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 2.5 GW today because of low wind speeds.
In the meantime, the costs of stabilizing 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 stabilizing 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. From The Times:
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”.
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