Interconnector were switched off, what would be reduced in France? Not wind, solar, hydro or nuclear which always have preferential grid access, and also run at capacity. The reduction would be coal or gas, megawatt for megawatt, and therefore in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, the Interconnector is entirely fossil fuelled.

    The same applies to electric cars in most countries including the UK. Only at times when there is a surplus of supposed “zero carbon” electricity (so never – for many years yet) will they not be fossil fuel powered.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 23, 2021 10:17 pm

      There was a similar experiment the other day. Imports to France were cut, and they (and Italy) dumped 1.7GW of demand between them. The cookie can crumble in different ways across Europe.

      https://www.entsoe.eu/news/2021/01/15/system-separation-in-the-continental-europe-synchronous-area-on-8-january-2021-update/

    • January 24, 2021 9:26 am

      Ecobunk,

      I’m glad to see someone else agrees with what I have been saying for some time, and equally the mandate of heat pumps in new build will do the same.
      Not only that, with regard to heat pumps, their much vaunted efficiency is halved by the losses in generating and transmitting the power to them. All I have read bases effciency on electrical input not the energy used to produce that power at the home, which of course, it must be.

      • MikeHig permalink
        January 24, 2021 3:17 pm

        I’ll second that!
        I’ve used the same logic to show that EVs in the UK have about the same levels of CO2 emissions as modern diesels. It’s a hard sell to EV advocates!

  12. Gamecock permalink
    January 23, 2021 10:34 pm

    ‘Our second electricity interconnector linking the UK and France takes us a step further on the journey to net zero.’

    I suspect some double accounting on virtue points. Surely the producers in France have already taken credit for producing ‘low-carbon electricity.’ Not really clear how BUYING ‘low-carbon electricity’ gets you social credits. Especially considering above, that it’s not likely ‘low-carbon electricity’ anyway.

    So, you have your National Grid playing stupid games. You will win stupid prizes.

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      January 26, 2021 2:00 pm

      See my post further down: the plan is to threaten us with non-supply in five years time, to get a better fishing deal.

  13. January 24, 2021 7:37 am

    I am with Scottish Power who advertise ‘100% green electricity to your home’. This is similar to the ‘100% Pure Fresh Spring Water to your home’ deal I get from my water supplier, ‘Con A Mug’ . It’s more expensive but I feel I am doing my bit for the planet. Apparently, they pour pure fresh spring water into a reservoir (full of all the other water) and I get 100% pure fresh spring water out of my tap!!

  14. Stuart Brown permalink
    January 25, 2021 10:34 am

    …. And there it went. Nothing coming over IFA2 at the moment and IFA1 working at half power. Presumably our Gallic friends are also feeling the cold. The wind’s picking up – maybe we are about to find out if it works in reverse!

    https://www.bmreports.com/bmrs/?q=generation/fueltype

  15. January 25, 2021 11:41 am

    Breaking News. On BBC Radio Four at 7.18am today 25th January, Jonathan Brearley the Chief Exec of Ofgem, stated that he wanted to take away the authority from the National Grid for making decisions about power generation and distribution, and pass it to a new Independent body that had consumer interests at heart. JB stated that at present National Grid were faced with a difficulty, where decisions to safeguard the consumer might be at odds with the profit interests of shareholders. 1 hour 18 minutes in to the programme link here:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000rmhf

  16. Robert Christopher permalink
    January 26, 2021 1:30 pm

    A late arrival: so much for a dependable source of energy!!!

    France plots to cut off Brexit Britain from power grid to keep control over fisheries
    FRANCE’S Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian admitted the country plans to force the UK to allow control over its fisheries in 2026.
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1388995/France-Brexit-Britain-news-fisheries-fishing-trade-deal-energy-latest-update-vn

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