Lords S&T reprimands government over panic on blackouts “not acceptable”

Posted: March 12, 2015 by tchannon in Accountability, Analysis, Energy, government


Image Copyright Roger Kidd under CC

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, 12 March 2015

The Government has managed to “keep the lights on”, but buying in extra ‘safety net’ capacity at short notice has brought costs for the taxpayer and the environment, concludes a Lords report out today.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee declares that the Government should not be congratulated on keeping the lights on. Its report, entitled ‘The Resilience of the Electricity System’, says it is not acceptable for an advanced economy, hugely dependent on electricity, to sail so close to the wind. It found that we have been forced to generate extra capacity in the system, using expensive measures with heavy reliance on fossil fuel generation. The report urges the Government to improve its long-term planning to avoid squeezing the capacity margin like this.

During its inquiry, the Committee also heard that demand for electricity has declined substantially since the economic crisis began. If demand had continued to grow, the situation could have been much worse.

The report also warns that the electricity system’s increasing dependence on ICT will heighten the cyber threat.


Reports and committee evidence on-line for download.

And it will bounce off, as-if the media will pick this up, moreover just before a general election. Teeth are needed.

The reality is that as time passes standards are eaten away, people get sloppy until one day the anatomy of an “accident” comes to pass, not rocket science but endemic throughout life. There is a massive incident which resets the due diligence and then the slide starts again.

The report also, unfortunately, buys into much of the twaddle over false fixes. We need good old fashioned brutal and big.

Post by Tim

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘The report urges the Government to improve its long-term planning to avoid squeezing the capacity margin like this’

    Which everyone knows, or ought to know, is impossible under a ‘build more wind turbines’ unreliable power policy.
    Cutting baseload can never work, and wind turbines are not baseload without storage – which doesn’t exist.

  2. Doug Proctor says:

    No argument will do what cold winters and brownouts can. Warm summers and blackouts will be caused by CAGW; the solution, more of the same, only faster. It is a shame but only a turnaround in winter conditions will get energy sanity back in the ballot box.

  3. Evan HIghlander says:

    I’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity to say: ( and NOT that I am / was in favour then or as of now ) that it’s a good job Maggie closed down so many / much of our heavy Industry – Steel works & Manufacturing. Where would we be if they had NOT been shut down and we have all this increased population consuming the power left over / to spare from the Power Stations since the 80’s.
    It’s like the money we “Save” by reducing spending on ANY KIND of Maintenance of the infrastructure – Roads & Rail systems spring to mind – but even as we see now , – the National Grid is not so National , with “missing” interconnectors, etc. Had been led to believe in my younger years that the Grid to the N OF Scotland / AKA Dounray, ETC, ran down the A9, but when you now see maps of the Grid, – it goes EAST of Inverness…. Education? think they must have cut back there, then too – maybe we’d been fed baby ‘bites’ before it became known as such.

  4. michael hart says:

    Yes, there seems to be a goodly amount of the continuing foolishness in it, but also some dawning reality.
    “Flexible generation will be increasingly important to balance the electricity system. The report finds that all new generation should be built in such a way as to maximise its flexibility.”

    Umm, so that would rule out wind and solar entirely then. In the absence of subsidies, cost should already have ruled them out. If they are getting closer to re-learning what a lot of sensible people have been saying for years, then it would be a good thing. They do at least concede the existence of “irreconcilable pressures”.
    The start of the solution is to scrap the Climate Change Act. I’m given to understand that ministers have the discretion to lower the targets so far as to make it irrelevant, but that would still not send out the signal that they are serious about the energy market.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    During the Gov. Grey (out) Davis years in California, we had stupid progressive political action / laws cause a load of broken to enter our power system. Eventually he was recalled and sanity slowly returned.

    Having “lived the green dream” here, perhaps a bit of advice is helpful. First off, get a 1 kw Honda Generator ( or for a large home, a 2 kW). Anything else is a poor substitute. The 1 kW runs enough lighting and communications to keep things going, and even the fridge. (NOT the A/C or heater… for that you want the 2 kW or more).

    Also, get a couple of ‘computer UPS’ units. These typically make about 250 W to 1 kW for about 20 minutes. A couple of 10 W CFL lights will run nearly forever on them… Have one such lamp on one of these in each end of the house. When power goes out, you are not in the dead dark. (We also put a 1 kW unit on the TV / satelite dish so shows were not interrupted 😉

    Pre-lay some drop cords to selected areas. We had one from the TV cluster along the wall behind the couch and over to the hallway. Another was coiled near the lamp at the other end of the house. WHEN the power failed, I’d unplug the UPS from the wall for the TV cluster and plug it into the prelayed drop cord. Similarly the hall light. Then go onto the back patio and start the Honda (one pull most times 😉 and take THAT drop cord and lay it to the place where the other two met. Instant reconnect for the lights and TV cluster. Now one more line to the fridge and all was set. We used portable lights for the bath and bedrooms (both candles for effect and flashlights / LED lamps if desired – be creative.)

    All up it takes about 5 minutes to react and be transferred to your own power source and without any loss of area lighting, fridge, or interruption of the entertainment.

    I also had an alcohol camping stove at the ready for cooking,, and could light the fire place for heating. If you don’t have a fireplace, get the 2 kW unit and an”oil filled” heater that you run at 900W setting.

    All up cost was about $1500 and power cost me about 20 cents / kW-hr IIRC. Maybe less…

    Glad that we sacked that Governor and not looking forward to doing it again.

    Oh, and get a 300 W or better inverter that plugs into the car. It gives you minimal light and cell phone / laptop charging for about $40 with drop cord from garage to house. Often used when traveling, but nice i any case.