Antony Nailer: UK Electricity – Fossil v Renewable

Posted: April 7, 2015 by tallbloke in Energy, greenblob
Tags: ,
Will British landscapes head the way of areas of the US?

Will British landscapes head the way of areas of the US?

Post by Antony Nailer, reblogged  from UKIP Daily.

The environmentalists will have us believe that renewables are providing a valuable contribution to the UK energy needs and that the use of any fossil fuels is evil.  So now after years of our landscape and seascape being despoiled by huge rotating wind turbines and fields being covered with solar arrays let us consider where we now are.

Coal was at one time was a huge industry in the UK employing hundreds of thousands of people but now a shadow of its former self. It has recently been announced that one of the last two remaining mines, at Thoresbury in Nottinghamshire, is to close this year with the loss of 1300 jobs at the mine and presumably thousands more in associated supporting industry.

We still have nine coal-fired power stations that are not scheduled for closure any-time soon. There is one at Ironbridge in Shropshire due to close within the next few months and not included in the following list.

Aberthaw Barry, Glamorgan 1971 RWE npower 1500
Cottam Nottinghamshire 1969 EDF Energy 2008
Drax Selby, North Yorks 1974 Drax Group 3870
Eggborough Goole, East Riding 1967 British Energy 1960
Fiddlers Ferry Cuerdley, Cheshire 1971 SSE 1961
Ratcliffe on Soar Nottinghamshire 1968 E.ON 2000
Rugeley Staffordshire 1970 Int. Power 1006
West Burton Nottinghamshire 1968 EDF Energy 1972
Wilton Redcar & Cleveland 1951 SembCorp   197
Total continuous generation capacity 16,474MW (16.47GW). About 1/3rdof peak needs.

According to RenewableUK website and the linked page UKWED there are presently 6037 functional onshore and offshore wind turbines, with a rated peak generation capacity of 8.07GW onshore and 4.05GW offshore, total 12.12GW.

On this glorious Easter Monday morning, 6 April 2015, and 8.35am, the electricity demand according to UK Energy Watch was 30GW.

This was being supplied by the following means:

GW 11.11 7.44 6.43 2.994 1.146 0.488 0.438
% 37 24.8 21.4 9.9 3.8 1.6 1.5

The winner is COAL, coasting along at 2/3rd rated capacity.  OTHER presumably includes solar but it is unknown what proportion that is.  The loser as usual is WIND electricity generation providing just 1.5% of our bank holiday needs and producing a mere 3.6% of peak capability.

According to RenewablesFirst on the present installations costs of onshore wind turbines are £1.4m for 0.5MW & 0.8MW, £2.7m for 1.5MW, and £3.1m for 2 to 3MW.  For offshore turbines the installation costs are three times this.

With about 4000 onshore turbines in operation with a peak rating total of 8GW we can say the average rating is 2MW.  So as a first approximation the cost of onshore wind turbines is 4000 x £3.1m = £12,400m (£12.4b).  For 2000 offshore turbines it would be about £18.6b.

Total cost so far then ~ £31b.

Wind Farm Statistics.

Peak capacity 12GW, average generation just 2.4GW.  Occasional generation as low as 0.2GW.  Maximum lifespan of each turbine about 20 years.  Mean time between breakdowns 2.5 years.  Costs of servicing and maintenance never revealed.


In comparison the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station is to be built at a cost of £24b and has a continuous rating of 3.34GW with a 35-year lifespan.  So it will provide one and a half times more power on average than all the existing wind turbines of the UK at four fifths of the cost and for almost twice as long. Expected breakdowns, none in 35 years!

Coal and Gas

Coal and gas fired power stations are cheaper and quicker to build but cost more to run.  We don’t have enough gas unless we can start fracking and then can become net exporters again to help balance the economy.  Coal fired power stations can also use the large remaining stocks of UK coal although it is more expensive than that mined in countries like the Ukraine.

Shutting down coal fired power stations in the UK and supposedly being more reliant on renewables is cloud-cuckoo-land thinking.  Especially when China and India are presently building 800 coal-fired power stations and bringing them online at a rate of 26 per year.

Anyone who tells you that wind farms are providing an important contribution to the energy mix are green fanatics and completely blind to economics and the maintenance of a reliable electricity network.

Pushing up electricity prices to consumers and industry by taxes added to producers and green taxes of 15% added to electricity bills is destroying industry, creating energy poverty and will NOT save the planet.

There is only one party against renewable subsidies and wind farms and that is UKIP.  For sensible energy policy, reliable energy generation and lower energy bills vote UKIP.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Note: ‘for the first time, the eventual decommissioning and waste management costs associated with Hinkley Point C will be paid by the generator at the time of generation. The cost of this Funded Decommissioning Program has already been taken into account in the strike price.’

  2. Joe Public says:

    On 17th March 2015, wind generation never exceeded 1.7% of demand; and, at ~13:00 wind’s contribution had dropped 80% in 2 hours, delivering just 0.09% of demand.

  3. A C Osborn says:

    Not enough is being made of the subsidies that Wind and Solar are getting.
    Which will become more and more destructive to the economy as penetration gets bigger, as will the disruptive nature of the intermittancy of wind generation..
    Plus when that coal mine shuts it will probably mean a large propartion of the workers will be on the dole

  4. Richard111 says:

    That picture reminded me of this one…

    Welcome to our brave new world. Can’t they see that the more wind there is the more inefficient this type of layout becomes?????

  5. dscott says:

    So what are you going to do when all those coal plants are decommissioned? Sit in the dark? Do like 3rd world countries do using daily scheduled blackout periods?

    Here in the US we replace coal fired plants with gas turbines, but we frack so there’s no shortage of or high expense for natural gas. And just to tweek British Socialists and Labor Party people, we cut our CO2 emissions WITHOUT A CARBON TAX or CARBON CREDIT PURCHASING SCHEME. We virtually met our Kyoto targets with little bureaucratic foolishness much less signing a worthless piece of paper that was more for public relations purposes. We let the market decide. Obama commanding like King Knute that coal should no longer be used was a small but significant factor in coal to gas switching but the switching was not to his liking since natural gas was the market solution, not wind and solar. When natural gas is so cheap and smoke stack air regulations disfavor particulates, the choice was obvious.

    What’s that you say? It isn’t fair, you cheated and used a more efficient clean burning carbon based fuel! It isn’t cheating when you still don’t have a viable replacement for natural gas other than nuclear as a non CO2 emitting power source. Wind and Solar are not viable because they cannot supply electricity 24/7 on their own merits and that is an indisputable fact. At some point IF and only IF a power storage technology matures, then and only then can wind and solar provide power economically on a small scale, i.e. not industrial scale. The solar cell power conversion efficiencies are still way too low requiring massive (huge footprint) areas to be deforested or crop land to be destroyed compared to gas turbines.

    It’s too bad the solar tower idea didn’t work out in Australia, now that was a novel idea.

    btw- coal fired plants are labor intensive operations by themselves as a means of power production, so going to gas turbines will still cause large layoffs, i.e. permanent job loses.

  6. oldbrew says:

    dscott says: ‘So what are you going to do when all those coal plants are decommissioned? Sit in the dark? Do like 3rd world countries do using daily scheduled blackout periods?’

    Bribe industrial power users to shut down aka ‘demand reduction’.

  7. catweazle666 says:

    In situ gasification is set to revive the use of coal in the UK and elsewhere.

    Drilling date set for North Sea’s vast coal reserves

    Tynemouth to be one of first locations for £1bn scheme to access deep sea deposits which could power Britain for centuries

    A billion-pound plan to reach untapped coal reserves under the North Sea will be under way by the end of the year, as the vast scale of the energy source beneath the North Sea is made clear.

    Scientific data of the true extent of the coal deposits on the sea bed reveals that even a tiny percentage of them would be enough to power Britain for centuries to come, says a local expert.

    Dermot Roddy, chief technical officer of energy company Five Quarter which will be leading the much-anticipated extraction work, said there are trillions of tonnes of deeply-buried coal stretching from the North East coast far out to sea: an amount thousands of times greater than all oil and gas extracted so far.

    And now technology is advanced enough to be able to reach it.

    The process involves using similar drilling technology to shale gas extraction followed by pumping superheated steam and oxygen into the coal seam. Partial combustion produces carbon dioxide plus carbon monoxide and hydrogen AKA syngas, the feedstock for the venerable Fischer-Tropsch process.

    Long live King Coal!

  8. suricat says:

    I’m just thankful that the later years of ‘Blair’ Government ordered more ‘gas powered’ generation of electricity TB. 😉 Who knew that ‘offshore fracking’ could feed this type of plant, with ‘no pollution’ danger to human water resources either. 🙂

    Best regards, Ray.

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    solar power is expensive variable and unreliable.
    The solar power tower was junked when it became obvious that it was only one third as efficient as existing solar users.

    Solar PV is useful in remote areas of Australia, and solar heating for hot water is cost effective in many places, but both still have to have some backup ready. (Only a battery for an isolated telephone, but mains electricity for household HW).

  10. Arfur Bryant says:

    Large scale wind farms are NO practical or financial benefit to the country (unless you are either the landowner, provider or maintenance engineer). Having them is like buying an electric car “because you want to save the planet” and then paying a driver to follow you everywhere in a petrol-engined car to continue your journey when the electricity-driven car runs out of charge!

  11. oldbrew says:

    FYI some of the ‘nine coal-fired power stations that are not scheduled for closure any-time soon’ are partly converted to biomass burning, e.g. Drax and Fiddlers Ferry.

  12. edhoskins says:

    The UK still has a comparatively moderate commitment to Renewable Energy so far with 6.3% of European installations in 2013. But because of the legal obligations made in the 2008 Climate Change Act, this investment is expected to grow substantially, unless the Act is repealed.

    The UK has encountered substantial resistance to on-shore Wind Power and has already committed ~30% of its capacity and ~50% of its cost to investments offshore. These high cost off-shore installations are subject to the future reliability and maintenance problems of all off-shore wind generation.

    Using renewable energy industry sources the following table shows the performance of UK renewable installations in terms of percentage installed, output capacity and cost comparison with conventional gas fired power generation.
    % capacity cost comparison %expenditure
    Onshore 20% 10.7 times 34%
    Offshore ~30% 17.4 times 49%
    Solar PV 8% 47.7 times 17%

    For full data see:

  13. JohnM says:

    “FYI some of the ‘nine coal-fired power stations that are not scheduled for closure any-time soon’ are partly converted to biomass burning, e.g. Drax and Fiddlers Ferry”
    In the case of Drax, wood chips imported from the USA.
    At Fiddlers Ferry it is Olive Residues, Palm Kernels and Shae Nuts.
    Fiddlers Ferry can carry-on burning coal until 2016.

  14. Jeff says:

    What do you make of countries such as Portugal, Denmark, Spain and Germany that have achieved massive shares for renewables in electricity generation? Their grids remain functional, the lights haven’t gone out and German wholesale electricity prices are falling. It is also exporting to France and others. This despite Economist predictions of disaster.