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UK Relying On Europe For A Fifth Of Its Power

August 22, 2021

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dennis Ambler




We’re currently relying on Europe for 16% of our electricity, as wind power plummets once again. Last night the proportion reached 20% as solar power disappeared.

Our thousands of wind turbines have a theoretical capacity of 24 GW, but are running at less than 2GW. Yet we plan to double that capacity in the next few years.

Are there any grown ups in charge of our energy policy?

  1. August 22, 2021 9:51 am

    Oh, dear. And winter is coming early this year.

  2. Ben Vorlich permalink
    August 22, 2021 9:55 am

    I see gridwatch recently added a Norwegian interconnector so things can only get worse.

    How much electricitydoes Norway import? Presumably they have a lot of pumped storage? Would it be cheaper for us to pay the Norwegian grid to take our excess wind electricity than paying windfalls not to produce it. Or is that too much to hope for

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 22, 2021 11:03 am

      I think the Norwegian grid is saturated with cheap excess Danish wind power already for which in return they charge them through the nose for hydro-power when the wind doesn’t blow.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 22, 2021 1:21 pm

        The Norwegian grid has been through some interesting times. Last year, a combination of low demand in lockdown, good snowmelt and broken interconnectors left it with overful hydro reservoirs and close to zero prices. Over the turn of the year a new interconnector of 1.4GW was opened directly with Germany, which has has the effect of jerking prices up to German levels.

        The connection to the UK will only make matters worse for them. For a country so heavily dependent on electricity, high prices will be crippling for consumers. Only when we get to the point of generating surplus wind will they get some relief. But probably not much because Germany is headed for structural electricity shortage, so they will gevsucking power via Denmark and the Netherlands as well.

        There are a series of very interesting analyses of the Nordic countries’ electricity supply at P-F Bach’s site.

        Download the short papers. Recommended reading,

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 22, 2021 1:37 pm

        Denmark averaged 26% of import cost for its export sales in 2020. The UK saw months when exports were of negative value.

      • Duker permalink
        August 23, 2021 12:57 am

        Hydro dams can ‘spill’ excess water without it going through turbines. Its a design feature

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 22, 2021 1:34 pm

      Norway has almost no pumped storage. They simply switch off hydro generators when importing, so as not to waste power pumping water uphill. Last year they had too much in the reservoirs. This year is different (see P-F Bach linked below). Renewables are unreliable even when you have an enormous hydro resource.

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        August 22, 2021 10:20 pm

        Sweden has only one pumped storage unit but it no longer works as such. When Germany (and Denmark) have excess wind generation they have to get rid of it by the classic method of dropping the price, but it still doesn’t pay the Swedes to use it “for pumping water uphill” as they don’t benefit from the high prices in Germany (and Denmark) because they are boosted by local taxes (subsidies for renewables) which they don’t get, so the ‘arbitrage’ isn’t enough.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 22, 2021 10:30 pm

        Sweden is getting ts own problems with surplus wind and insufficient transmission capacity to move the output to market. Further problems will come as they close nuclear power.

        Click to access pfb_markets_challenged_by_wind_and_hydro_variations_2021_08_15.pdf

  3. John Cullen permalink
    August 22, 2021 10:09 am

    And now it seems that the “climate science” that has led the West to adopt these hugely expensive renewables technologies is based upon a fundamentally flawed statistical methodology. See Ross McKitrick’s analysis at Judith Curry’s site:-

    Just when are Western leaders going to wake up to the fact that they have been led into an energy dead end? My answer is, “No time soon if the greens and their rich & influential allies in the media have anything to do with it.”


    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 22, 2021 11:06 am

      They will only learn when a disaster happens and with the people demanding their heads for inaction. You can’t teach our morons anything. I was not surprised to read that the waste of space and our taxes, Raab read only 20% of his briefing papers.

    • Terence Carlin permalink
      August 22, 2021 6:38 pm

      thank you for the link and Judith’s web site

  4. JimW permalink
    August 22, 2021 10:11 am

    Nope, not for years, acually decades.
    Security of Supply used to be a very important national issue, which the CEGB used to have as a fundamental target. Gone, along with the brain cells.

  5. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    August 22, 2021 10:12 am

    Mr Nut Nut PM’s insanity is showing.

    • Julian Flood permalink
      August 23, 2021 9:56 am

      Urban Dictionary has “Numnuts or num-nuts is a slang term that is used to depict someone who is a constant source of trouble. Usually an individual who screws up, or constant makes mistakes. Someone who botches a job, event, or situation.” This is much more applicable to out Beloved Leader. Her husband, one hopes, had access to Numnuts, a product designed to make castration less painful.


  6. GeoffB permalink
    August 22, 2021 10:24 am

    We do not export much power to Europe, the only time that we have spare wind power is at the dead of night and there is no demand on the continent at this time, Continental peak demand is early morning, particularly in winter as a lot of resistive heating is used, so maybe that might be useful. Anyone know what imported power costs and how much we get when we sell? I get this message most days from BM reports, but i have no idea what it means.

    ELEXON Portal
    Email Alert
    You are receiving this email because you subscribed to receive email alerts when BMRS System Warnings are published. A new system warning has been published by National Grid (time published in GMT). The System Warning is:

    2021-08-21 13:26:17

    NATIONAL GRID NOTIFICATION of excess energy prices used for settlement outside of BALIT for SO to SO Transactions over the National Grid/RTE Interconnector. Prices cover 23:00Hrs Today to 05:00Hrs Tomorrow (UK local time) and are in Euro/MWh. From RTE: Offer 350.00; Bid 0.00 From NGC: Offer 350.00; Bid -180.00 Prices cover 05:00Hrs Tomorrow to 19:00Hrs Tomorrow (UK local time) and are in Euro/MWh. From RTE: Offer 350.00; Bid 0.00 From NGC: Offer 350.00; Bid 0.00 Prices cover 19:00Hrs Tomorrow to 23:00Hrs Tomorrow (UK local time) and are in Euro/MWh. From RTE: Offer 350.00; Bid 0.00 From NGC: Offer 350.00; Bid -180.00

  7. stevejay permalink
    August 22, 2021 10:27 am

    The West is cutting its own throat by following insane policies instigated by corrupt panels and bureaucrats. Who will invade us first, the Chinese or the Russians ?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 22, 2021 11:08 am

      The Chinese. There is no chance of the Russians doing any such thing and they are talked up only to hide that China is the real threat.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      August 22, 2021 6:28 pm

      Nobody will be invading us.

      • Duker permalink
        August 23, 2021 12:52 am

        Yes, this invasion thing is long outdated

        The Chinese are following the long successful Ventian Republic methods, trade comes first and to that ends establish trading outposts inimportatnt cities.
        The Hanseatic league would have had similar approach and even had a trading post or Kontor in London, allowed by henry II
        ‘And on the red-brick wall of the Cannon Street railway bridge sits a plaque unveiled in 2005, commemorating “600 years during which time some 400 Hanseatic merchants inhabited peacefully in the City of London… a German self-governing enclave on this site”. BBC

  8. August 22, 2021 11:07 am

    Reblogged this on Roald J. Larsen and commented:
    No, there’s no grown ups in charge, only weak, uneducated leftists ..

  9. Joe Public permalink
    August 22, 2021 11:17 am

    Arguably the most telling evidence of how poorly wind has performed this year, is how low our natural gas stock is today.

    Britain has <30GWh of electricity storage, our gas industry is still desperately attempting to refill our 30,000GWh of gas storage.

    Scroll down to bottom of this page:

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      August 22, 2021 12:17 pm

      This is the real issue that the media haven’t clocked onto yet, although my supplier has whacking my bill up 20% from September, that as soon as we get cold spell with high pressure over northern Europe those interconnectors will be worthless and gas will come under pressure forcing CCGTs off the system with barely any coal to call upon we will see the diesel peakers running flat out. So that may get us through this winter but following winter we will have no coal probably and the rest of the West is also on an accelerated coal decline with gas rapidly backfilling pressure on supply will be an annual reoccurring issue. Unfortunately, I suspect nothing short of a system collapse is going to get anyone to wake up to the perilous situation confronting us.

      They need to get on an order more nuclear if they are going to persist with this decarbonisation policy.

      Oh and looking at there ain’t much renewable coming via those interconnectors only French nuclear keeping the CO2 content down.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 22, 2021 4:45 pm

        Hi Nicholas, you forgot to add that Hunterston B will shut down 7th January 2022 so almost another 1000MW down the pan just when we need it the most.
        The Britned interconnector makes landfall on the Isle of Grain in Kent, and on the other end of it is this
        So much for we don’t burn coal anymore claims!

      • August 22, 2021 9:28 pm

        Face up to it, we are in great trouble largley because of our suppossed government , totally lost and totaly illitereat, God help us if we have a bad winter! forget greenery, it will not happen!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 22, 2021 1:48 pm

      It’s a combination of factors. Tight gas supply in the Continent as Groningen production winds down and while they wait for Nordstream 2, plus strong demand from Asia for LNG cargoes and reduced exports from the US courtesy Biden. A cold winter and poor performance of renewables left stocks abnormally low in Europe in the Spring. It could be a long cold lonely winter. Winter NBP gas prices are over £1 per therm, triple last winter.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 23, 2021 4:45 pm

        You may have to reset the charting interval from 1m(inute) to weekly for best effect. Perhaps this version will do:

        Note the price is in $/MMBtu (for easy comparison to US prices). To convert to p/therm, divide by 10 and by the $/£ exchange rate, currently around $1.36. Divide again by 29.3 or ~30 to get £/kWh.

    • Julian Flood permalink
      August 23, 2021 8:44 am

      These graphs deserve maximum publicity, especially during the Project Fear season in the run up to COP26.

      Call Me Matt very nearly ran us out of gas when he was Minister for Energy and Climate Change. What’s the name of the patsy when this time the band really stops playing?


  10. Gerry, England permalink
    August 22, 2021 11:22 am

    GWPF piece ‘Bruno Prior: Employment for economists’ touches on this and is a good read.

  11. CheshireRed permalink
    August 22, 2021 11:33 am

    Gas is the obvious solution, even if only short-term while cleaner alternatives become viable.

    Safe to say Germany and others wouldn’t think twice about using their own gas.

    I also suspect this is a deliberate policy designed to both artificially reduce UK produced carbon emissions and trap UK into closer arrangements with EU, without actually admitting as much.

    It makes UK dependent on EU largesse and cooperation. We saw the consequences of that when fishing access rights were used to hold UK to ransom for undersea interconnector electricity supplies.

    A total travesty that can only be explained as being entirely deliberate.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      August 22, 2021 2:40 pm

      Yep. 1000 upticks.

  12. Eddy Barrows permalink
    August 22, 2021 11:34 am

    How can Britain pretend that Boris’s version of Brexit restored our national independence and how can Boris pretend that he will get tough on the EU over Northern Ireland when France can whenever they wish deprive us of 16% of our energy needs at the flickof a switch?

    • CheshireRed permalink
      August 22, 2021 4:43 pm

      Exactly. No Brexit-voting independent UK supporter would agree to such an absurd position.
      It transfers trade, economic or political negotiating leverage FROM the UK TO the EU.

      Given it’s the opposite of what an independent nation would do such an act of treachery can only be explained as being deliberate.

      • Adam Gallon permalink
        August 22, 2021 6:42 pm

        Welcome to the real world.
        The reality of Brexit.
        The advantages always rested with the EU, the larger party, the one we depend upon for the majority of our trade, both imports & exports.
        The leverage was always with them, outside of the deluded minds of the “They need us, more than we need them” Daily Express subscribers.

      • August 22, 2021 9:27 pm


        That the smaller party can often outwit the larger party can be seen with the US and both the Taliban and Vietnam.

        We were also able to get our vaccine programme started faster due to our flexibility.

        So yours is purely a remainers political is apparent the whole of the west are determined to race each other to the cliff and throw ourselves over it. It will be much easier to persuade a govt we directly vote for to change its energy course than the supertanker of the EU

  13. August 22, 2021 11:42 am

    We have hundreds of years worth of King Coal, just sitting there waiting for all the gweenie global warming nonsense to run out of steam. We COULD be piling up millions of tons in preparation for when WE really need it.

    • GeoffB permalink
      August 22, 2021 12:03 pm

      We could also make town gas with the coal, it is 50% hydrogen, 35% Methane , I believe that hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Also we get coke for making steel. As well as converting Drax back to coal, it would actually be greener than burning imported wood chips. What’s not to love with coal.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        August 22, 2021 1:45 pm

        Hydrogen is more up the lunatic scale than wind or solar with no green solution that doesn’t need 2-3 times more energy input for what you get out. At least with solar and wind you will reach a point where the energy required to manufacture/construct it in the first place will be paid off but green hydrogen is just an energy sink. The politicians really have no idea but I suppose they are kicking the can down the road for as long as they can.

      • Robert Christopher permalink
        August 22, 2021 2:12 pm

        “I believe that hydrogen is the fuel of the future.”

        I haven’t yet seen a credible argument for that, a system that could be used by the public without subsidy, in safety, so you need to supply one if you want it to progress any further.

      • Dan permalink
        August 22, 2021 3:14 pm

        Town gas, or coke oven gas, is particularly dirty and expensive. And currently thee are only 4 licences in the UK for coke ovens; two at port Talbot and two at Scunthorpe.

        The UK does have coking coal deposits. The mist viable, up in the north east, has somewhat high sulphur so could only be part of a blend, not an insurmountable issue. More likely the UK should be doing something with eafs to tackle the (last I looked) 7 million tonnes of scrap it exports. High electricity prices tho.

      • GeoffB permalink
        August 22, 2021 3:37 pm

        Robert Christopher Hydrogen from coal was a bit tongue in cheek, Blue, Green hydrogen from methane or electrolysis is not going to be viable, but Alok Sharma, Kwasi Kwarteng and of course Boris are singing its praises and throwing money at it.

    • Eddy Barrows permalink
      August 22, 2021 12:03 pm

      And we also have vast quantities of shale gas if only our government was brave enough to stand up to the lunatic agitation that appears whenever a site is opened.

      • Vernon E permalink
        August 22, 2021 5:43 pm

        No, Eddy, we don’y have any viable shale gas. Its been proved. Our shale is impermeable.

      • MikeHig permalink
        August 22, 2021 7:08 pm

        Vernon E: do you some reliable references for “we don’y have any viable shale gas. Its been proved. Our shale is impermeable.”?
        I was under the impression that our shale exploration had been stymied by ludicrous seismic constraints. I didn’t realise there had been enough test drilling etc to reach any firm conclusions.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 22, 2021 9:00 pm

        Vernon E

        BGS say this:

  14. August 22, 2021 11:43 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    UK theoretical ‘windmill’ capacity = 24GW, but is running at less than 2GW.

    Windmills are your enemy, not the fossil fuel tech that happens to create and sustain, symbolic UNreliables.

    The real enemy of ‘sustainability’, is symbolism itself.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 22, 2021 7:37 pm

      As George Carlin once said “symbols are for the symbol minded”

  15. August 22, 2021 11:48 am


  16. heriotjohn permalink
    August 22, 2021 1:04 pm

    Has anyone else noted one clause in the Deal between the SNP and the Greens?
    “Deliver 8-12 GW of Onshore wind generation by 2030.”
    Current situation in Scotland is
    6.5 GW Operational
    1.6 GW under construction
    2.5 GW Consented
    2.6 GW In Planning

    So roughly double current potential output by Onshore wind in Scotland — without looking Offshore. Now what will that do the supply situation, given how bad it is currently?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 22, 2021 1:55 pm

      Presumably it will kill off a large chunk of tourism. The problems for Scotland are that it looks as though they will lose both Torness and Hunterston nuclear power stations, leaving them dependent on the CCGT at Peterhead and imports from England when the wind doesn’t blow. A subsidiary problem is that already the Beauly-Denny line is at capacity when the wind blows, and further wind farms will simply spend time collecting constraint payments rather than generating anything useful. Whether English bill payers would be content to pay out these subsidies for nothing is perhaps an interesting question.

  17. Ray Sanders permalink
    August 22, 2021 5:15 pm

    I winder if it is possible to get politicians to understand basics? Interconnectors DO NOT generate electricity. Hydrogen is an energy CARRIER not an energy source. It seems everyone is forgetting the important first bit that you have to have the power plants making the electricity.

    • Duker permalink
      August 23, 2021 1:12 am

      Its even more concerning than that. Interconnectors only will work if you maintain a stable localised grid to receive power- it will be computer disconnected in an instant if its not.
      As well you need reserve standby to allow for bigger outages , in the country where I live we have an ‘internal interconnector’ with a 600km HVDC powerline. The critical part is now 1400MW but normally doesnt go much above 750MW as the standby reserve capacity at the recieving end in case of a major fault doesnt allow it higher.
      Reserve capacity normally can only be used in transmission emergency not because prices are high or demand ‘exceeds’ supply ( of course supply matches demand at all times but extra dispatchable demand isnt always available)

  18. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 22, 2021 5:45 pm

    And remember, last winter when there was a supply crunch one cold morning, the French inter-connector supplied us with zilch for several hours – they prioritized their own needs first (quelle surprise).

  19. August 22, 2021 7:15 pm

    I’m hoping that we will get a Europe wide blackout soon to bring people to their senses while there is still time to take a step backwards and do something to stop it from happening again

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 22, 2021 7:40 pm

      I am actually trying to write a book (albeit rather slowly) about a group deliberately causing a UK wide blackout. It actually is not that difficult providing you can co-ordinate enough people into simultaneous (perfectly legal) actions.

  20. John OReilly-Cicconi permalink
    August 22, 2021 8:59 pm

    NO ________________________________

  21. August 22, 2021 10:02 pm

    We’re currently relying on Europe for 16% of our electricity

    Is ‘relying’ necessarily the right word, i.e. do we know if the prices paid are above or below the cost of generating more from gas power stations? In short, are imports undercutting gas? At the moment we’re getting 50% from gas and 17.3% from imports but gas can go above 60% sometimes, depending on total requirement.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 22, 2021 11:51 pm

      Our day ahead prices have been running consistently above Europe’s at over £100/MWh. I think that MPP3’s coal is fully competitive via BritNed, despite a €57/t CO2 carbon price – coal is much cheaper than gas, although its prices have also surged. Likewise French and Belgian nuclear. The map here is a handy way to look at current prices across Europe (may need to refresh for trading dates)

      You can piece together some history via the Nordpool site

      Note UK prices are a separate section. Set currency to GBP for the latest data.

      • August 23, 2021 1:49 pm

        Thanks. Joe Public’s earlier comment about UK gas storage, or lack of it at present, also looks relevant.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        August 23, 2021 2:22 pm

        Timera also saying gas storage across Europe is below last years levels currently mind you they still have coal and lignite to fall back on. They do say though if Nord Stream 2 comes on line later this year that will alleviate supply issues but with wind so poor for several more weeks according NG’s forward forecast there going to have less spare gas to divert into storage. Me thinks the scene is being set for at least the headlines to be able to howl “Britain on the brink of running out of Gas and Electricity” when we have a cold spell and hope it kick starts a few more people to challenge whats going on.

      • August 23, 2021 7:07 pm

        Gas supplies are a bit tight at the moment due to problems in Russia and other factors. Maybe that’s making UK power suppliers think about the winter, so again our current ‘reliance’ on imports of electricity may not be exactly what it seems at first glance.

        Europe Faces LNG Supply Crunch
        Aug 20, 2021

  22. Graeme No.3 permalink
    August 22, 2021 10:33 pm

    There was an author called Lewis Carroll who might have explained UK electricity policy, but perhaps not as he was “noted for his word play, LOGIC, and fantasy. At least he had 2 (out of 3) of the necessary abilities.

  23. Julian Flood permalink
    August 23, 2021 8:51 am

    Paul, a version of this piece deserves greater exposure. I know TCW is read by some of our leaders and they could probably just about understand Joe Public’s graphs about storage for winter.

    My nightmare for years has been a continental blocking high with fig and low stratus from Denmark to Spain. Still, that nice Mr Putin will sell us lots of gas, surely?

    We are ruled by STEM-illiterate charlatans and peacocks. There will be a reckoning.

  24. Julian Flood permalink
    August 23, 2021 10:02 am

    These graphs deserve maximum publicity, especially during the Project Fear season in the run up to COP26.

    Call Me Matt very nearly ran us out of gas when he was Minister for Energy and Climate Change. What’s the name of the patsy when this time the band really stops playing?


  25. August 23, 2021 12:27 pm

    You only have to look at the background of the cabinet to see why energy policy is such a disaster.
    Then, of course, there is Mrs Johnson.

  26. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 23, 2021 1:19 pm

    It is now accepted that the idea that the wind is always blowing somewhere does not give the UK wind farms any guarantee, and commonly long periods occur without winds or much sun in the UK. Our power system then depends on stored and imported gas whose future price is not in the UKs control. 20 years ago the UK energy system was effectively self-sufficient and could not be threatened by other powers (or, of course, the unions), we now depend on the “goodwill” (i.e. willingness to trade without restrictions) of the USA and Europe; certainly not a secure situation.

    A report by the DBEIS was submitted to parliament in 2019 called “Statutory Security of Supply Report 2019”, this report was basically a whitewash report covering only the next year of supply with no longer term view and it concluded that the UK was secure regarding gas and electrical supply …… for the next year

    What is clear is that before 2004 the UK had secure power, (i.e. coal + nuclear offered close to the maximum demand of the time) it now has only 19 GW, far below the maximum demand. Even gas storage is also reducing (although we have increased the storage of LNG).

  27. Ray Sanders permalink
    August 24, 2021 1:15 pm

    As a footnote we are currently importing from the Netherlands electricity with a “carbon footprint” nearly double that of our own available gas generation.

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      August 24, 2021 3:25 pm

      Does NG go on price or CO2 footprint when deciding what the merit order is?

  28. Athelstan permalink
    August 25, 2021 5:39 pm

    I geddit now. The plan is to have no generation of note in the UK bar whirlygigs for show and import all our lecky at exorbitant cost – brilliant stuff and when the lights go out, we can blame our european ‘frendz’. I can’t wait, can you?

  29. August 25, 2021 10:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Gds44's Blog.

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