‘No threat to energy supply’ if Scotland has to rely on England?

Posted: February 17, 2015 by oldbrew in Big Green, Energy, Politics, Uncertainty

Bye-bye Longannet? [image credit: BBC]

Bye-bye Longannet? [image credit: BBC]

Does the UK Business Secretary know something the rest of us don’t? Despite fears of the UK as a whole being unable to meet peak electricity demand in some circumstances, he appears confident there’s capacity to spare if Scotland’s windmill culture (not his words) can’t do the business.

The UK government’s Business Secretary Vince Cable has said there is no threat to the security of Scotland’s electricity supply, reports the BBC.

His comments came after BBC Scotland’s disclosure that the huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife was facing a renewed threat to its future.

Mr Cable said energy could be imported from England.

Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told BBC Radio Scotland that Longannet was necessary to “meet demand”.

Scottish Power, which operates the plant, warned last year that the cost of connecting to the grid meant the power station may close earlier than planned.

It is understood talks between Scottish Power and National Grid have stalled.

Following a meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board, Scotland’s First Minister Ms Sturgeon wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron to call for an analysis of electricity capacity margins in Scotland.

Longannet’s location puts it at a disadvantage when competing against English power stations.

Scottish generators, including Longannet, account for about 12% of the capacity connected to Britain’s high-voltage electricity network.

But, according to the Scottish government, they pay about 35% of the charges for connection to the national grid.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish government cannot accept a situation where levels of energy security in Scotland are compromised by energy policy and network operation decisions taken outside Scotland.”

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Cable said: “This isn’t an England versus Scotland issue.”

He added: “Clearly there is an issue about the pricing and the connection into the grid, but that is determined by the regulator Ofgem, it is not determined politically.

“There is no issue about security of supply. I don’t quite understand why this issue has flared up. For many years Scotland has exported energy to England on the national grid and that was a perfectly sensible arrangement.”

“There is now the possibility that there will be a reverse flow for some years until the big renewable sources in Scotland come into play.

“That is not a problem. It is a secure national grid – there isn’t a threat to security of supply.”

“I think it is a bit rich of the UK government to say it has nothing to do with them” – Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Energy Minister

  1. M Simon says:

    Grids these days typically operate with a margin of 5% to 10% (they used to go to 20% but that is no longer done as it is considered wasteful). I’d have to look at all the numbers – but cutting 12% for the local grid seems significant.

    More margin is of course better – 5% is cutting it rather fine.

  2. A couple of months ago I went to the Scottish Parliament committee of renewables. It was a laughable affair. There were three speakers, one from the WWF another green NGO and the national grid. Obviously two of them yapped on about how the world was getting warming and the parliament had to … etc.

    And out side it was snowing. Nothing at all had changed in all the time these numpties have run Scotland, except our electricity bills keep going up, manufacturing industry has left Scotland for good and more and more people are suffering fuel poverty.

    And for what? This avowedly anti-English party destroys the landscape of Scotland and the only people who benefit are the English who by the stupidity of the Scottish politicians have had to put up far fewer birdmincers because the Scots have been daft enough to not only more than meet our fair share of wind, but we also have almost all the Hydro. So, we pay for wind, even when we already have Hydro and all of us should be paying less than anyone in England because unlike wind Hydro doesn’t need any subsidy.

    And what are we in Scotland, one of the colder nations of the earth doing all this for? To make our climate colder? But each and every cold period since the beginning of CET is linked to one or other disaster. 1690 we had a decade of cold called the “ill-years”. Then we get potato famines and finally the last cold period in the 1960s saw peak emigration from Scotland. Emigration that only halted after 1960 when we saw another period of warmer climate.

    And now what? They are destroying our electricity supply network, attacking oil and thereby making their own dream of independence impossible. And as a result last year a huge swathe of the Highlands had a massive power cut during one of the windiest nights (when the wind dropped unrepentantly).

    They should put a sign at the English border saying: “Welcome to numptyland”.

  3. oldbrew says:

    So-called green ideology is not doing Scotland any favours economically speaking.

    ‘Grangemouth plant future ‘rests on shale gas industry’….However, the Scottish government has imposed a moratorium on the “fracking” technique used to extract the gas.’


  4. Doug Proctor says:

    I.e., don’t vote for independence, don’t even think about it

  5. Joe Public says:

    Perhaps if the Scots insisted that in times of oversupply, it was their windmills which were ‘first off’, Longannet might have a more stable local market into which to sell its output.

  6. Stephen Richards says:

    Cable is a Lib Dem. He will not be resposible for power (he isn’t now, is he?) supply for a very long time. As I said , I prayed for scotland’s independence and I’m an athiest.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Cable: ‘not a problem. It is a secure national grid – there isn’t a threat to security of supply’

    Politicians do sometimes try to bend the truth a bit, especially before elections.
    Either that or he’s lost touch with the reality. October 2014 report:

    ‘National Grid: Britain ‘at greater risk of blackouts’ as power stations close’

    ‘National Grid report expected to reveal tighter power margins and unveil emergency measures to keep lights on’


  8. oldbrew says:

    Bishop Hill aka Andrew Montford joins the discussion:

    ‘Having gone hell for leather to make wind power the centrepiece of Scottish energy policy, having fought tooth and nail to prevent new nuclear and coal-fired capacity and at best only lukewarm on gas, the Scottish National Party are now having to face the consequences of what they have done. It looks like a case of a cry for help’


    Logic and renewables don’t go together somehow, as the SNP just found out.

    ‘Longannet’s location puts it at a disadvantage when competing against English power stations.’

    So use it in Scotland?

  9. A C Osborn says:

    The disadvantage to Longannet comes from the National Grid with this piece of idiocy
    “The aim is to encourage generators and suppliers to consider this when making decisions on where to locate, so it can reduce the need for extra network and keep costs down for customers.”

    The bloody thing was built in 1970, so they are a bit late in encouraging it’s “Location”.

  10. tgmccoy says:

    This is similar to a recent conversation I had with a local Greenie : “I love my electric car!
    (Nissan Leaf, which is one of the better ones-note it is all relative btw) ” I select renewables from
    the power company. ” I said” So you have a filter to sort out the inappropriate electrons-the ones generated by say atomic or coal power?” A blank stare-and a goldfish like pursing of the lips ensued from the Greenie..

  11. lapogus says:

    Evidently Vince Cable hasn’t see this graph: http://snag.gy/uH4Cn.jpg

    Or maybe he has but is incapable of understanding it?

    Or maybe he has seen it, understands it, but thinks that as he inhabits la la land it does not matter.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Iapogus: the ‘cunning’ plan is to bribe industrial and any other heavy users of electricity to shut down or reduce demand on request, aka STOR. If that doesn’t work, they can hire emergency generating power from outside the normal supply grid under pre-arranged contracts – at suitably inflated prices of course.

    So: less supply just means ‘choke off demand’ if it gets too close to the limit.


    And if all that doesn’t cut the mustard: stand by for rolling blackouts.

  13. oldbrew says:

    Confirmation that Vince Cable was over-optimistic: ‘Move to keep power station ‘back-up’ ‘

    ‘National Grid has conceded it needs back-up to avoid power failures if the wind drops and Scottish wind turbines do not produce energy.’


    It’s not rocket science 😉

  14. oldbrew says:

    Longannet is closing next year according to ‘the Bishop’.


    Relying on renewables only – mainly wind power – can’t work for obvious reasons.
    Scotland’s policy seems to be: England will bale us out if we run short of power.

    ‘Longannet power station to close next year’


  15. oldbrew says:

    Vince Cable, February 2015: “There is now the possibility that there will be a reverse flow for some years until the big renewable sources in Scotland come into play.

    “That is not a problem. It is a secure national grid – there isn’t a threat to security of supply.”

    Then the closure of Longannet power station in 2016 is announced.

    Scottish Parliament, March 2015: ‘The security of Scotland’s energy supply will be the subject of an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.’

    ‘Convener of the Committee Murdo Fraser MSP said:
    “The security of Scotland’s energy supply has been brought into urgent focus due to the recent developments at Longannet.
    “It is imperative that this inquiry starts a debate in Scotland about how we can secure Scotland’s energy supply and looks at the implications of the likely early closure of Longannet.’


    From ‘not a problem’ to ‘urgent’ in one month 😉

  16. […] what Germany will go through in the near future. The massive Longannet coal fired plant in Fife, is set to close early next year. It can currently supply up to two thirds of Scotland’s energy needs. However, it is now too […]