Skip to content

We’re Short Of Power In Summer Now

August 15, 2022

By Paul Homewood


A very disturbing report from Timera:




Heat wave leads to second summer GB Capacity Market Notice

A second GB Capacity Market Notice (CMN) of Summer  2022 was issued on the 11th August at 13:34, as National Grid’s forecast of surplus capacity over the evening peak fell below the required 500MW 4 hours ahead of delivery.

In addition to their de-rated margin forecasts, National Grid publish their forecast loss of load probability at midday on the day before delivery, before subsequently updating at 8, 4, 2 and 1 hours before delivery. The above chart shows these forecasts for the evening peak on the 11th August. Loss of load probability (LoLP) gives an indication of the scarcity of available generation capacity for each settlement period, and would sit at 0% on a comfortable, well-supplied day. As delivery time approached on the 11th, availability improved, LoLP dropped significantly and the CMN was cancelled.

Despite the eventual cancellation, CMNs in summer months are vanishingly rare, and are typically used to manage winter peak demand. In the record-breaking heat this summer, demand for cooling has been strong and some generators across the UK and the Continent have struggled in the high temperatures (e.g. challenges for cooling for French nuclear plants, barging coal to southern German coal plants and low hydro). These factors, when combined with low wind (around 2GW on 11th August), are likely to have caused the tight margins leading to the CMN.

For a start, forget about the misdirection about “heatwaves”, as if this was the cause. Demand peaked at 31.4 GW on August 11; As the chart for July shows, most days in summer, other than weekends, peak well above 30 GW:



As Timera comment, to even get close to scarcity of power in summer used to be unheard of.

The real cause was simple, low wind power, down to 2.5 GW during the evening peak demand that day (light blue on the chart below):


As for solar, this had all but disappeared by 7.30 pm:



The problem was easily resolved in the end, by firing up CCGTs, which ramped up from 14.4 GW at 4.30pm to 16.4 GW three hours later:



It is also worth noting that CCGT actually peaked at 9.30pm, because we were quickly running out of pumped storage, which had been used up earlier in the evening, and reduced interconnector supply.

Also note that coal was still supplying 0.4 GW throughout the afternoon and evening!

How much longer we can rely on gas and coal is another matter.

  1. August 15, 2022 12:23 pm

    “High heat, low wind”! Who would have guessed!

  2. August 15, 2022 12:24 pm

    UK has become totally dependent on French nukes. Without that support at critical times its desperately hunting around for back-up. As you say without gas-fired generation its stuffed in mid-summer as well as those cold windless mid winter days/nights.

    • In The Real World permalink
      August 15, 2022 3:16 pm

      The problem with relying on French power is when the French have a lot of their generation down , and not likely to be going again for some time .

      Looking at UK generation yesterday , wind was only 1% of generation .
      And I did notice in a local news item that several hundred homes were without power due to ” A TREE HITTING POWER LINES “.

      So power cuts already , and the ” Smart Meters ” are going to get busy shutting more people down as Winter comes .
      And I guess they are inventing more excuses for when lots more cuts come .

  3. GeoffB permalink
    August 15, 2022 12:36 pm

    Sign of things to come……I am signed up for BM warnings, and was rather surprised to get this one on a nice sunny day. Good article by Jordan Peterson in todays telegraph.

    • dave permalink
      August 15, 2022 1:04 pm

      “In the record-breaking heat this summer…”

      Um. What records were broken? Everybody seems to be in this phase of climate religion where ritual nods to the dogma, arising out of terrified superstition, are de rigeur

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      August 15, 2022 2:16 pm

      Even the French can’t rely on French nukes at the moment. Time to get those RR modules in production. (And a bit of fracking and the odd load of coal wouldn’t hurt.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        August 15, 2022 4:31 pm

        The Office for Nuclear Regulation has a news item to say they were asked to look at the RR reactor dated April 1st this year. Auspicious date, since nothing has happened since. Not even a website update to track the progress. You can see the reactors currently approved/undergoing approval here:

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      August 15, 2022 2:18 pm

      I was about to say the same. Well worth reading. Better still copy to every MP though they might have trouble with some of the long words!

    • Hamish McDougall permalink
      August 15, 2022 3:01 pm

      Please can you specify exactly where it is in the Daily Telegraph for Monday Aug 15, 2022?

    • Phil O'Sophical permalink
      August 15, 2022 3:16 pm

      Not in the dead tree version. Restricted to online patrons only.

      • In The Real World permalink
        August 15, 2022 4:22 pm

        When I try to click on links on here I often get a ” Refuses to Connect ” come up . Has anybody else had this .

        And while I am at it , I have lost the link to UKs low carbon generation site which listed all of the non fossil fuel generators and strike prices etc . Does anyone have a link for this .

      • GeoffB permalink
        August 15, 2022 4:33 pm

        switch off java script to read the online telegraph for free, click the little padlock to the left of the web address at the top of the screen click site settings and find java script change box to block….embedded things like charts and tables do not work, you cannot comment.

      • August 15, 2022 4:39 pm

        You can also press Esc just after refreshing the page, and that stops the javascript leaving the page intact – if you time it right.

      • In The Real World permalink
        August 15, 2022 5:16 pm

        Thanks for the comments , but I think this is different from Javascript problems .
        Not all links , but the Telegraph one above just comes up as a blank page with a sad face and ” Telegraph refused to connect “

      • August 15, 2022 5:30 pm

        @ilma630: Nice tip. Thanks

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        August 15, 2022 6:04 pm

        In The Real World, this one?

      • In The Real World permalink
        August 15, 2022 7:31 pm

        Thanks Stuart Brown .
        That was not the actual one I was looking for , but a search on that one led me to the actual one which was CFD REGISTER.
        I lost it a few months ago and could not remember the name .

  4. that man permalink
    August 15, 2022 1:16 pm

    What a complete corkup.

  5. Martin Brumby permalink
    August 15, 2022 1:41 pm

    I suggest it is imperative that all energy supply contracts must be greatly simplified, with tenders stating how much they will supply on ANY given day, plus or minus a SMALL margin. Perhaps 5%?

    As all the Ruinable providers are Energy ‘Experts’, (I know, you hadn’t noticed, but that is what is claimed), let them, rather than some lazy incompetent bureaucrat, make arrangements to ‘top up’ their wind or solar (or sunbeams-from-cucumbers or interconnectors or whatever), contributions by using their negotiating skills in the market place.

    And have Contracts with teeth in them that are rigidly and relentlessly enforced.

    Me, I suggest the “Cock on the Block” approach.

    • August 15, 2022 3:43 pm

      Isn’t stating how much they’ll supply on any given day out of their hands, but in the lap of he gods, i.e. the weather? I’d rather just see them have contracts that pay them normal market rates (no subsidy) but *ONLY* when they are generating, and also no grid feed-in priority, or constraint payments when the wind is too strong and they have to switch off. We’d soon see how long they’d last.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 16, 2022 3:10 am

      Mostly what happens is that small embedded generators never get called on production failures, which just appear as an increase in demand. However, via so called aggregators they can get paid for switching off when there’s too much power on the system.

      Larger ones that are grid connected have to submit their best and final positions by gate closure, an hour ahead of the start of each settlement period. They are therefore encouraged to sell relatively close to real time if there is a risk they may fall short in generation, and have to pay balancing prices for it. If they turn out to produce more than they have sold they may bid to curtail in oversuplied markets or accept a low balancing price, or simply benefit from high balancing prices in tight markets. For those on ROCs there us a large buffer from the subsidy. For those on CFDs they already have a guaranteed price regardless of market conditions at the day ahead point, so their incentive is to sell in the day ahead market rather than speculate on differences between day ahead and further forward sales prices.

  6. August 15, 2022 3:42 pm

    Who could possibly have thought that this would be the result of the Climate Change Act 2008, The EU Renewable Energy Directive and Net Zero? Only an energy expert, and we are dwindling in number.

    • Mack permalink
      August 15, 2022 5:02 pm

      Indeed Phillip, the perfect storm is coming. And, much like the film of the same name, it’s not going to end well. All those politicians who nodded through the climate change and net zero legislation without a second thought should take a bow. This is their doing, they own the disaster which is unfolding in front of us and every single one of them should be held accountable for it.

      • August 15, 2022 6:04 pm

        They will claim they were “only following the science” and didn’t have the time to examine it closely – more important things to do, like the Commons bar and white privilege, i.e. following what their gullible brains were told by some ecomentalists and wokists.

      • Mack permalink
        August 15, 2022 6:23 pm

        Ilmao, ‘only following the science’ has a kind of ‘Nuremberg’ ring to it, a bit like ‘only following orders’ and that doesn’t cut it as a defence in a court of law. However, you are half right. They will claim that they were only following the science, but they deliberately ignored, shunned and denigrated the honest science provided by the very many eminent scientists and engineers who disagreed with all the ‘green crap’, as David Cameron once described it before joining the Dark Side. Peter Lilley was one of the very few political ‘climate heretics’ who was brave enough to point out the error of their ways at the time of the passing of the Climate Change Act. They can’t now pretend that they weren’t warned of the consequences.

      • dave permalink
        August 16, 2022 9:03 am

        “…like the film [Perfect Storm] it is not going to end well…”

        At least the last member of the crew died with dignity. I doubt there will be much of that in our future.

  7. Athelstan permalink
    August 15, 2022 6:22 pm

    The grid can barely cope in the summer months, bodes ill for the forthcoming colder seasons and if we do get a bad early winter. The prospect confounds as it discomfits and it will.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 16, 2022 3:14 am

      There is quite a bit of capacity on maintenance at the moment, which is why the margin notice was needed despite a relatively low level of demand. Nevertheless, we are unlikely to be able to rely on interconnectors to keep the lights on in winter. Indeed, we will end up in a bidding war for who gets the blackouts. We might even supply France while we black out parts of the UK to do so.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 16, 2022 2:34 pm

        I used to think such a scenario could never happen. Surely no government of any colour (even Greens) could possibly countenance their own population potentially freezing to death (no electrically controlled heating whatever its main fuel source) in order to supply another country. But nowadays I am simply not so sure. The repercussions of such an event happening would surely bring down any government…or maybe not – who knows anymore?

  8. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    August 15, 2022 11:10 pm

    Well they shell out millions on capacity market payments every year to cover this sort of the issue so is it really that big a deal.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 16, 2022 3:18 am

      Capacity market payments have been a fond illusion. The problem us that the capacity procured has been inadequate, and so the prices have been too low to secure newbuilds. Now we face a winter where interconnectors likely will not bail us out, because there will be shortage on the Continent.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        August 16, 2022 10:12 am

        Understand that the CM hasn’t incentivised enough new build (although much of the obscure technology stuff still hasn’t been built) but the fact remains those with contracts are obliged to fire up their generators and at this time of the year plenty are sitting idle so the CMN did as it was designed. Remember back in the days when it was run out of CEGB Bankside behind the scenes this was going on all the time. The fact is the ESO is doing its job and they didn’t design the market but at least they have the experience to still manage the system to “keep the lights on”.

        Have they procured enough capacity for this winter is debateable for sure and my take is no because they have become over reliant on the i/c’s as always being able to import we just have to pay for it that expectation can’t be relied upon this winter for sure. Still the diesel peakers and all the batteries will come to our rescue……….not.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 16, 2022 2:49 pm

        ” Now we face a winter where interconnectors likely will not bail us out, because there will be shortage on the Continent.”
        And this is really what is concerning me. Looking at DUKES and what is left of reliable hard capacity (both transmission and DNO connected) there is only a flat out maximum of about 54GW. (CCGT, OCGT, Coal, Nuclear, Oil and Biomass). You can really only look to, at best, 85% of that so nearer 46GW.
        Solar (useless in winter and at night anytime of the year), Wind (useless in still weather) and Hydro (useless in drought which does occur in winter) and the PSH (runs out in a matter of a few hours) come in at a maximum capacity of 40GW but going on to sweet FA in the wrong conditions. With the interconnectors off we only have demand reduction measures (rolling blackouts) to avoid a cascading collapse in adverse conditions.
        I well remember early December 2010 when GB grid demand hit over 61.5GW and in France it simultaneously breached 100GW.
        Hit that demand again and there is a real major catastrophe.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        August 16, 2022 5:50 pm

        Indeed and even that capacity presupposes that gas is available but under artic cold weather in previous years some CCGTs have had to come offline to protect the gas for consumers. Mind you at the prices being quoted we will probably see significant demand destruction so the ESO may get away with it.

  9. August 16, 2022 7:51 am

    There is also the programme of closing nuclear plants as they reach end of life in a few short years. We will lose reliable capacity and inertia, similarly existing coal plants unless the powers that be wake up and rescind that decree, although we don’t have that much coal capacity left.
    The increased capacity of wind that is being built does not address the low wind times which are frequent, and given that the capacity quoted as being built is at best half in reality.
    I am continually surprised that the National Grid ESO seem so supportive of this destruction of our electrical supply system, particularly as they have little control of it and will be blamed when real power cuts occur?

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 16, 2022 9:08 am

      National Grid ESO receives payments for every “intervention” they have to make to balance the grid. The more interventions, the more money they make and they are a private company after all. An unreliable grid is actually in their financial interest. Worse still they have financial stakes in interconnectors hence they are quite happy to import/export electricity rather than use home consumption.
      In early 2020 lockdown we were paying Sizewell B to run at half power of CO2 free electricity whilst simultaneously importing high CO2 power over the BritNed interconnector direct from a coal fired plant in the Netherlands. You could not make it up.
      The payment system is quite absurd (corrupt?).

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        August 16, 2022 10:31 am

        Not sure this is the case the reality of all the utility based privatisations is they were largely only succesful because of all the experience that bodies like the CEGB had built up. Yes it would have been better left as the CEGB but those engineers at their core still have the values that CEGB bequeathed them to take the right decisons to keep the lights on. The fact is its been made hellishly complicated to do that now and that’s what generates all the interventions.

        Anyway the ESO is being removed from NG to become an arms length body

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 16, 2022 2:11 pm

        To Nicholas Lewis, the National Grid was privatised in the 1990s, anyone over the age of 35 when it was privatised is now likely retired. Any relationship to the old GEGB organisation and values vanished literally multiple decades ago

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 16, 2022 3:38 pm

        If you want something truly bizarre, today we have exports on Intelec via the Chunnel at the same time as imports on the next door IFA1 and also on IFA2. National grid collecting fees for cycling electricity in circles.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        August 16, 2022 7:19 pm

        The operators of the links collect the fees for utilisation although it does show how bizarre the situation has become and whose paying for the losses. Also ive seen Nemo one way and BritNed the other on numerous occasions.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 16, 2022 9:10 am

      National Grid has one interest only. The more bits of grid that are needed as sticking plaster to try to hold the system together, the bigger National Grid gets. Therefore they choose grid maximising solutions.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 16, 2022 10:17 pm

        Regarding the simultaneous import/export over IFA1 and ElecLink, I have to say I am truly amazed. It’s hard to even make up any logical reason for such perverse circular transactions. Downloading data from Gridwatch it seems to not be a unique event. This really is beyond satire.

      • August 16, 2022 10:24 pm

        It’s hard to even make up any logical reason for such perverse circular transactions.

        Ray: It is a superb business strategy, “Heads I win, Tails you lose” comes to mind.

  10. Gerry, England permalink
    August 16, 2022 12:45 pm

    Just to add to the fun, water levels are low in Norway so they are cutting back on electricity exports to use what they have for themselves.

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      August 16, 2022 12:59 pm

      They’ve threatened it as a possibility rather than actually do it but has been a good two way trade on NSL recently anyhow. Their main issue is southern Norway (NO2) has the reservoir water deficit not further North but the three European interconnectors come from this area and the transmission system constraints what they can shift in from other areas so they are going to look after their own needs first and who can blame them. Oh and i would expect rest of EU not to be helpful with our i/c’s if (when) we get into trouble over this winter with a blocking high and not enough gas to run CCGTs and domestic demand.

  11. Ana permalink
    August 18, 2022 3:00 pm

    At the moment we are exporting electricity to Europe via interconnectors! Any one reporting on that? Around 5GW yesterday.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: