UK Power Industry - a turning point?

Soldato
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Doesn't it go even further back than 20 years? The last nuclear power station before the new batch had construction starting in 1988, Sizewell B. So 30 years between that and Hinkley Point C construction starting...

The problem with a good blackout, assuming we're talking an unintentional one, is that by the time that scares people it's waaaaay too late.

I've kinda developed a fascination with checking the gridwatch website occasionally for funs. Right now we've got a load of 41.89GW - Wind is producing 5.25GW, Solar 0.18GW and Biomass (which shouldn't count as renewable...) is maxed out at 2.94GW. So less than 20% of load being satisfied by renewables, and that's using the dodgy accounting of burning wood imported wood as 'renewable'. And of course that means we're burning coal.

By some very rough back of an envelope maths right now we'd basically need ~120GW of wind *capacity* to 'cope'/be 100% renewables on days like today, well over the governments plans.

I might take up prepping as a hobby :p
 
Soldato
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I think 20 years is far enough back, nothing was going to happen in Major's final years or in Blair's first years. But with Brian Wilson, Energy Minister 2001-2003, the political landscape was ripe for a solid, far reaching energy policy that would set us up for the coming decades but they blew it. Before then the politics and money would have been too tricky (and North Sea oil and gas was booming), after then and it was getting too late. Anyway - we are where we are.

Maintaining energy security as power demand rises due to heat pumps and EVs, gas becomes more expensive as the resource transitions from a regional to global commodity, we will lose a few more GW of nuclear. ~Zero chance of building new coal and remaining coal also likely to close permanently soon. Far too many eggs in the gas basket with ~no storage. I'm expecting significant power issues during the next five years.
 
Soldato
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I've kinda developed a fascination with checking the gridwatch website occasionally for funs. Right now we've got a load of 41.89GW - Wind is producing 5.25GW, Solar 0.18GW and Biomass (which shouldn't count as renewable...) is maxed out at 2.94GW. So less than 20% of load being satisfied by renewables, and that's using the dodgy accounting of burning wood imported wood as 'renewable'. And of course that means we're burning coal.
:p

I love that website, it's really cool. I note also that today we are sending electricity to France over the interconnector. All those threats about cutting off or limiting the supply from France are empty threats because we supply them too and also Ireland receives supply from France via us - if our supply was limited we'd just limit Irelands to make sure we had enough.
 
Soldato
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I think 20 years is far enough back, nothing was going to happen in Major's final years or in Blair's first years. But with Brian Wilson, Energy Minister 2001-2003, the political landscape was ripe for a solid, far reaching energy policy that would set us up for the coming decades but they blew it. Before then the politics and money would have been too tricky (and North Sea oil and gas was booming), after then and it was getting too late. Anyway - we are where we are.

Energy policy in the late 90's and early 00's was to break up the UK generators so that they could be bought by foreign firms. It worked well Powergen went to Eon, National Power to RWE, Scottish Power to Iderbola and British Nuclear to Electricity de France. So instead of having a small number of large companies with who we could work towards strategic aims we had too many players poorlyincentivised by ill designed contracts. We lacked national champions to invest in skills and technology and build new plant. Genuine vandalism.
 
Soldato
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Interesting reads guys.

I think a fair few rational people agree that nuclear is the sensible stop gap to full renewable and the only real option to avoid costs like we are facing.

As said. Its not like this is unpredictable. And nuclear is a relatively stable cost to bear.

I don't myself see any escape from what we are in now yet more tax on the middle and wealthy to support those with nothing. All the time taking out of what people would spend on other higher rate purchases and the UK economy.

I wrote in the home and garden I can't see a happy ending to this. Its all long term fixes. And gas prices etc do not look like reducing anytime. Its a fossil fuel after all. I guess we just have to get used to the idea we are in decline.

Glad I don't have kids. 1. To inherit absolutely nothing in money and **** in terms of a life. And 2. At this rate wouldn't be able to afford them.

Base rate energy costs have to be one of the worst economiclly. You are literally funneling money out of the UK.

If in 1 year additional costs (bills/tax) is going up by 1k + for middle earning families or won't take too much time for things to get a bit more concerning for those on what last year would be a 'good' income.
 
Soldato
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... We lacked national champions to invest in skills and technology and build new plant. Genuine vandalism.
Really makes me sad to think of what happened to the nuclear industry in this country. One-time world leading industry with skilled and dedicated engineers, successfully designed and built a generation of AGRs that have really stood the test of time. All that left to rot basically, due to lack of political will, almost deliberate policies to run the industry down.

Just imagine where we'd be in there had been ongoing investment in the industry and all that talent was put to good use. If nothing else our carbon footprint would be much lower and wouldn't be dependent on Russia not turning the gas off.
 
Soldato
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By some very rough back of an envelope maths right now we'd basically need ~120GW of wind *capacity* to 'cope'/be 100% renewables on days like today, well over the governments plans.

That’s basically the plan isn’t it? Massively over provision our wind capacity, import any shortfall via the interconnects (including all the new ones) when it’s low, sell it back when it’s high and have a bit of storage on the grid (and domestically) to shave the top of the peak and manage the frequency.

Oh and a couple of Nukes and biomass to keep things ticking over as needed.
 
Caporegime
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Really makes me sad to think of what happened to the nuclear industry in this country. One-time world leading industry with skilled and dedicated engineers, successfully designed and built a generation of AGRs that have really stood the test of time. All that left to rot basically, due to lack of political will, almost deliberate policies to run the industry down.
the first 2 power stations were only built to generate nuclear materials for bombs.

seems the only reason countries decide to build nuclear power plants if they need to make bombs.


we need some good old fashioned blackouts like in the 80s when the corner shops would open outside of hours to make a killing selling candles
 
Soldato
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That’s basically the plan isn’t it? Massively over provision our wind capacity, import any shortfall via the interconnects (including all the new ones) when it’s low, sell it back when it’s high and have a bit of storage on the grid (and domestically) to shave the top of the peak and manage the frequency.

Oh and a couple of Nukes and biomass to keep things ticking over as needed.

I believe the current plan is to have 40GW by 2030, on a day like today that would be 13.33GW actual with ~40GW load so a bit short. By which point all but one (the good ol' Sizewell B, 1.2GW) of our current nuclear reactors will be gone, a loss of ~5,5GW, as will the ~4.5GW of Coal we have left.

Even beyond that there's talk of, but no 'target' I think, of 75GW Wind by 2050.

Obviously on a windy day 13+GW is seen, so 40GW in 2030 wouldn't be enough but it'd be a very healthy chunk at least. And lets not think about the increased load due to EVs in that time. At least we'll have the 3.2GW of Hinkley Point C right? If it's on time.
 
Soldato
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Electric load will be going up. To meet the Climate Change Act 2008's requirements for 2035 for instance all domestic heating, hot water and cooking would need to be electric as well as all domestic transport. It is plausible that demand for electricity will double.

The assumption that interconnects will fill the gap is also a bit hopeful given that our neighbours are making all the same rash choices. Further afield and considering long distance interconnects, who thinks it would be wise to turn over the integrity of the national power supply to North African countries for instance? We bleat about the energy politics with Russia but they are a paragon of stability compared to North African countries.
 
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Soldato
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the first 2 power stations were only built to generate nuclear materials for bombs.

seems the only reason countries decide to build nuclear power plants if they need to make bombs.
Yeah certainly seemed like the biggest reason to start with. It seems like there was a time when the civil benefits and energy security benefits of nuclear were of genuine interest too, but politicians just weren't interested enough and decided to abandon it for short term poorly thought through reasons.

I've heard some people go as far as to say that the only reason uranium reactors were researched and built in preference to Thorium reactors was because you can't build a bomb from Thorium reactor waste. Not sure that's the whole story, but is at least part of it!
This is interesting, national grid options and estimates. Elec consumption ranging from roughly 150-200% by 2050 compared to 2019 baseline
https://online.flippingbook.com/view/621114/20/
or more detailed version https://www.nationalgrideso.com/document/173821/download

Also interesting is a few bits of government strategy mapped on
- Half of all cars electric by 2040
- Offshore wind of 40GW by 2030, 2019 was 3.8!
- 6/10 homes rated EPC c or higher by 2035, 2019 was 37%.

Interesting links, cheers.
Flipped through the 2050 energy white paper earlier too wondering what it actually said about the longer term plan, might be of interest too (similar numbers and the same targets as mentioned in your sources, but with a bit more general discussion / fluff): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-white-paper-powering-our-net-zero-future
 
Soldato
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So the forecasts are suggesting that Friday currently has negative surplus. That position will soften as people change planned maintenance or make other plant available. But once again the grid is creaking because of the intermittency of renewables and we'll be relying on the kind of generation that is growing old and closing. Those of you that care to look at the weather report will notice there is no extreme weather event expected, the wind is just a tad slow. Wind generation is predicted to be producing 8% of nameplate output.
 

bJN

bJN

Soldato
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On the plus side, gas price is coming down. I mean it's still 150% increase on this time last year, but it's the "right" direction certainly for consumers.
 
Soldato
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LCP Enact - The Current

Another day another roll of the dice. Wind generation isn't even that low (30% rated capacity) and there is a margin worry for this evening. Coal kicking out nearly 2GW again. Nuclear 5.2GW. This time next winter at least 2GW of coal and nuclear will be gone, maybe 3GW.

Edit: my mistake Hunterston closed permanently last week, I thought it was a few months away.
 
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Soldato
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This is interesting, national grid options and estimates. Elec consumption ranging from roughly 150-200% by 2050 compared to 2019 baseline
https://online.flippingbook.com/view/621114/20/
or more detailed version https://www.nationalgrideso.com/document/173821/download

Also interesting is a few bits of government strategy mapped on
- Half of all cars electric by 2040
- Offshore wind of 40GW by 2030, 2019 was 3.8!
- 6/10 homes rated EPC c or higher by 2035, 2019 was 37%.
NG have published an updated FES 2021 report : see here : https://www.nationalgrideso.com/future-energy/future-energy-scenarios/fes-2021#fes-reports
 
Soldato
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I apologise in advance about my updates that aren't necessarily talking points.

So if we look here we have a capacity market notification. Don't get many of these official warnings. But a lot more common, and to beat a well worn drum it's not like there is a major weather event driving this, just the wind has dropped to less than 10% rated capacity...again.

It may get cancelled yet they typically do as some major user will be paid to turn off.

There are stations being paid about £4000 per MWh at the moment which is about 80 times the typical cost of generation to provide top up support. Woe betide any power station that falls over today.
 
Man of Honour
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The problem is that ignorant and/or malicious and/or greedy people claiming to be acting on behalf of the environment dominate the narrative and reality is irrelevant. At best, people who understand the situation and are in a position to do anything about it will take the political risk of trying to implement a functioning solution behind the scenes. It's political suicide to challenge the narrative directly, so they won't do that. We'll all have to pretend that blatantly inadequate solutions will work super-duper wonderfully because they're labelled as being green (even when they're not).
 
Soldato
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Would the costs just be too high if it was decided to go just full on Nuclear? It's the only realistic source of Energy to meet the demands.
 
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